In the Mail – Paul Among the People

A brief word of thanks to Image Catholic Books for sending me a copy of Sarah Ruden’s Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time.  This book should be very interesting as it deals with a number of the more controversial issues surrounding the writings of Paul in modern times.

Amazon hasn’t posted a publisher’s description of the contents, but here is the editorial review they post:

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. –Ray Olson


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