The Pauline Epistles are intriguing and exciting on many levels. They are associated with the apostle Paul, who is one of the most important figures of the early church. These Epistles include some of the earliest Christian texts and they have been foundational for Christian theology and ethics. This corpus is effective for spiritual formation as well as doctrinal formation but also contains a number of challenging and interesting issues that continue to occupy scholarship. Through a study of Paul’s life, the course situates the epistles in their proper historical, biographical, and cultural contexts. The course will focus on Paul, the Pauline corpus, and Pauline theology.
LEARNING OUTCOMES (Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude)
Specific Objectives – Through reading, lectures, discussion forums, and the completion of assignments the student will:
- Understand Paul’s identity, life narrative, and mission in his first-century context, as well as the controversies that surround him and his letters.
- Know the message and structure of individual Pauline Epistles in light of the critical issues and historical contexts that are foundational to uncovering the meaning of the texts and learn key Pauline themes.
- Identify and explain key issues in the study of Paul and his letters; relate the Pauline texts to their Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman contexts; undertake basic exegesis of Pauline texts.
- Students will be able to identify the major topics of debate in the interpretation of the Pauline letters and to articulate some of the chief alternatives in the scholarly discussion
- Appreciate scripture and its writing through meaningful encounters with the content and the people involved (Paul, the churches, the individual recipients).
- Have a worldview that coherently processes and reflects Pauline theology and demonstrates an ability to integrate Paul’s letters into reflection on pastoral issues of today.
- Emerge transformed by appropriately interacting with and responding to Paul’s teaching and exhortations.
(ATA recommends that an MDiv student should read at least 750 pages during the course of any subject)
A standard English translation of the Bible (ESV, NIV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NEB, etc.).
Bird, Michael, ed. Four Views on the Apostle Paul. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.
Dunn, James D.G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.
Bruce W. Longenecker and Todd D. Still. Thinking Through Paul: A Survey of His Life, Letters, and Theology. (Zondervan, 2014).
Aageson, James W. Written Also for Our Sake: Paul and the Art of Biblical Interpretation. Louisville; Westminister / John Knox, 1993.
Ascough, Richard S. What are They Saying About the Formation of the Pauline Churches? New York; Paulist, 1998.
Barrett, C. K. Paul: An Introduction to His Thought. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1994.
Bassler, Jouette M., ed. Pauline Theology, Volume I: Thessalonians, Philippians, Galatians, Philemon. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991.
Becker, Jürgen. Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1993.
Beker, J. Christiaan. Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980.
Best, Ernest. Paul and His Converts. Edinburgh: T.& T. Clark, 1988.
Carson, D.A.; O’Brien, Peter T.; and Seifrid, Mark A., ed S. Justification and Variegated Nomism: A Fresh Approach to Paul and Second Temple Judaism. 2 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004.
Das, A. Andrew Paul and the Jews. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003
Donfried, Karl P., and Marshall, I. Howard. The Theology of the Shorter Pauline Letters. New Testament Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Dunn, James D. G. Paul and the Mosaic Law. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.
Dunn, James D. G., ed. The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Hays, Richard B. Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven, CT.: Yale University Press, 1989.
Holland, Tom. Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical New Survey of the Influences on Paul’s Biblical Writings. Mentor, 2010.
Koperski, Veronica. What are they saying about Paul and the Law?. New York: Paulist, 2001.
Marshall, I.H. Luke: Historian and Theologian. Grand Rapids, MI: Intervarsity Press, 1988.
Matera, Frank J. Strategies for Preaching Paul. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2001.
Meeks, Wayne. The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.
O’Connor, Jerome. Paul: A Critical Life. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.
Petersen, Norman R. Rediscovering Paul: Philemon and the Sociology of Paul’s Narrative World. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.
Plevnik, Joseph. What are they saying about Paul?. New York: Paulist, 1986.
Richards, E. Randolph. Paul and First – Century Letter Writing. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2004.
Ridderbos, Herman. Paul: An Outline of His Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.
Sanders, E. P. Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977.
Schnelle, Udo. Apostle Paul: His Life and Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.
Schreiner, Thomas R. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. Downers Grove, Ill. : Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
Staniforth Maxell (Trans), The Apostolic Fathers Early Christian Writings, Penguin Books, 1987.
Thompson, James W. Pastoral Ministry According to Paul: A Biblical vision. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.
Witherington, III, Ben. The Paul Quest: The Renewed Search for the Jew of Tarsus. Donwners Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998.
Wright, N.T. The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.
Wright, N.T., Paul in Fresh Perspective. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005.
