Being and Becoming
Human Transformation in the Letters of Paul
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Sales Date: 2021-08-30
366 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: September 2022
In Being and Becoming, Frederick David Carr offers a fresh examination of the theme of human transformation and identity in Paul's letters. Carr structures his investigation beneath two acute questions about Paul's writings: What does Paul mean when he speaks of people being transformed? What do such transformations tell us about Paul's understanding of the self? Carr's study yields new insights into the apostle's anthropology, shedding light on the interpretation of the Pauline canon.
Carr approaches the topic of "new creation" in Paul's letters analytically, comparatively, and synthetically. Analytically, he gives special attention to specific references to human transformation found in the Pauline epistles. Comparatively, he places Paul's transformation references into conversation with a range of other ancient writings, and in doing so highlights the distinctiveness of the apostle's approach to anthropological questions. Synthetically, he considers how these varied references relate to one another and what they entail for how we understand the apostle's thought. From these categories, Carr develops a phenomenology of human transformation in Paul and analyzes the "models" of selfhood at work in his language of human change.
Carr argues that Paul portrays human selfhood as, in part, constituted by transformation. Unlike some writers in antiquity, Paul does not describe change as a threat to the self—it is a fundamental element of subjectivity. Foundational changes in this life produce new moral selfhood in Christ's body, and eschatological transformation will effect wholesale change. In the present, believers' existence is determined by a state of becoming in Christ. For Christ-followers, therefore, transformation is not merely something that happens to the self, or just an aspect of who a believer is, but rather a defining feature of selfhood.
1 Human Transformation in Greco-Roman Antiquity
2 Human Transformation in Jewish Antiquity
3 Crucified with Christ: Human Transformation in Galatians
4 Conformity to Christ: Human Transformation in Philippians
5 Becoming Subjects of the New Creation: Human Transformation in the Corinthian Correspondence
6 The Self’s Death and Resurrection: Human Transformation in Romans
Conclusion: Transformation and Selfhood in Paul's Letters
Carr offers an illuminating and well-crafted study of the theme of transformation in the undisputed letters of Paul and establishes its central place in Paul’s conceptualization of the precise nature of the salvation—the deliverance—from the human predicament that God has put into effect through Christ and by the power of the Spirit. His careful consideration of the relationship of transformation to identity in Christ offers an important and fresh perspective on the well-established trope of the ‘indicative and imperative’ in Paul’s thought and writings. His focus on the place of relationships (both with God and one another) in this transformation, and indeed in the formation of a new ‘self’ in Christ, guards against any retreat into individualistic interpretations of Paul. This is a most welcome development and refinement of a trajectory that has been gaining momentum in Pauline studies in the recent history of interpretation.~David A. deSilva, Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary
In this significant analytical, synthetic, and comparative study, David Carr insightfully argues that, for the apostle Paul, each believer in the body of Christ is ‘less a human being than a human becoming.’ Carr insightfully explores this thesis with respect to past, present, and future transformations of several types—existential, moral, epistemic, somatic, ontological. The result is a major contribution to the field that is not to be missed.~Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary’s Seminary & University
In this intellectually sophisticated and exegetically rigorous study, Carr illumines the richly varied and innovative ways Paul explores the transformation of subjectivity and selfhood in Christian experience. Not only does this study situate Paul in continuity and discontinuity with his cultural context, but it also subtly invites readers to scrutinize their own assumptions about the self, subjectivity, and transformation as they encounter Paul’s ways of formulating the issues—a stimulating and sometimes unsettling experience.~Carol A. Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor Emerita of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Emory University