Library News – August

All through July we did Romans. Simon and Sally have expounded St. Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, week by week, bit by bit, until we ought all to know the text and understand Paul’s message. Shouldn’t we?

Well, you can’t cover the letter to the Romans in four sermons, and Romans is only one of Paul’s letters. So I looked in the Library to see if we had any books that would help us carry on listening to what Paul had to say.

It’s important to listen to him. His letters are the earliest accounts we have of Christian experience and Christian thinking, earlier than the Gospels by about twenty years. In them he thinks about and explains the transformation God brought about through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. His thoughts have been the foundation of our Church’s doctrine and practice ever since.

We do have some Bible commentaries on his letters, and I’ll get some more, but I find that a good way of reaching Paul is to learn about his background and the world he lived in, and the problems he found in the places where he founded the churches. Over the thirty years of his mission work, he travelled about ten thousand miles, by ship, on foot, by mule. The letters that have survived to us began about twenty years in to this.

So Ronald Brownrigg’s “Pauline Places” is a nice start to envisaging Paul’s journeys. Then J. B, Phillips’ “Letters to Young Churches” introduces each letter with a summary of when and where and why it was written. Rowan Williams’ “Meeting God in Paul”, and Tom Wright’s “What St. Paul really said”, are two different approaches, and if you want to be really serious, we have N T Wright’s “Paul in Fresh Perspective”, and Gunther Bornkamm’s “Paul”. So carry on where Simon and Sally left off, and get to know Saint Paul!

Rosemary Smith

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