Fortress Press

Social-Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul

Social-Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul

Bruce J. Malina (Author), John J. Pilch (Author)


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This latest addition to the Fortress Social-Science Commentaries on New Testament writings illuminates the values, perceptions, and social codes of the Mediterranean culture that shaped Paul and his interactions —both harmonious and conflicted — with others. Malina and Pilch add new dimensions to our understanding of the apostle as a social change agent, his coworkers as innovators, and his gospel as an assertion of the honor of the God of Israel.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • ISBN 9780800636401
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 432
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Publication Date January 11, 2006


"If you are tired of reading the same 'new' book on Paul over and over, this commentary on the letters of Paul is the place to go next. In addition to traditional material on rhetoric and background, this social-scientific commentary brings to the fore necessary, significant and enlightening ways of understanding the social role of Paul and his social dynamics with the churches he founded. In this it is unique; it is the only comprehensive social-science reading of Paul. The reading scenarios at the end are themselves worth the price of this book."
— Jerome Neyrey, University of Notre Dame

"This is not the typical introspective, individualistic Paul of Western theology. Rather Malina and Pilch reveal Paul as a thoroughgoing Mediterranean person, functioning as a change agent among Israelites living in minority communities around the Greco-Roman world. Pauline theology will never look the same again."
— Richard L. Rohrbaugh, Lewis and Clark College


  Introduction;   Adobe Acrobat Document
  Preface;   Adobe Acrobat Document

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Table of Contents


    I. 1 Thess 1:1 Letter Opening (Superscription)
    II. 1 Thess 1:2–3:13 About the Relationship between the Change Agents and the Jesus Group They Formed
    III. 1 Thess 4:1–5:24 Directives and Exhortations
    IV. 1 Thess 5:25–28 Letter Closing: Salutation and Blessing

    I. 1 Cor 1: 1-8 Letter Opening (Superscription)
    II. 1 Cor 1:9–6:20 Reaction to a Report from Chloe's People
    III. 1 Cor 7:1–15:58 Response to Corinthian Questions
    IV. 1 Cor 16:5–24 Letter Closing: Salutations and Blessings

    I. 2 Cor 2:14–6:13 Letter 1: Written before the Dispute
    II. 2 Corinthians 10–13 Letter 2: Written during the Dispute
    III. 2 Cor 1:1–2:13 [7:5-16] Letter 3: Written after the Dispute
    IV. 2 Cor 8:1–24 Insert: Part of a Letter of Recommendation for Titus about the Collection for Jerusalem
    V. 2 Cor 9:1-15 Insert: Part of a Letter about the Collection for Jerusalem

    I. Gal 1:1-5 Letter Opening (Superscription)
    II. Gal 1:6-9 Introduction
    III. Gal 1:10–2:21 Paul Defends His Honor (Form: Encomium)
    IV. Gal 3:1–6:10 Paul Defends His Gospel (Form: Public Argument)
    V. Gal 6:11-18 Conclusion

    I. Rom 1:1-7 Letter Opening (Superscription)
    II. Rom 1:8-10 Letter Thanksgiving
    III. Rom 1:11-17 Introduction and Travel Plans
    IV. Rom 1:18-32 They and the Ten Commandments
    V. Rom 2:1-16 You Judeans and Judging Hellenists
    VI. Rom 2:17–3:20 Israelites
    VII. Rom 3:21–8:39 The Present Time: Now
    VIII. Rom 9:1–11:36 Recalcitrant Israel
    IX. Rom 12:1–13:14 You: Jesus-Group Values
    X. Rom 14:1–15:13 They (the Weak) and the Torah Commandments
    XI. Rom 15:15-32 Conclusion and Travel Plans
    XII. Rom 15:33 Letter Ending
    XIII. Rom 16:1-29 Appendix: Letter of Recommendation for Phoebe and Doxology

    I. Phil 1:1-11 Superscription
    II. Phil 1:12–2:15 Body A: Paul's Prison Circumstances and Its Significance for the Philippians
    III. Phil 2:16–3:21 Body B: Ingroup and Outgroup Relations
    IV. Phil 4:1–23 Concluding Remarks

    I. Phlm 1-3 Superscription
    II. Phlm 4-7 Thanksgiving: The Exordium
    III. Phlm 8-16 Body of the Letter Part A: Perobatio
    IV. Phlm 17-22 Body of the Letter Part B: Peroratio
    V. Phlm 23-25 Conclusion

    Reading Scenarios for the (Authentic) Letters of Paul
    List of Reading Scenarios