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date: 22 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the interpretation of the letters of the Apostle Paul and his extensive legacy in the patristic period. The first two sections consider his importance during his lifetime, his focus on the ‘word of the cross’, the collection of his letters, the patristic corpus of thirteen or fourteen Pauline letters, and controversies surrounding his teaching, including debates about Christology and marriage. The rest of the chapter sketches out four different portraits of Paul, with attention to particular passages in his letters that inspired them. Paul is pictured as: guide on the road to perfection (Origen), champion of free will (Pelagius), herald of salvation by divine grace alone (Augustine), and embodiment of all virtue (John Chrysostom). Patristic exegetes engage not only with Paul’s theology but also with the person of the ‘divine Apostle’, and they understand exegesis of his letters as a process that involves the whole self of the interpreter.

Keywords: Paul, controversy, marriage, Origen, Pelagius, Augustine, John Chrysostom, free will, perfection, virtue

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