Opening Paul's Letters: A Reader's Guide to Genre and Interpretation

Patrick Gray

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It is sometimes easy to forget that the books of the Bible are not really "books" at all but individual documents composed in a wide array of literary genres. This clear, concise, and accessible text on the Pauline Letters orients beginning students to the genre in which Paul writes. The book compares and contrasts Paul's letters with ancient and modern letters, revealing the distinctive conventions, forms, and purposes of Paul's Epistles. It focuses on the literary genre of the letter in ancient Greece and Rome, providing an overview of subjects, strategies, and concerns of immediate relevance for readers who wish to understand Paul in his ancient context. Discussion questions and sidebars are included.

"Appropriately interpreting a work entails recognition of its literary genre, and that is especially true for reading the Bible, which contains a wide variety of genres. Gray's delightful new book provides useful guidance to students in learning how to read Paul's letters as letters, doing so in light of ancient epistolary theory and practice and with an eye to how ancient conventions differ from those used today." -John Fitzgerald, University of Miami

"Patrick Gray provides a refreshing approach to interpreting Paul's letters that places these documents solidly in their ancient literary contexts. This clearly written and eminently practical work is sure to be appealing as a textbook for students or as an orientation for general readers. Instructors will appreciate the discussion questions, which provide guidance for review and further exploration in classroom settings. Reading this book will help change the way Paul's letters are read- for the better!" -Richard S. Ascough, Queen's University

Patrick Gray (PHD, Emory University) is associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College and the author or coeditor of several books.