During the last century many attempts were made to locate the sources of Paul's ethical teaching. Scholar's, recognizing that although Paul's ethics were counter-cultural, they also came to realize that neither was his instruction unique. These events spurred the quest for a source with some scholars concluding that no organizing principle for Paul's ethic existed and that Paul was, to be anachronistic, a situational ethicist who provided guidance and even commands but that his thinking was based on no coherent system of morality. Still others have put forth the thesis that Paul simply sampled his ethical principles from Greek philosophers, especially those interested in virtue.
In Moral Formation According to Paul: the Context and Coherence of Pauline Ethics NT scholar James Thompson argues against both the relativist claims and the pagan context of Paul's ethics and seek to root Paul's moral stipulations within the context of Hellenistic Judaism and to understand them as derived from the Hebrew Scriptures. Furthermore, ho does so while also reorienting Paul's overall theology for us from the traditional protestant readings locating the center of Paul's theology in matters of soteriology and placing it, rather, firmly in his ethics.
Moral formation is obviously of great concern for the 21st Century church. Here, Thompson helps us navigate Paul's thinking in order to extrapolate firmly rooted principals from the Paulione corpus that will also help guide us in achieving our own moral formation, or as Paul says, "growing up into Christ". Moral Formation According to Paul is an excellent work for students of the New Testament, and a valuable tool for encouraging reflection on our own moral formation.
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