Apostle Paul

His Life and Theology

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase

More Options


Paul's writings are centrally important not only for the establishment of the Christian faith but also for the whole history of Western culture. Senior New Testament scholar Udo Schnelle offers a comprehensive introduction to the life and thought of Paul that combines historical and theological analysis. The work was translated into clear, fluent English from the original German--with additional English-language bibliographical reference materials--by leading American scholar M. Eugene Boring. First released in hardcover to strong acclaim, the book is now available in paperback. It is essential reading for professors, students, clergy, and others with a scholarly interest in Paul.


Part 1: The Course of Paul's Life and the Development of His Thought
1. Prologue: Paul as Challenge and Provocation
2. Sources and Chronology for Paul's Life and Work: Definite and Hypothetical
3. The Pre-Christian Paul: Open-Minded Religious Zealot
4. The Call to Be Apostle to the Gentiles: The New Horizon
5. The Christian Paul: A Volcano Begins to Rumble
6. The Apostolic Council and the Incident at Antioch: The Problems Remain Unresolved
7. Paul's Independent Mission: The Volcano Erupts
8. Paul and the Thessalonians: Consolation and Confidence
9. First Corinthians: High and True Wisdom
10. Second Corinthians: Peace and War
11. Paul and the Galatians: Discovery in Conflict
12. Paul and the Church in Rome: High-Level Encounter
13. Paul in Rome: The Old Man and His Work
Part 2: The Basic Structures of Pauline Thought
14. The Presence of Salvation: The Center of Pauline Theology
15. Theology: The God Who Acts
16. Christology: The Lord Who Is Present
17. Soteriology: The Transfer Has Begun
18. Pneumatology: The Spirit Moves and Works
19. Anthropology: The Struggle for the Self
20. Ethic: The New Being as Meaning Formation
21. Ecclesiology: The Church as a Demanding and Attracting Fellowship
22. Eschatology: Expectation and Memory
23. Epilogue: Pauline Thought as Enduring Meaning Formation


"Among recent studies of Paul's life and thought, Schnelle's deserves to be ranked not only as one of the most comprehensive but also as one of the most compelling. With methodological clarity and exegetical skill, he demonstrates that the apostle's theology has to be understood in relation to his ministry and that this requires an examination of his letters individually, in the light of their respective historical, situational, and cultural contexts. Schnelle's exposition of the basic structures and overarching themes of Paul's theology is the more credible for being so carefully grounded and is an outstanding contribution to the ongoing discussion of this critical topic."

Victor Paul Furnish, University Distinguished Professor of New Testament Emeritus, Southern Methodist University

"Finding the way into the complexities of international research on St. Paul's life, letters, and theology is far from easy. Professor Schnelle's richly documented and well-argued work, now in English, provides a very useful guide. It is to be recommended as indispensable to serious students in seminary, master's, and doctoral programs, not to forget us teachers who need to stay ahead of the best among the next generation."

Hans Dieter Betz, Shailer Mathews Professor Emeritus of New Testament, University of Chicago

The Author

  1. Udo Schnelle

    Udo Schnelle

    Udo Schnelle (DrTheol, University of Göttingen) is professor of New Testament at the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. He is the author of numerous works, including Theology of the New Testament and History and Theology of the New...

    Continue reading about Udo Schnelle


"English-speaking audiences are deeply indebted to Eugene Boring for this translation of Schnelle's comprehensive introduction to the apostle Paul, which is certain to be a standard resource for a generation. . . . The volume is consistently marked by careful attention to the letters themselves as well as to a wide range of other primary texts, and by deep engagement with the vast scholarly literature."

Beverly Gaventa,

Christian Century

"Udo Schnelle has established himself as one of Europe's most accomplished and eloquent biblical interpreters. Much of his work to this point has concentrated on the Johannine literature, but now he turns his exceptional abilities to an interpretation of the Pauline literature. The translation of this massive and comprehensive study of Pauline theology from its original German was done by Eugene Boring, a fine American scholar in his own right, and we own him a debt of gratitude for this labor of love. . . . The clarity and competence of Schnelle's portrayal of Paul make this a most valuable resource."

