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Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time
 
 
Author
Sarah Ruden.
Publisher Pantheon  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.5 x 5.75 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780375425011
Pages/Publication Date 214/2010
Daedalus Item Code 23532
This item is not available.
Description
It is a common and fundamental misconception that Paul told people how to live, argues classical scholar and translator Sarah Ruden in this superbly presented analysis of the evangelical apostle's world. Apart from forbidding certain abusive practices, Paul never gives any precise instructions for living; it would have violated his two main social principles: human dignity and freedom, and the need for people to love one another. Ruden illuminates just how radical these messages were in the brutality of 1st-century Rome and Greece, translating literary sources from Aristophanes to Seneca and setting them beside famous and controversial passages of Paul and their key modern interpretations. She writes about Augustine; about George Bernard Shaw's misguided notion of Paul as "the eternal enemy of Women"; and about the misuse of Paul in the English Puritan Richard Baxter's strictures against "flesh-pleasing." Ruden makes clear that Paul's ethics, in contrast to later distortions, were humane, open, and responsible.

"The astonishingly high quality of the new literature concerned with the greatest missionary apostle continues in poet and classical translator Ruden's cross-referencing of Paul and his literary confreres who describe the world in which Paul spread and strengthened the new faith in Christ. Her project enables her to call the standard repertoire of Pauline characterizations seriously into question. Paul's cross-references show us a Greek and Roman world of great brutality, given to pleasures carried to damaging and even fatal extremes. Nor was there any notion of inhumane punishment; hence, crucifixion, to which only commoners and slaves were subjected. Homosexuality was basically anal rape of adolescent boys, the more painful the better for the socially superior rapists. Women of high status were veiled, while unveiled women were treated as prostitutes and criminals. Slaves were so unequal to masters that they might have been a different, inferior species. The nonviolent love and community that Christianity preached radically differed from such exploitative, status-based norms, and Paul's preaching, perceived as being against homosexuality and higher status for non-ruling-class women and slaves, looks very different when contrasted with those Greco-Roman norms as reported by writers from Aristophanes to Apuleius. Judiciously citing her own behavior to bring certain points home to contemporary readers, Ruden is winningly intimate as well as impressively scholarly in this superb book."Booklist (starred review)

 
 
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