SUPPLEMENTARY AND TOOLS (Bibliography)
Further reading lists at the end of most of the day topics or sections provide a basis for further study in greater depth on particular issues within each section of the book, and you can access to books that are generally available in Perlego.
A number of standard reference books can be used for studying Paul’s writings. As the first step students are encouraged to look up the relevant articles on the NT documents in dictionaries such as ABD, DPHL, DJG2, and DLNTD.
ABD, D. N. Freedman, ed. Anchor Bible Dictionary (6 vols). New York: Doubleday, 1992.
DLNTD R. P. Martin and P. H. Davids, eds., Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments. Leicester/ Downers Grove: IVP, 1997.
DNTB C. A. Evans and S. E. Porter, eds., Dictionary of New Testament Background. Leicester/Downers Grove: IVP, 2000.
DPHL. Hawthorne, Gerald F., Ralph P Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1993.
In this section, you will find works that are found very helpful and these commentaries are often referred to as ‘exegetical’ (and ‘exegesis’) – referring to understand what the text would have meant to its original readers; ‘expository’ and ‘exposition’ refer to trying to explain the significance that the text might have for readers today to engage in a detailed study of Paul’s Letters.
AB or Anchor Bible Ongoing series of full commentaries using Greek in transliteration, generally providing detailed notes followed by explanatory discussion of each passage.
ANTC Abingdon NT Commentary Intended to provide ‘compact critical commentaries’ catering to the needs of students and preachers.
BECNT Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT Detailed commentaries working with the Greek, but generally accessible for those who do not have Greek.
BST The Bible Speaks Today Expository commentaries with varying amounts of detail; useful for preachers.
EBC The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Multi-volume series on the whole Bible originally published some thirty years ago now appearing in a thoroughly revised new edition with many fresh treatments.
ECC Eerdmans Critical Commentary New series offering detailed exegesis based on the Greek text.
Herm Hermeneia Detailed technical commentaries on the Greek text.
ICC International Critical Commentary Full-scale treatments of the Greek text. Older, nineteenth- and twentieth-century volumes are now being replaced by fresh volumes.
Int Interpretation Middle-length commentaries are specifically designed to be helpful to preachers.
IVPNTC InterVarsity Press New Testament Commentaries Similar to BST in bringing out the contemporary relevance of the text, but with a greater emphasis on the basic exegesis.
NAC New American Commentary Multi-volume series, aiming to be exegetical and expository; largely from a conservative and Baptist background.
NIGTC New International Greek Testament Commentary Detailed commentaries on the Greek text; less technical than ICC.
NIVAC NIV Application Commentary Offering a combination of exegesis and application linked together by a ‘bridge’ between then and now.
TNTC Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Introductory-level commentaries providing the essential exegetical help.
WBC Word Biblical Commentary Detailed commentaries using Greek quite widely; less technical than ICC.
One Volume Bible Commentaries
Several one-volume commentaries that are helpful to the study of Paul, though it covers the whole Bible or the NT:
- Barton and J. Muddiman, eds. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
- D. G. Dunn and J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. (This and the previous title are two very similar works that attempt to express the state of biblical scholarship at the beginning of the new millennium.)
- K. Beale and D. A. Carson, eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic/ Nottingham: Apollos, 2007. (Very detailed, at times technical, treatment of the quotations from, allusions to and echoes of the OT in the NT.)
- A. Carson et al., eds. The New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition. Leicester/ Downers Grove: IVP, 1994. (Introductory level with more emphasis on explanation of the text than the Eerdmans and Oxford counterparts; unlike them does not include Apocrypha.)
Brian C. Wintle, et.al eds. South Asia Bible Commentary, Open Door Publications Pvt. Ltd. Udaipur India, 2015.
Links to Numerous Web Resources are included in the syllabus below. Among the most useful web sites on the Letters of Paul, see especially:
- New Testament Gateway, by Dr. Mark Goodacre, University of Birmingham, England
- Pauline Studies Resources, from a course on The Writings of St. Paul by Dr. Sheila McGinn, John Carroll University
- Paul’s Mission and Letters: Wayne Meeks and Michael White, From Jesus to Christ Web Site
- Footsteps of Paul: A Virtual Tour of the Journeys of Paul – Recommended for browsing
ATTENDANCE, PARTICIPATION, AND CLASSROOM ETIQUETTE
- Participants are expected to attend each of the six weekly live session of the course. Perfect attendance, while desired, is not always possible to achieve for reasons beyond a participant’s control. Accordingly, a participant may have one unexcused class absences. Additional absences, will result in a reduction in the participant’s grade. Absence from more than three classes will automatically result in the participant being withdrawn from the course, and the final evaluation will so reflect.
