Introduction to the Study of Paul

Review of David G. Horrell, An Introduction to the Study of Paul, 3rd edn (T & T Clark Approaches to Biblical Studies; London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2015), ISBN 978-0-567-65625-4, p/b, 230 pp.

The third edition of David Horrell’s introduction to the study of Paul has the great strengths of its predecessors – above all, clarity and readability. This is indeed a book that can be put into the hands of undergraduates without fear of their stumbling over technical terms or abstruse concepts. It continues also to have the virtue of being an introduction to the range of views on aspects of Paul’s life and writings, rather than arguing for particular perspectives of its own. This makes it an excellent starting-point for the classroom where, of course, students are encouraged to assess different opinions rather than simply swallow a line.

The book has been updated with reference to the later scholarship. Horrell avoids too detailed an engagement with the debates in his main text, while providing very helpful lists of ‘further reading’ at the end of each chapter.

The content, style and approach reflect the wisdom and skill of an experienced university teacher. Particularly commendable is Horrell’s sensitivity to the fact that students approach Paul from a range of starting-points, outside as well as within the Christian faith. My colleagues and I recommend this book for our seminary setting, but in this context, notwithstanding its clarity, it may not be the first book on Paul we suggest students read – precisely because it is the ‘study of Paul’ rather than Paul himself that it introduces. Other contenders for a more ‘introductory introduction’ are Timothy Gombis’s Paul: A Guide for the Perplexed (also T & T Clark; 2010) and Neil Richardson’s Paul for Today: New Perspectives on a Controversial Apostle (Epworth; 2008).

Stephen I. Wright

Spurgeon’s College, London


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3 thoughts on “Introduction to the Study of Paul”

  1. I’ve found E.P. Sanders’ Paul: A Very Short Introduction to be an excellent primer on the “new perspective,” as well as being a great general intro to Paul’s thinking and setting. Like all Sanders’ work, it’s admirably impartial.

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