October 20, 2009

Gordon Fee, God's Empowering Presence

I have no intention of doing this important work justice in this short review, so instead, let me give a few words of appreciation. This nearly encyclopedic book encapsulates what must have been years of research and months of careful exegesis. The first three-fourths of the book consists of a passage-by-passage look at every mention and allusion to the Holy Spirit in Paul's letters. Each passage is exegeted with care, always with an eye to its context and its place in the larger argument of the letter. I had intended to only skim these chapters of exegesis, dipping in at what seemed to be important points, but kept finding myself absorbed in Fee's writing, and though I didn't read it in its entirety, I have no doubt it would repay careful study. The book then closes with a section of synthesis in which Fee brings together the fruits of his research.

The conclusions, like the exegesis they follow, are too extensive to summarize here, other than to say that Fee makes a very convincing case for the importance of the Holy Spirit to Paul's thinking, as well as to Paul's very life. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who is interested in Paul's life and letters or in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Fee also has, by nature of his own Pentecostal background, a keen eye to how this doctrine has been understood or misunderstood in contemporary formulations and church practices, and this book provides a well-grounded corrective to many distortions. If you're even considering this book, don't think twice. It is not to be missed.

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