The Bible Today

"[Schnelle] has produced an amazingly comprehensive book on the apostle, in which he sets the treatment of the seven undisputed letters in the context of Paul's life and ministry, and then sketches thoroughly Paul's theology. I do not know when in recent years a scholar has grappled with the history behind Paul's life and produced as coherent a statement of Paul's thought as it arises out of the circumstances of his ministry. This massive book will no doubt be read primarily by scholars and graduate students and perhaps serve as a textbook or resource for others. Eugene Boring ably translates the book and adapts the bibliographical documentation for English-speaking readers. . . . Schnelle's work represents an important milestone in Pauline studies. It will be a major conversation partner for scholars for a long time to come."--

Charles B. Cousar,


"The clearly stated goal of the book is to present a comprehensive introduction to the life and thought of Paul. Schnelle seeks to analyze carefully Paul's letters and documents, comment on all important positions in Pauline research, and outline his own position on points of controversy. . . . Some of his treatment is as detailed as a brief commentary, and readers will find helpful information in Schnelle's discussion of controversial texts. . . . Readers of this Journal will profit from reading Schnelle's work. They will be grateful for Schnelle's extensive use of primary sources from the Hellenistic world that illuminate Paul's life and theological milieu. They will also appreciate that Schnelle's work argues for a Christology that is significantly higher than is suggested by other contemporary works."

Charles L. Quarles,

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"The translator . . . has greatly enriched the book with an expanded bibliography that includes additional English monographs and articles that supplement Schnelle's extensive list of German publications. . . . Boring's notes greatly enhance the usefulness of this volume and contain a wealth of information. Schnelle in turn has read Boring's translation to check its accuracy, thereby guaranteeing to the reader that the present English work is an accurate rendition of his original German publication. The result of their combined efforts is a magisterial work that will become an essential reference volume for students and scholars alike desiring a convenient book that examines all important primary texts and scholarly positions in Pauline research, particularly English and German. . . . [This study] is quite balanced and thorough in its treatment of all major issues pertaining to Paul's thought. . . . Readers will find a wealth of material in this book, as well as several provocative theses. . . . Schnelle's book, although quite lengthy, is written and translated quite well: it is a pleasure to read. The author and translator have worked well together to produce a work that surpasses the German original; it should be regarded as an entirely new study! Schnelle's book will undoubtedly become a classic in the field. For the size and scope of this volume, its price is quite reasonable. It is an ideal work for both seasoned scholar and novice alike: both will discover plenty to ponder in this massive work. For those interested in the New Testament and early Christian history, Schnelle's book is essential reading."

Kenneth Atkinson,

Review of Biblical Literature

"A comprehensive introduction. . . . Schnelle's work wisely exhibits discipline and restraint, lest innovation and speculation move us too far away from terra firma."

Craig A. Evans,

Biblical Archaeology Review

"[A] crucial [book] on Paul that I ask students . . . to read and that I recommend. . . . Schnelle makes two methodological choices with dramatic consequences for understanding Paul's theology and letters: 1) Paul was in direct dialogue with the Greco-Roman culture of the cities where he preached the gospel and founded churches, and 2) Paul's Christology, ethics, and eschatology developed and changed in relation to the religious and political crises through which he struggled."

David L. Balch,


"A significant contribution to the study of Paul's theology. . . . There is an extensive bibliography as well as four useful indexes. . . . This work on Paul is distinctive because it has a clearly defined hermeneutics of history and interpretation articulated in a helpful prologue. While this study of Paul is similar to many others, approaching the topic from a historical-critical perspective it has a more philosophical and theological finesse. There is a particular emphasis on the development of Paul's thought set against a well-argued chronology. This work also analyses Paul's thought from a more systematic theology angle. But Paul's writings are not forced through this theological grid so as to lose the creative and unsystematic dimension of Paul's thought. The writing and theological analysis is crisp, logical and precise. . . . The work provides an interesting way to access much German Pauline scholarship. It is a pleasure to read and each page holds new insights even for the advanced scholar."

Dennis L. Stamps,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament