Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book Review from the pastor: Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul by Lars Kierspel

Kierspel continues the series being put out by Kregel Academic that takes massive amounts of information on various New Testament books or subjects and puts it into chart form. The bar was set pretty high with the book on Hebrews, and Kierspel does not disappoint. 

The work is divided into four sections. 

  1. In the first section, charts are put together that cover Paul's background and context. It is very helpful to see the historical context of Paul's life and writings, from the Emperors who reigned to the political, social, and military orders of the day, the reader is given a quick glimpse into Paul's world. 
  2. Section two covers Paul's life and ministry. This section deals heavily with Paul's life itself. Cities he visited, people he influenced and mentioned, his journeys and coworkers, and a variety of other information is boiled down into chart format and presented to the reader. 
  3. Section three moves into Paul's letters themselves and puts into the reader's hands a great amount of information on Paul's writings. A snapshot of each epistle is given, along with parallels with other letters and Old Testament usages. 
  4. The final section delves into theology, looking at each major category of systematic theology as presented in Paul, as well as dealing with some of the challenges that the reader of Paul faces (such as reconciling Paul with James).

The strength of the material is definitely the format. You can probably find most of the information given in various commentaries on the letters of Paul, but the chart format puts it all together in one place and boils it down to its fundamental points of comparison. A minor weakness I noticed while reading through may just be a point of disagreement instead of a weakness. In a chart on dissimilarities in Paul, Kierspel uses the example of Paul's treatment of the husband-wife relationship, giving evidence from Paul supporting both a complementary and egalitarian position. I thought the use of Galatians 3:28 in contrast to Ephesians 5 was not a valid comparison. There is a difference between ontological category (Gal. 3) and God-given roles and responsibilities (Eph. 5). This was a minor point of disagreement though.

I happily give Charts a 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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