Tag Archives: paul

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)

Prepublication reviews

It is refreshing to read something radically new in such a popular area as Pauline studies. So often what promised new perspectives, new insights, turns out not to be essentially different. Tom Holland’s original and creative approach to Paul does not fall into this category.Here Paul is not the innovator of Christian doctrine- he received his theological model from his Jewish upbringing in which he was taught that Yahweh would bring about the promised New Exodus. Paul came to realize that this had been inaugurated by the paschal death of Christ. Thus Holland maintains that there existed a common hermeneutical model for both Judaism and the New Testament church i.e. the New Exodus. Justification is not a declaration of being in the covenant, but refers back to the creation of a covenant between Yahweh and His people. This view of justification fits in with Paul’s doctrine of corporate baptism, the washing of the believing community accomplished by the Spirit through the death of Christ. Paul’s theology is not individualistic, but corporate, so it is believers collectively as the church and not the believer’s individual body which comprise the temple of the Holy Spirit. I anticipate that if it finds acceptance, the proposals of this book should provide a timely and fruitful alternative to some of the theological emphases that have guided the church for too long.

Dr. William S. Campbell
Reader in Biblical Studies
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Wales, Lampeter


In his Contours of Pauline Theology Dr Holland argues forcefully that the main contours of Paul’s thought can only be understood when we understand Paul as an exegete and theologian of the Old Testament, with the hoped-for New Exodus, now fulfilled in Christ, at the centre of his reading strategy. This approach finds corporate and covenantal themes to lie at the very heart of Paul’s concerns. In constant critical engagement with the whole range of contemporary scholarship Holland maps out for himself and his readers new ways of understanding Paul and offers new insights into a range of absolutely vital issues from justification to Christology, and new insights into Pauline texts from Romans to Colossians. Challenging, unsettling and infuriating Dr Holland’s tour de force cannot be ignored.

Dr Peter Head,
Lecturer in Theology,
University of Cambridge, UK


Having watched Dr Holland developing his ideas over a period of several years, I am thrilled that his work is now available to a wider public. All who are interested in Paul’s theology will discover much that is stimulating and provocative here. He develops in detail his view that the Exodus events provide the vocabulary and imagery for much of what the apostle wishes to say about Christ, his salvation and his people. Apart from his novel interaction with the so-called “new perspective”, many will be fascinated by his work showing the influence of Passover themes in Paul’s understanding of Christ as “first born”, and in his theology of justification, covenant inclusion, baptism, etc. I warmly commend this work.

Dr. Paul D. Gardner
(Archdeacon of Exeter)


Dr. Tom Holland of the Evangelical Theological College of Wales has produced a significant contribution to the discussion of Pauline theology. He presents a Paul whose thinking is rooted in the Old Testament scriptures and developed within the framework of covenantal relationship. The two major lenses through which Paul’s letters must be viewed are a “New Exodus” paradigm and a corporate reading of the texts. When these lenses are used, it is clear that Paul’s theology is in full agreement with the teachings of Jesus and the other New Testament authors. Along the way, many of the new vectors in Pauline theology are explored and critiqued. Whether or not everyone will agree with Dr. Holland’s conclusions, all serious New Testament scholars must engage his evidence and his arguments in considering The Contours of Pauline Theology.

Dr. John D. Harvey
Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek
Columbia Biblical Seminary & School of Missions, USA