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What Paul Meant
Garry Wills

9780143112631 Retail Price: $14.00
CenturyOne Price: $9.80
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Format: Paperback, 208pp.
ISBN: 9780143112631
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pub. Date: September 25, 2007

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All through history, Christians have debated Paul’s influence on the church. Though revered, Paul has also been a stone on which many stumble. Apocryphal writings by Peter and James charge Paul, in the second century, with being a tool of Satan.

In later centuries Paul became a target of ridicule for writers such as Thomas Jefferson ("the first corruptor"), George Bernard Shaw ("a monstrous imposition"), and Nietzsche ("the Dysangelist"). However, as Garry Wills argues eloquently in this masterly analysis, what Paul meant was not something contrary to what Jesus meant. Rather, the best way to know Jesus is to discover Paul.

Unlike the Gospel writers, who carefully shaped their narratives many decades after Jesus’ life, Paul wrote in the heat of the moment, managing controversy, and sometimes contradicting himself, but at the same time offering the best reflection of those early times.

What Paul Meant is a stellar interpretation of Paul’s writing, examining his tremendous influence on the first explosion of Christian belief and chronicling the controversy surrounding Paul through the centuries. Wills’s many readers and those interested in the Christian tradition will warmly welcome this penetrating discussion of perhaps the most fascinating church father.


“A vital study of the earliest voice in the New Testament.”
—Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek

“[A] bracing book of spiritual commentary [by] one of this country’s leading public intellectuals and American Catholicism’s most formidable lay scholar.”
—Los Angeles Times

“The best description of how the Jesus movement emerged.”
—Andrew M. Greeley, author of The Catholic Revolution

“A string of arresting insights and original formulations . . . a tour-de-force revision of what we thought we knew about the apostle who helped give the Christian faith its distinctive shape.”


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About the Author

Garry Wills is the author of the New York Times bestsellers What Jesus Meant, Why I Am a Catholic, and Papal Sin and received a Pulitzer Prize for Lincoln at Gettysburg. He is currently professor of history emeritus at Northwestern University.

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