The Apostle's Legacy in Early Christianity
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Sales Date: 2023-07-30
279 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.06 in
- Published: August 2023
For Professors: Exam Copies
After Paul: The Apostle’s Legacy in Early Christianity focuses on the many ways Pauline thought and tradition were reinterpreted, reused, reframed, and reconstructed in the first centuries of Christianity. James W. Aageson contends that it is insufficient simply to focus on Paul or on his legacy in the Greco-Roman world; what is needed is a bifocal look at Paul with the reference points being both how Paul transformed his own thinking and later how Paul and his thought were transformed by others in the church.
To speak of Paul’s legacy implies more than the reception of his texts, his ideas, or his theology. It also implies more than the interpretive techniques or the references to Paul by early post-Paul writers. It refers to the apostle’s wider impact, influence, and sway in the first centuries of the church as well. The questions he addressed, his impulse toward theological reflection and argumentation, and his approach to pastoral and ethical concerns undoubtedly influenced the future course of the Christ movement. Aageson’s investigation takes up the issues of memory and metamorphosis, conflict and opposition, authority and control, legacy and empire, the church and the Jews, women and marriage, Paul in place, and church unity to pinpoint interrelationships and interactions among important strands in Paul’s thought, persona, and authority as together they interfaced with the changing culture and social life of early Christianity.
After Paul is not intended to be a history of the first centuries of Pauline Christianity nor an exhaustive account of everything that pertains to the early development of Paul’s legacy. Rather, Aageson endeavors to plot connections, identify patterns, and develop a theoretical context for understanding Paul’s legacy in early Christianity. The picture that emerges is one of continuity and discontinuity between Paul and Pauline tradition as the historical Paul became a figure of memory and remembrance, framed and reframed. This specific investigation offers a fresh entry point to understanding the larger question of how the Christian tradition came into its own as a social body and religious movement that could endure even after Paul.
With methodological sophistication and good judgment, James Aageson gives readers significant new clarity about Paul’s influence on the development of the church in its first four centuries. Aageson shows how the different tellings of Paul’s life and martyrdom and different readings of his letters were constructed to meet needs and serve multiple, sometimes competing, communities. This engaging study provides a sure guide to thinking about the influence of Paul’s legacy (not simplistically of Paul) without overestimating it or denying its power. Everyone interested in the development of the church in its early centuries will find this book a vital contribution.~Jerry L. Sumney, Professor of Biblical Studies, Lexington Theological Seminary
No one is more qualified to write a book about the Pauline legacy than James Aageson. Developing previous research, he focuses on eight specific and important Pauline topics to explore the Pauline legacy. Aageson is attuned to the latest approaches to New Testament textual study, and so considers memory, place, and social factors, among others, along with a variety of important textual traditions. Each chapter begins with a Pauline point of entry and then explores the complex and sometimes contradictory developments of this legacy. While I may disagree with what constitutes the historical Paul and the traditional Paul, I commend Aageson for his rigorous and thorough study of these issues.~Stanley E. Porter, President, Dean, and Professor of New Testament, McMaster Divinity College, Canada
James Aageson gives us new insights into the fascinating process of constant reinterpretations of the founding traditions and texts of the movement of emerging Christianity, which found in Paul its first author and interpreter. Paul’s legacy allows us to understand the creativity, innovation, and richness of perspective of the Pauline texts and to trace how Paul's interpretation of the world, with its main topics and themes, was gradually transformed through a chain of interpretive steps into the Christian theology of Tertullian and Irenaeus. An excellent introduction to the history of theology in emerging Christianity.~Oda Wischmeyer, Professor Emerita of Ancient Judaism and New Testament, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg