The Spirituality of Paul (Book Review)

Leslie Hardin’s The Spirituality of Paul is in a sense a follow up to his book The Spirituality of Jesus.  The book deals with spiritual formation and the work of the Spirit in making believers more like Christ. This discipleship of the Spirit is unpacked from Paul’s writings and experiences in the New Testament.

Hardin deals with the following topics in the book;

  1. Practice of the Spirit
  2. Devotion to Scripture
  3. Prayer
  4.  Disciple-Making
  5. Proclaiming the Gospel
  6. Corporate Worship
  7. Holiness
  8. Spiritual Gifts
  9. Building One Another Up in the Faith
  10. Suffering
  11. Pauline Spirituality

Each topic/chapter is dealt with from the perspective of Paul. Hardin unpacks the writing and routines of Paul as they relate to the various topics above.

Hardin is blunt and honest in his grappling of these issues as he states “Paul frustrates me” and “often seems to contradict himself” (11). The first chapter expands on this frustration as Hardin wrestles with what “spiritual” means. He views “biblical spirituality as a practical partnership with the Spirit who is already at work (17) and aims to unpack this from the record and writings of Paul in the New Testament.

One aspect of the book I really appreciated was Hardin’s emphasis on saturating yourself with the Scripture. Hardin mentions that in Romans 9-11 alone Paul alludes to over 100 Scripture passages in the Old Testament. This illustrates his point that Paul was so steeped in the Scriptures that he oozed it. He didn’t need to necessarily quote a verse to support some point, his point flowed from his Scripture saturated and Spirit filled life. Hardin lays out the phases of Scripture saturation that occur as disciples immerse themselves in the Word.

  1. Thinking about Scripture
  2. Thinking with Scripture
  3. Thinking from Scripture

At this third stage, Thinking from Scripture, we begin to s”ee all of life through the lens of Scripture” (40).

In the same chapter on Scripture, Hardin interacts with N.T. Wright and the New Perspectives on Paul movement in his discussion of “works and law”. Hardin, with Wright, argue that Paul was referring to a “Jewish-style-holiness works” and with Wright, specifically  referring to an “ethnic identity” (37).

Hardin continues his though provoking analysis of Paul on the aforementioned topics throughout the book. Here are just a couple of my other takeaways.

  1. Though a great man of prayer (he’s praying during conversion in Acts 9:11), saying more on the topic than just about any other topic, there are actually no prayers of Paul’s recorded in Scripture. Though he prayed a lot, there is little evidence of him praying for temporal, daily comforts (Although he did pray to be relieved of the “thorn in his flesh” whatever that was.).
  2. Paul’s modus operandi for training (disciple-making) was time on task (59).
  3. For Paul evangelism was about making disciples, not just winning converts. Paul’s modus operandi was to stay in one place long enough (if possible) to convey the teaching of the Christian faith and lifestyle, not just proclaim the death of Jesus and move on (87).
  4. Regarding holiness, Hardin notes, God took the initiative. We’ve been made holy, worked over from the inside out in ways that we could never accomplish on our own. Our response to God’s initiative is a life of holiness in gratitude (109).
  5. Of course there is much good material in the rest of the book as well including, thoughts on unity in the congregation, spiritual gifts and suffering.

In all Hardin’s book is a good read, a welcome additional to my library on spiritual formation and has several good gems in each chapter.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Books N More (April 4)

Catch The Gospel Coalition (TGC) live today through the end of the conference here. In conjunction with the conference check out the Zondervan ebook sale until April 9th here. Books are up to 70% or more off.

The new monthly deals are out – here’s some of them.

Fortress Press ebook Sale with 800 books under $5. Includes N.T. Wright, Bonhoeffer, Brueggemann, Walter Wink, etc. Go here.

Logos March Madness sale with up to 70% off Doulas Moo’s works here.

WORDsearch Buy 1 Get 1 Sale continues until April 10th and has added 10 more options.

Tim Challies blog has several more kindle sales listed here.

A note on ebooks and platforms:

  • Purchase based on how you use the books. If you just “read” then kindle editions are probably the best bet for most items. If you research or purchase books with lots of footnotes the best bet is probably not kindle. I find myself regularly in the dilemma of which format to purchase. For instance, currently The Practice of Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann is on sale in kindle for $4.99 while Logos has it as part of their March Madness for $11.99.
  • I’ve purchased enough books in kindle to realize that study bibles or commentaries with lots of footnotes (I actually read the footnotes) are not much fun to use in kindle. This has caused me to decide to mostly not buy commentaries or study bibles in kindle (though I’ve already purchased many!). Instead I wait until they are on sale or purchase them in a package deal with Logos. This makes my study time much more enjoyable. Brueggemann’s book on the other hand is probably just a “reading” book and thus is probably fine in kindle.
  • Just my thoughts – hope that helps some.
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Books N More (Mar. 14)

WORDsearch

  • BOGO sale through March 31. This is one of the best times to pick up resources, especially with the opportunity for TWO additional discounts.
    • Before purchasing the book deals go buy $200 gift cards for $100 – that’s another $20 in savings but these must be purchased by Mar. 16 so go here and get them now.
    • Discount #2 will save you another 15% off the BOGO sale price. To get this extra 15% email or call your order to ryan.roberts@lifeway.com (800-825-2648 x7145)
    • Now with an extra $20 and an extra 15% go browse the 50 BOGO packages that include
      • Preachers outline & Sermon Bible (44 vols)
      • New American Commentary (42 vols)
      • New International Greek Testament Commentary (13 vols)
      • College Press OT/NT Commentary ()
      • Ancient Christian Commentary on Scriptures (30 vols)
      • Focus on the Bible Commentary (42 vols)
      • Preaching the Word Commentary (40 vols)
      • and lots more from $50 to $500

Logos

  • For a limited time the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (old edition) is on sale for $129.95. Although this set has since been updated, this 12 volume set has been a standard evangelical set and is still a recommended buy. Since it’s a Zondervan title the only good time to buy it is when it’s on sale – Zondervan is quite picky with what can be on sale and for how long!

Olive Tree

  • Olive Tree was purchased by Zondervan a couple years ago and I hadn’t thought much about it because I already use Logos, Bibleworks, WORDsearch, The Word, etc. However, I did notice today that they have several good works by Paul Copan for 99 cents today as well as Understanding the Times as a Daily Deal for just $2.99. I checked Logos and Kindle and they were not available at those prices. Here’s a list of some of the titles.
  • You can browse their other sale items here. The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary Series is also supposed to be 50% off through the 16th I think (according to Zondervan Academic FB post) but I didn’t see that they were actually on sale.

2 FREE from Monergism

  • Improvement of Affliction by James Buchanan-in ePub & .mobi formats – New eBook  “We have not read any work on the subject which equals it either in the substantial matter which it brings before the afflicted for their consolation, or in the variety of its details. Were we desirous, indeed, that Affliction should be properly understood and improved — we could not recommend any book so well adapted for both purposes as this. We earnestly hope that it will soon find its way into every Christian family.” Scottish Guardian.
  • Historical Theology by William Cunningham- in ePub and .mobi formats William Cunningham’s 2-volume Historical Theology, derived from his lectures given at New College in Edinburgh from 1847–1861, tells the story of the church through the history of its theology. From a decidedly biblical/Reformed perspective he chronicles the theological tension between law and grace, between sin and forgiveness, and between Christ’s first coming and his second.

Kindle

If you made it this far pick up the free song of the week at www.weareworship.com

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Books N More (March 3)

Logos

  • FREE Book of the Month: TheRisen Existence-The Spirit of Easter
  •  Monthly Sale
  • March Madness voting (the results of the voting result in 75% off that authors books)

Verbum

Vyrso

WORDserach

  • FREE Friday Book (You’re better off waiting until Saturday to pick this up as the site is often not updated on time; however, the book stays available until the next week).
  • $120 gift cards for $100 – when added to sale prices (plus up to 30% off sale prices if you call a sales rep, this will save you $$)

Zondervan

Kindle Deals

Archaeology News

  • Check out ASOR‘s site and get FREE copies of two books on archaeology and the ancient Near East
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Books N More (Feb. 28)

It’s the end of the month and new deals are just a hours away but don’t miss these deals….last chance

Logos:

  • Get $25 worth of FREE product in honor of their 25th anniversary.  This ends March 1st so use it today. Code is 25YEAR
  • Get Logos 7 Basic for FREE. This is the latest software with a couple dozen included books.
  • For more FREE books from Logos visit their sales page here.
  • You can also browse their sister site Vyrso here. All books purchased from Vyrso work in Logos too.
    • FREE currently is the Wiersbe Bible Study Guide on Genesis 1-11
    • There are about 120+ FREE titles, though many of them may not be of much interest.

