June 26, 2009

Michael Bird, Introducing Paul

Michael Bird's Introducing Paul (IVP in England used the whimsical title A Bird's Eye View of Paul for this same volume there) is a great little introduction to Paul's life and thought. In this short book, obviously intended as a college or seminary text, Bird cover's the necessary ground for an intro, dealing with matters of upbringing and training, Paul's conversion, his literary legacy, the important components of his thought, and his ethics and spirituality. Bird's coverage of these areas is uniformly well written and up to date, reflecting the latest issues and advances in scholarship without giving over to a faddish interpretation of the apostle. One leaves the pages understanding the contested ground but at the same time having a well-grounded understanding of Paul's theology that reflects both the best of the historic interpretations of Paul and some important modifications and improvements from the "new perspective."

Bird does a great job of situating Paul in his second-temple Jewish contect, and notes how the Old Testament and Judaism provide the important seedbed and framework for his thought, while also noting the role of Rome in his thinking.

Bird's book is my favorite introduction to Paul that I have so far encountered. He straightforwardly deals with the important issues, he gives solid background and well-reasoned and balanced conclusions, all the while inviting the reader into Paul's rich and gospel-focused world. An extremely good book; thanks Mike. I look forward to digging into his more substantive Saving Righteousness of God at some point in the future to see how some of this plays out in more detail.

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