You will find not one article on Paul’s theology in this edition, and here’s the reason.

Each year hundreds of books worldwide are published on Paul and his writings. His every word—literally—is put under the microscope of critical study; his every thought, ruminated over by theologians and preached on by pastors. The question facing us as we prepared this issue was this: What can we say about Paul that hasn’t already been said?

What has been said over and over concerns Paul the theologian, the thinker whose teachings are the basis of Christian doctrine. This is the Paul we hear about each Sunday and read about so many books.

But what about Paul the man? What about his times? What about his culture? Thankfully, more and more is being published on this dimension, what historians call social history. So we thought it would be helpful to do an issue that would help set Paul in his times.

So in the edition, you’ll find articles on what it was like to be with Paul in prison, to travel with Paul, to be in the cities he lived in, to read the pagan religious writings he fought, to be with him as he wrote his letters—and on it goes.

Besides consulting the usual array of books and scholars to prepare this issue, editorial coordinator Mary Ann Jeffreys and I hosted the 1995 Christian History Study Tour, “In the Footsteps of Paul.” Guided by professor Walter Elwell and his wife, Barbara, and accompanied by 31 CH readers, we visited sites in Greece, Ephesus, and Rome to get a better feel for Paul’s life and times.

As you can imagine, much, much more could be said about the era, but we’ve tried to give you a taste of the first century Mediterranean world. And that, we trust, will help you understand Paul the theologian that much better.