Review of “Contours of Pauline Theology” by Tom Holland

Source: Review of “Contours of Pauline Theology” by Tom Holland

By: Brian G. Chilton | May 22, 2018

Holland, Tom. Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical New Survey of the Influences on Paul’s Biblical Writings. Scotland, UK: Mentor, 2004. $19.99. 392 pages.

Dr. Tom Holland (Professor of NT and Hermeneutics at Wales Evangelical School of Theology, now Union School of Theology) has revolutionized the way I read the NT in his book “Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical New Survey on the Influences on Paul’s Biblical Writings.” Holland argues that Paul and the NT writers did not alter the message of Jesus in order to “hellenize” it for a Gentile world. Rather, they remained true to the message of Christ which was based upon the New Exodus Motifs (that is, showing a salvation story of redemption taken from the themes of the Exodus account).

In the first section, chapters one through four evaluate the heritage of the OT promises, Passover, and methodological presuppositions of many scholars. Here, Holland argues that the NT is completely based upon the ancient teachings of Jesus, which was itself based on themes found in the Exodus.

The second section shows connections between the Paschal Community and Paul’s emphases on the body of sin, eschatological marriage, and baptism. The third section does the same as the second although it is focused more on Paul’s soteriology in the realm of the Passover. The fourth section is devoted to the discussion of Christology as seen in the Passover motif. Holland’s assessment of the hymn in Colossians is superb!

This book may not be for everyone. It is highly academic and can be dry in some areas. However, if one forges through the dry spots, one will find a depth of resources that will radically defend both the historicity and authenticity of the NT, and will deepen one’s theology in ways one could not imagine. I give this book five glowing stars!!!

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