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David Brondos: Paul on the Cross


Two advantages of Brondos’ discussion stick out as especially helpful: his overview of competing theories of atonement accomplishes something that few works on Paul do (much less do well), and his critique of the participationist understanding of Paul’s language is incisive. Indeed, the latter may well give this book a certain staying power within Pauline scholarship. Yet, it needs to be said that some of Brondos’ complaints against participationism are unfair—e.g., he writes, “to say that Paul believed that people of other times and places participate (or participated) in Christ, or in his death and resurrection, is to affirm that either for Paul or those before him, Jesus Christ had been dissolved into some kind of impersonal power or corporate entity into which others could enter” (p. 164). I fail to see how a participationist view implies this “impersonal” christology, but I fear that the expression is rhetorically loaded in such a way that it will convince some readers. Participationism is not nearly as problematic (or un-Jewish) as Brondos would have us believe.

This is a tedious book—to get the most out of it, one must read it slowly—but it is a book that serious students of Paul will want to engage.

Reviewed by John Poirier


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Category: In Depth, Summer 2009

About the Author: John C. Poirier, Th.M. (Duke Divinity), D.H.L. (Jewish Theological Seminary), is an independent scholar who has published numerous articles on a wide range of topics. He is the author of The Invention of the Inspired Text: Philological Windows on the Theopneustia of Scripture (2021).

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