There were four different portraits of Paul in the early church: the non-authoritarian Paul of the great Letters, the authoritarian, misogynist Paul of the Pastoral Epistles, the frenetic missionary who single-handedly introduced Christianity to the Mediterranean world, and the proto- Gnostic Paul of Marcion and the Gnostic commentaries on Paul s letters. Which is the real Paul? The Christian church opted for the Pastoral Epistles, and so read Paul letters through that lens. But that image has become so problematic in the modern world that many contemporary readers are either put off by Paul or simply ignore him. But was Paul really such a frightful figure? In providing a fresh reading of Paul s authentic letters, the SV translators have attempted to liberate his words from those of Augustine, and later Martin Luther, who used Paul to cover their own guilty consciences. This Augustinian-Lutheran tradition of interpreting Paul s discourses about justification by faith as a way of dealing with their own sense of moral failure, for instance, represents but one way of translating Paul s letters. The Greek of Paul s writings can be understood rather differently so that Paul s message is not about personal guilt, but about the trustworthiness of God, and Jesus courageous faith in God as a role model for others. This is how Paul s letters are translated in this book. Here readers will encounter a very different view of Paul and his message.
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