Chad at HBU’s ‘Paul and Judaism’ Conference


Here’s Cataclysmic’s own Chad Chambers presenting his paper “Before I was Born: Paul’s Calling and the Question of Time in Galatians” at Houston Baptist University’s ‘Paul and Judaism’ conference going on today and tomorrow.

Chad did a great job and his paper was really interesting, taking a look at how Paul views time in the book of Galatians.  Definitely piqued my interest! Well done, brother!!


Frauen Friday: Beverly Roberts Gaventa

Happy Frauen Friday, everyone!  This week’s featured scholar is Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa.  She is one of the top Pauline scholars around and currently holds the position of Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.  Just a reminder, Dr. Gaventa is one of the keynote speakers for HBU’s ‘Paul and Judaism’ conference happening next week.  You don’t want to miss out so register soon and get on down to Houston, Texas!

“Beverly Roberts Gaventa joined the Baylor faculty in 2013. She previously taught at Princeton Theological Seminary, Columbia Seminary, and Colgate Rochester Divinity School. She has been active in a number of professional societies, including Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Theological Association. She has served on a number of editorial boards and lectured widely in the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, and Australia.” (from her faculty page at

I am currently reading Our Mother Saint Paul in which Gaventa considers the significance of maternal imagery used by Paul throughout his New Testament epistles… I hope to share more about this book as I work my way through it.  She has also written commentaries on Acts and 1 & 2 Thessalonians, a number of other books, and 70+ articles and essays.

While I am still getting acquainted with the works of Dr. Gaventa, I highly recommend her article “Is Galatians Just a ‘Guy Thing’?” (2000), a theological reading of Paul’s letter to the Galatians and how its message might speak to the experience of women today.

The inquiry I propose is neither ahistorical nor anti-historical. It simply urges the importance of asking other questions in addition to the conventional questions about the attitude of the historical Paul to women and their leadership in the Christian community. Those conventional questions inevitably become questions of permission and prohibition: What does Paul’s interpretation of the gospel permit women to do and what does the gospel prohibit women from doing? That way of putting things has the effect of truncating our reflection and, more important, it bears little resemblance to the dynamic character of Paul’s letters, letters that over and over again speak about vocation rather than about per- mission. These letters, instead, call for the question: What is God doing in the gospel of Jesus Christ and what does that gospel mean for the lives of women?” (269)

She concludes:

“Perhaps as Paul dictated this passionate letter, he saw in his mind’s eye the faces of women in the Galatian congregations and cast about for language that would persuade them of the impossibility of the Teachers’ version of the gospel. Or perhaps he gave the women not even a passing thought. As engaging as those and other scenarios may be, neither one constitutes an answer to the question of what Galatians may contribute theologically to women in the present. If, instead of asking only about the relationship between Paul and the historical audience of this letter, or about Paul’s attitudes toward women, we ask about the letter’s fundamental theological dynamics, then Galatians emerges as a powerful voice articulating God’s new creation, a creation that liberates both women and men from their worlds of achievement and identity.” (278)

Books to read by Gaventa:

Check out these articles:

  • “Is Galatians Just a ‘Guy Thing’? A Theological Reflection.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 54, no. 3 (2000): 267-78.
  • “Pentecost and Trinity.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 66, no. 1 (2012): 5-15
  • “The Cosmic Power of Sin in Paul’s Letter to the Romans: Toward a Widescreen Edition.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 58, no. 3 (2004): 229-240.
  • “Reading for the Subject: The Paradox of Power in Romans 14:1-15:6.” Journal of Theological Interpretation 5, no. 1 (2011): 1-12.

Videos of Gaventa teaching:

QOTD: Beverly Gaventa on Paul’s “Theological Horizon”

“Paul’s theological horizon is nothing less than the cosmos itself which is in need of deliverance, not merely from human misdeeds but also from the grasp of powers that are aligned against God.” – Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Our Mother Saint Paul (p.x)

Paul and Scripture

Like seemingly most things Pauline, Paul’s use of Scripture is an oceanic field of study. A steady stream of books, articles, and lectures flow from what seems to be an endless high tide of material.

Obviously, there are several reasons for the great interest in this subject but these three quotes help in finding a bearing:

N.T. Wright –  One of the central tensions in Paul’s thought, giving it again and again its creative edge, is the clash between the fact that God always intended what has happened in fact happened and the fact that not even the most devout Israelite had dreamed that it would happen like this. (Paul: In Fresh Perspective)

Richard Hays – The message Paul finds in the Old Testament is the gospel of Jesus Christ proleptically figured, a gospel proclaiming the inclusion of the Gentiles among the people of God…He saw himself…carrying forward the proclamation of God’s word as Israel’s prophets and sages had always done, in a way that reactivated past revelation under new conditions. (Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul)

Steve Moyise – Paul believed that the Scriptures were the very ‘oracles of God’ (Rom 3:2) and thus carried supreme authority in all matters. However, he had also come to believe that the divine plan revealed in Scripture had taken a significant step forward in the coming of Jesus Christ…This revelation caused Paul to look at the Scriptures with new eyes, sometimes clarifying what was written and sometimes reinterpreting it. (Paul and Scripture) 

Paul redefines, reactivates, even reinterprets scripture in light of God’s revelation of Jesus Christ. While his readings may not seem that foreign to many of us, that is only because we are conditioned to read the Old Testament through the eyes of Paul. Paul was our original guide through the Old Testament and so it hard for us to imagine how shocking many of interpretations must have been to the first hearers of his letters.

So how did Paul arrive at his conclusions? Steve Moyise (Paul and Scripture) lists three modern approaches to Paul’s use of scripture: 

  1. Intertextual –  A text is not discreet packet of meaning but part of web of other texts. Quotes/Allusions bring in more than cited words but also associations from surrounding verses. (e.g. Richard Hays)
  2. Narrative – A text (quote, allusions) brings with it is a narrative framework. The key to understanding its meaning is finding the larger story on which it hangs not in investigating the surrounding context. (e.g. N.T. Wright)
  3. Rhetorical –  Highlights what Paul does with the text in order to persuade his readers to accept his interpretation. Rhetorical views focus on those things to which Paul draws attention and not to those things he conceals. (e.g. Christopher Stanley)

Which view (or whose view) do you find the most helpful? Which views (or whose views) do you find the most suspect? Is there a view missing from the list?

Classic Works in Pauline Scholarship?

Richard Hays identifies three ways a work can be deemed a classic in his Forward to Victor Paul Furnish’s Theology and Ethics in Paul. (Hays’ examples listed)

1. Comprehensive marshaling of data – they gather up what is known about a subject in an all-inclusive way (e.g. Martin Hengel’s Judaism and Hellenism)

2. Provocative, paradigm changing thesis – often highly controversial and generate ongoing debate within the discipline for many years after their publication ( e.g. E.P. Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism)

3. Consensus forming – concise but sagacious study that enters a confused, amorphous area of inquiry and articulates balanced synthetic judgments that promote the formation of a new consensus (e.g. Victor Paul Furnish’s Theology and Ethics in Paul)

Obviously Hays already identified several, but what other books are ‘classics’ within Pauline Studies? Why are they a classic?