Living Through Dying: The Spiritual Experience of St. Paul

Douglas Dales, Author, A. MacDonald Allchin, Foreword by Lutterworth Press $39.5 (97p) ISBN 978-0-7188-2898-1
Paul of Tarsus, in many ways the founder of the early Christian movement, experienced a dramatic conversion on his way to Damascus. While the book of Acts records Paul's many missionary journeys to the early Christian churches, his letters to these communities are highly autobiographical and record his deep spiritual experiences. In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul declares that ""my one desire is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and to share his sufferings in growing conformity with his death, in hope of somehow attaining the resurrection of the dead"" (3:10-11). Dales, head of religious studies at Marlborough College, examines Paul's letters in-depth and argues that the motif of glory through suffering provides the foundation for Paul's teachings on justification by faith, the Church as the body of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Dales contends that many Old Testament passages provide Paul with interpretive lenses through which to view the suffering of Jesus and his own persecution as a Christian. Dales argues that texts such as Isaiah 53, Lamentations 3 and Psalm 22 represent the ""movement from darkness to light, through suffering to salvation...and [they] took on new meaning in light of the resurrection."" The author also asserts that such post-Pauline Christian writers as Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Alexandria emphasize the theme of glory through suffering, using Christ's crucifixion and resurrection as a model. Dales demonstrates through the evidence the ways in which early Christianity came to accept martyrdom as a glorious calling, since it promised, in the Christian conception at least, imminent resurrection as a reward for following Christ even unto death. Dales's accessible study offers a expansive overview of one chapter in the development of early Christianity. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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