The Apostle Paul in a Sentence
In the near future I will write a short review of Michael J. Gorman's superb little book, Reading Paul. Until then, here is Gorman's attempt at 'Paul in a sentence'.
"Paul preached, and then explained in various pastoral, community-forming letters, a narrative, apocalyptic, theopolitical gospel (1) in continuity with the story of Israel and (2) in distinction to the imperial gospel of Rome (and analogous powers) that was centered on God's crucified and exalted Messiah Jesus, whose incarnation, life, and death by crucifixion were validated and vindicated by God in his resurrection and exaltation as Lord, which inaugurated the new age or new creation in which all members of this diverse but consistently covenantally dysfunctional human race who respond in self-abandoning and self-committing faith thereby participate in Christ's death and resurrection and are (1) justified, or restored to right covenant relations with God and with others; (2) incorporated into a particular manifestation of Christ the Lord's body on earth, the church, which is an alternative community to the status-quo human communities committed to and governed by Caesar (and analogous rulers) and by values contrary to the gospel; and (3) infused both individually and corporately by the Spirit of God's Son so that they may lead "bifocal" lives, focused both back on Christ's first coming and ahead to his second, consisting of Christlike, cruciform (cross-shaped) (1) faith and (2) hope toward God and (3) love toward both neighbors and enemies (a love marked by peaceableness and inclusion), in joyful anticipation of (1) the return of Christ, (2) the resurrection of the dead to eternal life, and (3) the renewal of the entire creation"
(Michael J. Gorman, Reading Paul, Eugene: Cascade Books, 2008. p. 8)
I couldn't help but feel he was cheating a bit by using such a long (German style) sentence! So here is a quick stab at an alternative (and shorter) suggestion:
'The Jew Paul was a Jesus Christ-obsessed and Christ-community-building canonical interpreter of Israel's Scriptures, proclaiming the Gospel of God to those living in an eschatologically charged time in the first century Mediterranean, and Roman Imperial, world'
A friend of mine, suggested using Paul's own self description:
'Chief of sinners'!
That is, of course, even shorter – and a bit clever! Perhaps we can trim even a few more words off:
Which would at least be factually true. But can we go even shorter? I think we can. At the risk of circularity:
Which tends to lack the explanatory power of Gorman's, but it is quicker to read.
What would be your 'Paul in a sentence'?