The Contribution Of F. F. Bruce To Pauline Studies: A Review Article -- By: Robert H. Mounce
JETS 23:1 (March 1980) p. 67
The Contribution Of F. F. Bruce To Pauline Studies:
A Review Article
Fortunately there is no need to dig through the archives in order to assemble the many articles that have come from the pen of F. F. Bruce on the subject of Paul and his contributions to Christian thought. They have been conveniently brought together in a book entitled Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free published in 1977 by the Paternoster Press in England and Eerdmans in the United States. This paper intends to provide an overview of the book and to highlight some of its more significant contributions.
Since the early 1920s Bruce has been a student and teacher of ancient literature. During this half century he has devoted more time and attention to Paul than to any other writer of antiquity. Upon arriving at the University of Manchester in 1959 he taught an already-prescribed course called “The Missionary Career of Paul in Its Historical Setting.” In addition Bruce has over the years given a number of public lectures at the John Rylands Library on various aspects of Pauline studies. This material provides the nucleus for the book under consideration. It has been written out of a desire to share with others some of the rich rewards that Bruce has reaped from a lifetime of study of Paul.
The book has thirty-eight chapters. It moves easily and naturally from topics such as “The Rise of Rome” and “The Jews Under Foreign Rule” through discussions of Paul’s conversion, the Jerusalem council, and the missionary journeys of Paul to “The Last Days of Paul: History and Tradition.” No important phase in the life of Paul, with the exception of the pastoral epistles, is omitted. In treating the last days of Paul and the question of a release from Roman imprisonment Bruce gives less than two pages to the evidence from the pastoral epistles. He cites with apparent agreement J. N. D. Kelly’s presentation of the argument for a second Roman imprisonment. He writes: “This is certainly a plausible—perhaps the most plausible—reconstruction of the course of events” (p. 444). It would be natural to infer that Bruce agrees with Kelly that the pastoral epistles were written by the apostle Paul, although nowhere in his book does he so indicate.
In discussing Paul’s background Bruce notes that although the apostle was born into a Jewish family that enjoyed citizen rights in a Greek-speaking city the fact that his family strictly observed the Jewish way of life would have given Paul little opportunity for absorbing the culture of Tarsus during his boyhood. Although according to Acts 22:3 Paul was educated in the school of Gamaliel, his pre-Christian attitude toward members of this believing sect was decidedly different from that of his mentor....
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