A fascinating reception history of the theological, ethical, and social themes in the letters of Paul
In the first decades after the death of Jesus, the letters of the apostle Paul were the chief written resource for Christian believers, as well as for those seeking to formulate Christian thought and practice. But in the years following Paul's death, the early church witnessed a proliferation of contested—and often opposing—interpretations of his writings, as teaching was passed down, debated, and codified.
In this engaging study, Adela Yarbro Collins traces the reception history of major theological, ethical, and social topics in the letters of Paul from the days of his apostleship through the first centuries of Christianity. She explores the evolution of Paul’s cosmic eschatology, his understanding of the resurrected body, marriage and family ethics, the role of women in the early church, and his theology of suffering. Paying special attention to the ways these evolving interpretations provided frameworks for church governance, practice, and tradition, Collins illuminates the ways that Paul’s ideas were understood, challenged, and ultimately transformed by their earliest audiences.
Adela Yarbro Collins is Buckingham Professor Emerita of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School.
“A masterclass in the study of Paul’s thought and its reception, by one of the world’s leading New Testament scholars, this is a must-read for everyone interested in the development of Christianity: lucid, accessible, and packed with insight.”—Teresa Morgan, author of Roman Faith and Christian Faith
“Collins’ wonderful book showcases the ways that Pauline thought has been adapted to respond to shifting questions and problems in a wide variety of contexts throughout the centuries. If we are to understand Paul’s influence on emerging Christianity—and on the Christianity of today—his transformation is a crucial piece of the puzzle. This is a master work of scholarship that confronts us with the fundamental dynamism of early Christian thought.”—Tobias Nicklas, University of Regensburg
“Collins’ lucid presentation helps us to understand the changes between Paul and his followers, demonstrating how our understanding of Paul and his message are strongly shaped by later developments.”—Jörg Frey, University of Zurich
“A comprehensive and balanced account of receptions of Pauline theology in the writings of the earliest Christians, from the pseudo-Pauline letters to the Nag Hammadi corpus, Justin Martyr to Augustine of Hippo, and beyond. Collins’s wide study illustrates the ingenuity of those who engaged with Paul, whether or not they explicitly mentioned either his letters or his person. Paul Transformed is a valuable resource for students and scholars alike.”—Jennifer Wright Knust, Duke University
“With elegant clarity, Adela Yarbro Collins explores key aspects both of Paul’s letters and of their complex reception history. Paul’s literary, social, and theological afterlives, she shows, were no less protean than was the apostle himself. Paul Transformed beams bright light onto the tangled pathways of early Roman Christianities.”—Paula Fredriksen, author of Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle
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