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By Kathy Ehrensperger / T&T Clark / 2004
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In That We May Be Mutually Encouraged, Kathy Ehrensperger offers a compelling new look at Paul by placing the "New Perspective" approach to Pauline studies in dialogue with feminism theology. This study shows that the interaction and positive relation of different strands of research on Paul –feminist interpretation, Pauline studies, and theologies dealing with the Shoah – actually lead to a fresh view of Paul and his letters. The consequences of such interaction between different strands of research on Paul open the door for significant new avenues of research.
There has been a revolutionary shift of thinking in Pauline Studies, fundamentally changing the image of Paul. Postmodern literary criticism of Paul’s epistles and socio-rhetorical criticism of his letters has created a New Perspective approach to Pauline studies. At the same time, feminist criticism of the Pauline corpus has been growing. Unfortunately there has been hardly any interaction and exchange of research results between these different strands of scholarship. The result of this is that in Pauline studies scholars are hardly aware of feminist perspectives.
Similarly, feminist interpretations of Paul, not fully conversant with the most recent strands of Pauline research, are often based on traditional images of Paul. Ehrensperger’s analysis of feminist commentaries on Paul thus contains a rather negative depiction of theological thinking. However, both strands of research, feminist and those of the New Perspective, provide fresh and illuminating insights that emphasize similar aspects from different perspectives.
Ehrensperger advocates a closer interaction between these two schools of Pauline studies. She analyzes Romans 14–15, exploring the results of recent research in both Pauline schools. Pauline studies from the New Perspective emphasize the Jewish context and texture of Paul’s thinking. She sets these in dialogue with feminist theology, which focuses on issues of identity, diversity, and relationality. Her study results in a perspective on Paul which views him as a significant dialogue partner in the search for a theology beyond anti-Semitism and misogyny, beyond force and domination.
This is a stimulating and thought-provoking book which deserves a wide audience.
—Cristina Grenholm, Professor of Systematic Theology, Karlstad University
To sum it up, Ehrensperger has submitted a very readable book on Paul that conveys a fine survey of current feminist and Pauline research.
—Heike Omerzu, University of Mainz
This monograph provides a clear and critical insight into current streams of Pauline scholarship. In my view it is a helpful introduction, and will benefit in due course from more extensive discussion of the Pauline corpus.
—Andrew D. Clarke
Many discrete advances have been made in feminist biblical studies, in ‘New Perspective’ Pauline studies, and in post-Shoah theology. As Kathy Ehrensperger brings these three fields together, sparks of insight fly. The limitations of each field appear even as new vistas are opened. New possibilities for postmodern Pauline studies are pursued regarding universalism and particularism, mutuality and diversity, feminism and Paul’s theology. We cannot afford to ignore these issues in our study of Paul and more generally in our practice of biblical studies.
—Daniel Patte, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Vanderbilt University
The author must be commended for her ability to embrace large subjects while continually remaining alert to exceptions to the rule. Also, her awareness of the particular character and circumstances of first-century Judaism is remarkable.
—Peter J. Tomson, Professor of New Testament Studies at the Protestant Theological Faculty in Brussels
Paul's theology and feminist theology share something that has often been overlooked: they are perspectives that developed from the margins of an otherwise established ideology. It is from this assumption that the author engages in a dialogue between Pauline studies and feminist theology.
—International Review of Biblical Studies
Kathy Ehrensperger studied theology at the Universities of Basel and Berne, and was a pastor for sixteen years in Switzerland. She is currently a Lecturer in New Testament Studies at the University of Wales, Lampeter.