BAR 36:03, May/Jun 2010
ReViews: A Vision of Paul
The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church’s Conservative Icon
Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
(New York: HarperOne, 2009), 230 pp., $24.99 (hardcover), $13.99 (paperback)
The “First Paul” is the author of the Pauline letters generally accepted as authentic. Historically, according to Borg and Crossan, he was followed by “Conservative Paul” (the author of Colossians, Ephesians and 2 Thessalonians) and by “Reactionary Paul” (the author of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus). This is a clever pedagogic device, which they illustrate by showing the degradation of Paul’s attitude toward slavery and patriarchy. The reader’s admiration, however, quickly turns to bewilderment at the concluding mawkish comment, “How sad, how terribly, terribly sad” (p. 47).