- All participants are expected to actively engage the course material and class discussions. Class participation forms an element of the grade for participants taking the course.
- Because all classes are conducted via Global Classroom google meet, participants must mute their microphone once the class has begun and unmute when they wish to ask a question, make a comment or respond to something raised during the class. Care must be taken not to “speak over” one another.
- Participants are expected to always show the utmost courtesy and respect for others participating in the course
ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING
(ATA recommends that an MDiv student should write a minimum of 2500 words during the course of a subject).
A. Discussion Forum (42% weightage)
Weekly Discussions and Written Responses: 200 words for Initial Response and 100 peer responses.
Every Wednesday a weekly discussion question will become visible. Each student will read through the question and take time to formulate a response. The aim for responses is to display a thorough understanding of daily video lessons, reading material, or even a selected multimedia content and relate it practically to life and ministry situations. The initial response should be 200 words to answer the questions and then each student should respond (100 words) to the submitted response of other students posted on the Discussion board. In order to maximize the benefit of this element of the course, the student should post his/her initial response by 11:59 pm on Wednesday of the week and then spend the remainder of that week interacting with their colleagues in the class until Saturday at 11:59 pm.
B. Quiz (weekly or daily quiz) 18%weightage:
A self-assessment quiz that consists of multiple-choice, true/false questions, short answers, text with feedback. Note that quizzes are used for self-assessment and not formal exams – so formative. These quizzes are based on video lectures, reading assignments, multimedia content, etc.
C. Book Review: 500-800 words 15%
Write a critical book review of any of the books from Recommended Readings mentioned above.
The review needs to concentrate more on the ideas than on the details. Talk about (1) the author’s overall theme and thesis of the book, (2) the author’s purpose and/or agenda of the book, (3) the book’s structure and/or order of the materials and its relation to the purpose of the book, (4) the book’s strengths and shortcomings, and (5) the book’s contributions and implications. To address these areas, you will need to include some content, but try to focus on the main issues that he raises and deals with.
D. Essay/Research Paper: 1000-1200 Words, 25%.
This paper should be approximately 5 pages. Write an essay/research paper that directly engages with one of the issues, themes, events, or people encountered in the course using secondary sources. In other words, research is required for this paper. The paper must be transparent, meaning that you will clearly state what your primary and secondary sources are, and how you have gone about turning them into “data” for your argument.
You need to demonstrate familiarity with the specifics and details of the issues, themes, events, or people you selected, as well as demonstrate your ability to place your topic within the larger context of Christian history. The paper should not simply report, summarize, or review materials, but demonstrate thoughtful analysis and reflection and embody an argument (thesis), which will be a summary of the paper’s argument, early in the introduction. The body of the paper will support your thesis. Show how your argument is drawn from the primary and secondary sources you used by carefully documenting it.
Choose any one of the following questions for research paper.
- Make a reconstruction of Paul’s understanding of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts on the basis of 1 Corinthians.
- Make a study of what Corinth itself was like in the first century and the effects of this environment on the planting of a Christian congregation. What are Paul’s challenges or the issues he finds in the church, and how does he address them?
- How far can Romans be regarded as a statement of the central aspects of Paul’s gospel or theology? What essential issues or themes are touched on in it?
- Compare the teaching about what happens to believers after death or the coming of Christ in 1 Thess. 4; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5 and Phil. 1 to see if they present a consistent understanding. Write Paul’s eschatological thoughts in the letters to the Thessalonians
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR THE SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN WORK
Submission Method and Late Submission
Submission: Papers to be submitted electronically in .doc or .docx format via Global Classroom
Late Submission Penalties:
- Weekly Responses and Primary Source Analysis Paper will NOT be accepted as
- All other late assignments will be penalized 1% (1 point) per
In all assigned work, proper style guidelines must be used and followed exactly; failure to do so will render the submitted assignment unacceptable.
For proper citation style, consult the FBC Style Guide or the full edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers: Seventh Edition, especially chapters 5 and 6 for arrangement of entries through in-text citations and Works Cited.
Integrity in academic work is required of all our students. Academic dishonesty is any breach of this integrity, and includes such practices as cheating (the use of unauthorized material on tests and examinations), submitting the same work for different classes without permission of the instructors; using false information (including false references to secondary sources) in an assignment; improper or unacknowledged collaboration with other students, and plagiarism.
Global Classroom takes seriously its responsibility to uphold academic integrity, and to penalize academic dishonesty.
ONLINE PRIMARY SOURCE READINGS
The readings can be found as PDF files on the course web page at under “Materials”.