Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul by Lars Kierspel

Official Description:

Paul’s letters have fascinated and challenged most every reader of the Bible. As a result, many general introductions and specific studies on Paul are available, but none are like Charts on the Life and Letters of Paul, which provides over 100 charts to explore the apostle’s background, life and ministry, letters, and theology. The charts visually offer clarity on:

  1. Basic insights (e.g., “Autobiographical Information”)
  2. Comparisons (e.g., “Parallels between Acts and Paul’s Letters”)
  3. Advanced tools for further study (e.g., “Key Words in Romans”)
  4. Analysis (e.g., “The ‘New Perspective’ on Paul”)
  5. Research (e.g., “Key Texts and Their Interpretations”)

Comments on the charts and discussions of significant theories-with leads for further exploration-are offered together with an extensive bibliography that includes references to past and current Pauline scholarship.

Interested Bible readers as well as students of Paul’s life, letters, and theology will find plenty of material to deepen their understanding. Teachers will find the charts to be a valuable teaching resource. This book is an excellent supplement to any general introduction or specific study on Paul.

Publication Information:

Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul. By Lars Kierspel Grand Rapids, MI.: Kregel Publications, 2012. 288 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8254-2936-1. $26.99.

Endorsements:

“Lars Kierspel has taken charting to a whole new level. This book provides an incredible number of charts-often quite detailed-on virtually every dimension of Paul imaginable… Kierspel has provided a whole new level of information in various other charts on theology, comparisons of Paul to others, and a variety of contextual matters.”

Stanley Porter, President & Dean, Professor of New Testament. McMaster Divinity College.

“His [Kierspel] work can be a useful tool for those who are trying to sort out both the biblical data and current questions.”

Mark Seifrid, The Mildred and Ernest Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This is a single resource for the data I have commonly distributed to students.”

E. Randolph Richards, Professor of Biblical Studies, Palm Beach Atlantic University

About the Author: Lars Kierspel (born 1972 in Germany) received his M.Div. at the Freie Theologische Hochschule (1998 in Giessen), his Th.M. at the Covenant Theological Seminary (2001 in St. Louis) and his Ph.D. at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (2006 in Louisville). His dissertation about “the Jews” in the Gospel of John was published by Mohr Siebeck. He currently teaches at Shiloh University in Iowa. His research interests include Gospel narratives, Luke-Acts, and Pauline literature.

 

Summary:

Taken as a whole, Kierspel’s work can be broken into four sections. Each section contains a number of charts depicting the information at hand. The four main sections are as follows:

A. PAUL’S BACKGROUND & CONTEXT

B. PAUL’S LIFE AND MINISTRY

C. PAUL’S LETTERS

D. PAUL’S THEOLOGICAL CONCEPTS

As the title of the book and the layout of the four sections note, this is a text that organizes the many pieces of information that surround Paul’s life, letters and theology.

Section A, Paul’s Background and Context, includes historical and biblical details. Who reigned before and during Paul’s life and ministry? What religion and politics encircled Paul? What Greco-Roman or Jewish influences had an impact on Paul’s ministry? These questions and many more are answered by the charts found in Section A.

Section B looks specifically at the man of the hour, Paul himself. What was Paul’s life like? How does Acts line up with what Paul says throughout his letts about his ministry? This section provides an easy to understand (and easy to teach) breakdown of the chronology of Paul and the missionary journeys of Paul.

The third segment of Kierspel’s book, or the section on “Paul’s Letters,” is a powerhouse of information. I honestly cannot imagine the number of hours that Kierspel put into this section. From manuscript resources to OT quotations and allusions, a multitude of details are organized and easily interpreted. Also, what I believe may be the most applicable piece to this entire compilation of Pauline charts, Kierspel has provided us with what he calls “SNAPSHOTS” of each of Paul’s letters (and, yes, there is a chart on page 80 seeking to provide an answer to those who wonder whether or not Paul was actually the author of a letter).

 

The last for the four sections, and the most important of sections for students interested in theology, is dedicated to Paul’s Theological Concepts. Are you curious as to what Paul thought concerning idolatry or are you looking for a collocated arrangement of Paul’s opinions on vices? This section also systemizes theological ideas, such as Paul’s statements on soteriology, gifts of the Spirit or the millenium (i.e., where does Paul mention the “already-not-yet” millenium?).

** Having spent so much time in Paul’s writings, it would be hard to sum up everything that needs said in the charts. Therefore, at the back of the book, Kierspel also adds additional comments/thoughts/notes for each of his charts.

 

Evaluation:

This is the second of the KREGEL CHARTS OF THE BIBLE SERIES that I have had the opportunity to review (the first was Bateman’s compilation on Hebrews, found here). The series, as a whole, has a lot to offer biblical scholars and theologians (some other topics include Charts on the Book of Revelation, Systematic Theology, and Open Theism/Orthodoxy). That said, this title does does fits right into the series. This title is not an easy read for people who have not been introduced to the many layers of Pauline theology. I would suggest this title most prominently for teachers/professors who are looking to present portions of Paul’s life and theology to others.

The lists are exhaustive and very well researched. In the time that I spent with Kierspel’s work, I did not come across any errors and, refreshingly, the book is more a display of texts and opinions rather than a one-sided argument for a particular stance on Pauline theology. I highly recommend this text for whoever desires to dig deep into the world of Paul’s writings (and how Paul’s transcripts link beyond Pauline letters).

**This book was provided free from Kregel Publications with my promise to post an unbiased review.