WORDsearch bible software has for FREE (a $14.95 value) Principle Preaching: How to Create and Deliver Sermons For Life Applications by John Bisagno here. This expires Friday and is replaced with a new FREE title each Friday so check back weekly.

Dallas Theological Seminary is offering a free course, “Can You Trust the Bible?” Sign up here. You will receive a weekly email with content links.

On Kindle currently are the following deals:

  • 365 FREE titles listed at Monergism here
  • Tim Challies list here
  • Thrifty Christian list here

 

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Books N More (Feb 22)

Just a few items for today.

Logos: Get $25 in FREE resources in celebration of their 25 anniversary. Just shop online and use code 25YEAR. Code can only be used once per account. Their monthly sale is here or you can change the “sort” feature to pricing (low to high), percent off, etc. Get your FREE $25 in books today. The monthly sale is only good for another week so check it out too.

We Are Worship: FREE Song of the week (requires free account).

New Movie: Is Genesis History will be showing for one day only in several local theater’s. View the trailer here or check out more info about this project by the creators of The Truth Project.

 

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Study the Bible with Sefaria

Studying the Old Testament (OT) can be a great challenge. The new app/website Sefaria provides an insane number of very quick connections (if only Logos Bible software was this quick, lol).

Sefaria: This awesome website (and app) visualizes the connections  between the Hebrew Bible (TaNaKh, Old Testament) and 3,000 years of Jewish writings (Mishna, Talmud, Gamara, Tosefta, etc.). There are more than 30,000 connections just with the Talmud.

What can  you do with this?

Some preliminary uses might be:

  • Learning/Reading the Hebrew (with or without English side by side)
  • Researching Jewish though on the Old Testament
  • Researching/Reading Jewish thoughts on Philosophy and other topics

Before we check this out it will be helpful to know what we are looking at. The Jews wrote many types of commentaries on the Hebrew Bible (OT). In simplistic terms you can think of them along the following lines (see this chart).

  1. Hebrew Bible written (called TaNaKH)
  2. Oral Law (tradition) written – called Mishnah
  3. Commentary on the Mishhan called Talmud
    1. Babylonian Talmud completed around 500 AD
    2. Palestinian Talmud completed around 400 AD
  4. Midrash are explanations of the Law (Halakhic) and Commentary (Haggaidic)
  5. Targums are Aramaic translations with commentary
  6. Kabalah is mystical/spiritualized writings
  7. Grammatica deal with numbers in Scripture

Now let’s try it out!

Let’s say you want to know what early Jewish commentators thought of Genesis 1.

First, you can view the Hebrew and English together, in three different ways (side by side – left or right justified and interspersed by line) by clicking on the “A” in the upper right corner.

Clicking on Genesis 1 will then bring up a list of “connections” with various commentaries, etc. including listing how many connections each source has. By clicking on Bemidbar Rabbah (Midrash: commentary from after Jesus’ time) we find that (although this might not be what you were looking for) Rabbi’s had determined that 70 (picking up from Numbers 7:13) was connected to the idea from Genesis that there were two things not cursed until 70 verses had been written about them – the snake and Haman.This might lead you down a whole rabbit trail on the topic of 70 ….like clicking on the Genesis 50:3 passage in the comments referring to Egyptians mourning for Joseph for 70 days (this brings up a third column of biblical text and when you click on the verse (Genesis 50:3) the various comments available show up again (in a fourth window). By clicking on Rashi we learn that Rashi held that the Egyptians wept so long because they recognized their blessings derived from Joseph. This gives a further link to the Midrash but it is in Hebrew only (as are many of the resources) so we’ll leave it alone!

You can close out some of the windows by clicking on the “x” or back arrow (top right corner of window).

If we go back to our “connections” options and this time pick Targum Jonathan on Genesis we see how Genesis 1:1 was translated in Aramaic

“At the beginning (min avella) the Lord created the heavens and the earth.”

Clicking on the Targum Jerusalem we find “In wisdom (be-hukema) the Lord created. demonstrating the connection between God’s creative acts and wisdom. This concept is further developed in Proverbs 8 and the Wisdom Literature of the Bible.

Going to the Mishan Taanit 4:3 we find that on Sunday’s the portion of Scripture beginnign with Genesis 1:1 was read standing up.

So what does all this mean?

Well, don’t expect to find traditional American commentary information from this process but you should be richly enlightened from various Jewish philosophical, cultural and biblical writings.

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