Another Great Book Find

11th July, 2013 - Posted by Claire Larsen - No Comments

It’s happened again. I found another great book I want to recommend.  Just by browsing online at Christian Book Distributors I discovered the book Paul and His Letters by John B. Polhill.  Now that the Acts portion of GGC:NT2 is halfway written, the epistles are looming ahead. I began reading Polhill’s book in preparation for writing the epistles. Polhill has an easy reading style. It is obviously a non-fiction book and can’t be characterized as a biography, but as I read the first chapters about the life of Paul, the text flows in a fiction-like style.  There’s a rhythm and beauty of his word choice that I don’t often find in a textbook. In his introduction Polhill says that his book is designed for college or seminary, but don’t let that stop you from checking it out.

Polhill has a vast knowledge of the New Testament world, and being familiar with the various aspects of the Roman world brings to life the people and places of Acts.  For instance, he has an entire section of the various types of city government within the Roman world. There were free cities, colonial cities, imperial cities, and veteran cities.  Each had a distinct relationship to the Roman government in Rome and a distinct way of governing themselves.  Polhill then identifies the various cities Paul visited during his journeys and identifies what kind of city each one was.  All this is helpful when writing about the epistles and what Paul said to each church.

I’m now reading about Paul as the “Hebrew of the Hebrews” and learning so much.

After several chapters about Paul’s life, Polhill writes about each one of Paul’s epistles. I haven’t gotten to this place in the book so I can’t speak much to this section except that for each epistle he sets the book into its cultural setting, provides an outline of the whole book, and then explains the content section by section. The book is hardback and is nearly 500 pages. But, looking at the book it doesn’t appear intimidating, and it really isn’t.

Do you want to understand Paul and the people of his world?  I recommend this book to you.

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