At the present time there are at least a dozen biblical commentary series in progress.

We are hardly lacking for books on the life and teachings of the Apostle Paul, but when the leading evangelical biblical scholar of our time writes a tome—nearly five hundred pages—on the subject, we must take notice. F. F. Bruce, recently retired from a distinguished career as John Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism at Manchester University in England, has spent more than half a century studying Paul and teaching about him. One happy result is a definitive study of the mission and message of the Apostle to the Gentiles. Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Eerdmans) is the American title of Bruce’s fine work. (The British title, Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit, needed “translating.”) In his characteristically lucid and flowing style, Bruce works his way systematically through the life of Paul, interweaving the major themes of his thought with information on the Hebrew, Greek, and Roman worlds in which he moved. Paul is treated with affection, but not idolatry. He remains a man of his time and circumstances, though he obviously belongs to that “select company who leave their mark on their time, who mold their contemporaries and exert an influence that stretches far into the future.” A strength of Bruce’s exposition is his detailed treatment of each of the letters as a means of exploring Paul’s theology rather than the more frequent custom of looking at what Paul says topic by topic. Often such topics come from systematic theology. Hence they tend to lose contact with the historical circumstances underlying Paul’s teaching and neglect some of the contents of his letters. Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free is a book that will be read ...

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