Monthly Archives: February 2008

Review: Baptist Times (Trevor Reynolds)

A New look at Paul
‘Contours of Pauline Theology’

A Radical New Survey of the influences on Paul’s Biblical writings
By Tom Holland    Christian Focus:Mentor 2004  £14.99
ISBN 1-85792-469-X
Reviewer: Trevor Reynolds

As Christians, we frequently read our Bibles exclusively in terms of how it applies to ‘me’ rather than ‘us’. Thus, perhaps unwittingly, we become even more embedded in the individualistic ‘me culture’ of today. In this new book, Dr Holland forcefully argues that we need to read the Scriptures in a much more corporate way. He does this by showing how Paul wrote his letters from the viewpoint of one who had been schooled in the corporate/covenant categories of the Old Testament which he went on to apply to his understanding of Christianity. As a Jew, Paul would have thought of salvation primarily in terms of the Exodus and Passover sacrifice, categories which are fundamental to a proper understanding of Paul’s writings.

Continue reading Review: Baptist Times (Trevor Reynolds)

Review: Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism Bulletin (David Bond)

Tom Holland, Contours of Pauline Theology (Scotland, Fearn, Ross-shire: Mentor Imprint, Christian Focus Publications, 2004)

Contours of Pauline Theology, the outcome of many years of doctoral research by its author (a lecturer at the Evangelical Theological College of Wales) is a significant new work encompassing a vast range of scholarly study.  It is a carefully researched, thought-provoking and helpful work.  Noting that, ‘For generations scholars have claimed that Paul was the creator of Christianity’, as also that ‘Paul Hellenised the Jewish message’ (p.11), Dr Holland demonstrates above all how Paul operated totally within Jewish parameters of thought, particularly in his theology of the Gospel as a New Exodus.

This is a book to be placed in the hands of serious academics, Jewish or Christian, who are interested in Pauline studies and the relationship between Christianity and Judaism.  But it is also a book for those of us who are involved in Jewish evangelism as we seek to show our Jewish friends that Paul’s Gospel is wholly Jewish.

Continue reading Review: Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism Bulletin (David Bond)

Review: Congregational Concern (Dr. Chris Sinkinson)

Contours of Pauline Theology
Tom Holland
Mentor Press, Ross-Shire, 2004

There is, at present, a huge debate going on in theological studies over the interpretation of Paul and his letters. Among Protestants the massive influence of Luther and Calvin has established a widely accepted understanding of Paul, legalistic religion, the atonement and justification by faith. However, this orthodoxy has been significantly questioned through the present debate. E.P. Sanders provided evidence that first century Judaism had been badly misunderstood by Protestants. The Jewish background to the rise of Christianity was not a religion of works but a much more sophisticated “covenantal nomism”. Evangelicalism has been forced to rethink its understanding of these issues particularly with the influential work of N.T.Wright. To cap it all, at a very popular level, the new perspective has even had its bearing on the recent controversial book from Steve Chalke  – The Lost Message of Jesus.

Continue reading Review: Congregational Concern (Dr. Chris Sinkinson)

Review: Evangel (Dr. Stephen Dray)

Contours of Pauline Theology
Tom Holland
Fearn: Mentor, 2004
382pp, h/b, £14.99
ISBN 1-85792-369-X

The purpose of this important book is to demonstrate that, in contra-distinction to most contemporary New Testament scholarship, Paul was not the innovator who created Christianity but a faithful disciple of Jesus who never left his inherited religion of the Old Testament. The present reviewer, an Old Testament specialist, finds Holland’s arguments as largely compelling and would suggest that Holland has re-integrated the faith of Old and New Testaments in a manner that serves effectively to emphasise the unity of Scripture.

Continue reading Review: Evangel (Dr. Stephen Dray)

Review: The Paul Page (Mark Mattison)

Contours of Pauline Theology
A Radical New Survey of the Influences on Paul’s Biblical Writings

Book Review

Tom Holland, Scotland, UK: Mentor, 2004, 392 pp.
Generally speaking, conservative Reformed criticisms of the new perspective on Paul strike me as lackluster and predictable. That cannot be said, however, of Tom Holland’s new book, which is bound to shake loose some long-standing presuppositions in Pauline studies.

The book is not without its weaknesses. Holland’s apparent anxiety about the contributions of liberal scholarship (a hallmark of conservative works) can be slightly distracting. One may also question whether Holland has adequately made his case that the literature of second-temple Judaism is too fragmentary to provide much insight into Pauline studies, while at the same time apparently presupposing that nothing stood culturally between the texts of ancient Israel and Paul’s understanding of those texts. The significance of intertestamental writings, many of us believe, is that they serve as reference points in recovering the way in which Jews of that time understood their Scriptures, and considering the fact that we know Paul only through a scattered collection of letters bearing his name, one could very well argue that understanding the apostle’s thought is actually more challenging than understanding the thought of other authors of the time, and quite frankly we can use all the help we can get.

Continue reading Review: The Paul Page (Mark Mattison)

Review: Evangelical Times (Philip Eveson)

Contours of Pauline theology
Tom Holland
Christian Focus (Mentor)
382 pages

ISBN 1-85792-469-X

This is a book for scholars and those with a particular interest in Paul’s theology.

If Tom Holland’s conclusions are accepted, then it would mean a radical rethinking in the way we approach some of the well-known passages of Paul’s letters.

The author’s aim is commendable. He seeks to be rid of the old liberal idea that Paul was the creator of Christianity, that he introduced Greek influences, and transformed the original message into something quite different from what Jesus had proclaimed.

Continue reading Review: Evangelical Times (Philip Eveson)

Response to the review by Peter Misselbrook

The Evangelical Theological College of Wales
Bryntirion House
South Wales CF31 4DX
Response to the review by Peter Misselbrook.

Dear Sir,

I am grateful to Mr Misselbrook for his positive comments in answer to my suggestion concerning the corporate reinterpretation of Romans 6 and 7, as well as the doctrine of justification, made in my book Contours of Pauline Theology.

There are some points over which he expresses disagreement and I would like to respond to them.

Continue reading Response to the review by Peter Misselbrook

Review: Evangelicals Now (Peter Misselbrook)

Contours of Pauline theology

Forced theology

By Tom Holland
Mentor/Christian Focus. 291 pages + 90 pages appendices, bibliography and indexes
ISBN 1 85792 469 X

My verdict on this book? I really cannot improve on that of Dr. Peter Head, who, on the front cover, describes it as, ‘Challenging, unsettling and infuriating’.

Dr. Tom Holland teaches New Testament and Hermeneutics at the Evangelical Theological College of Wales. He writes to demonstrate that Paul ‘never left the religion of the Old Testament’ and ‘never departed from the teaching of Jesus’. In this he follows in the footsteps of Tom Wright in What St. Paul Really Said and David Wenham in Paul and Jesus. But Dr. Holland believes that he has uniquely discerned the key to Paul’s thinking: he argues that no other scholar has paid sufficient attention to the way in which Paul’s understanding of salvation is modelled on the New Exodus promise of the Old Testament. In particular, Dr. Holland argues that the Passover is key to understanding Paul’s doctrine of redemption and provides the background to his use of the term ‘firstborn’ as a title for Christ.

Continue reading Review: Evangelicals Now (Peter Misselbrook)