Friday, October 17, 2008

Two New Monographs on Aspects of Pauline Leadership

I recently reviewed two new monographs on aspects of Pauline Leadership for Religious Studies Review. They are both worthwhile reads and go along way to providing a base for our continued quest to Biblically redefine Christian Leadership. Here are two short excerpts from my reviews:

Paul and Conflict Resolution: An Exegetical Study of Paul's Apostolic Paradigm in 1 Corinthians 9. By Robinson Butarbutar. Paternoster Biblical Monographs. Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, 2007. Pp. xviii + 275. Paper, $33.99, ISBN 978-1-84227-315-9.

Little scholarly attention has been given to conflict resolution models used in First-Century Mediterranean Christian communities. Butarbutar’s monograph bridges this gap in the literature and provides an erudite foundational work on this topic by examining Paul's apostolic paradigm in 1 Corinthians 9 through a detailed literary and historical exegesis of this pericope. This study defines and locates the argumentative rhetoric of Paul in the larger scope of Paul's unified arguments in 1 Corinthians 8-10, that sought to mediate in the cultural disputes in the Corinthian Christian communities. Butarbutar demonstrates that the conflict resolution model evident in this text is further evident in Paul's rhetoric of refusing to accept financial support from his audience. The monographs concludes by comparing and contrasting this Pauline conflict resolution model with contemporary approaches in Christian communities and argues for the serious reconsideration of Paul’s approach to conflict.

Saint Paul as Spiritual Director: An Analysis of the Concept of the Imitation of Paul with Implications and Applications to the Practice of Spiritual Direction. By Victor A. Copan. Paternoster Biblical Monographs. Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, 2007. Pp. 342. Paper, $40.00, ISBN 978-1-55635-661-2.

Recent scholarly and popular-press descriptions of spiritual direction have widely disagreed on the nature, theories and applications of this age-old ministry of spiritual formation. It has been become evident to scholars and practitioners alike that a return to a serious re-examination of the Biblical roots of spiritual direction is what is needed. Cohan’s well-written and critical monograph seeks to provide a first step in a contemporary re-evaluation of the Apostle Paul’s approach to spiritual direction and formation. This study uses a case study approach exploring the social, cultural and spiritual functions of Paul as spiritual director in the various Christian communities that he founded along the Mediterranean Sea. Emphasis is placed in this study on Paul’s understanding, aims and praxis of spiritually forming his follower. Cohan concludes by drawing parallels to contemporary approaches of spiritual direction.