In his letters to the early Christian communities, the apostle Paul left for Christians of all time an array of powerful images: from the pain of a thorn in the flesh to the tenderness of a nursing mother for her children, from the competition on an athletic field to the growth of an agricultural field. In The Power of Images in Paul, Raymond Collins explores how Paul uses the ordinary to describe what is extraordinary, how Paul skillfully uses a wide range of metaphors as a means of both persuasion and clarification. But this book is more than an analysis of Paul’s images themselves. Collins also examines how Paul deliberately draws from secular as well as religious and biblical themes in order to draw a culturally diverse audience into relationship with Christ. Entering Paul’s world with Collins, readers will better appreciate Paul’s use of metaphor and, more important, be persuaded as was Paul’s original audience of God’s unfailing love in Christ.
Raymond F. Collins, STD, is the Warren-Blanding Professor of Religion Emeritus and former dean of the School of Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America. He is the author of The Many Faces of the Church: A Study in New Testament Ecclesiology (Crossroad, 2003), I & II Timothy and Titus (Westminster John Knox, 2002), Sexual Ethics and the New Testament: Behavior and Belief (Crossroad, 2000), and First Corinthians in the Sacra Pagina series (Liturgical Press, 1999).
A thorough exploration of the metaphors and other types of images found in Paul's letters. Both Collins' adeptness at exegesis and his respect for the rhetorical abilities of Paul come through in this book. . . . Collins' book will be a useful resource to the teacher, preacher, or student seeking to understand Paul's use of metaphor in general as well as the background, meaning, and rhetorical impact of a particular image found in Paul's letters.
Collins unstops our ears so that we can hear sharply and distinctly in Paul's words the great variety and many rich combinations of instruments he brings together to produce different musical colors and to generate overtones and reverberations. Suddenly the world of Paul's letters is bright, clear, and Technicolor instead of dull and lifeless.
The Power of Images in Paul is a work of sound scholarship that is also accessible to a general audience. An individual or a Bible study group can use it profitably alongside a careful reading of each letter. Those who do so will become more careful readers of Scripture (since Scripture communicates largely through images) and will encounter Paul in new ways. It provides fresh insights to preachers and teachers working through specific Pauline passages and themes. The various images that Collins treats may also provide abundant material for meditation and prayer. For those in search of a reliable and creative resource during this Pauline year, I recommend this volume with great enthusiasm.
Prof. Collins' study of images in the Pauline epistles runs the gamut from metaphors such as olive trees, athletics and the body to the apostle's biblical allusions and kinship terminology. Single chapters are devoted to a careful analysis of individual letters. In the process Collins recovers many images that have been obscured or mistranslated in modern English versions. Therefore this book is an important reference for anyone engaged in translation or exegesis of the Pauline epistles. Collins also highlights the extraordinary creativity found in Paul's use of imagery as the constellation of metaphors changes from one letter to the next. Paul emerges as a talented rhetorician with senses keenly attuned to the world of the Greco-Roman city and the language of the Scriptures. A major contribution to the new literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament.
Pheme Perkins, Department of Theology, Boston College
This book deserves a place on the shelves of those who wish to deepen their appreciation of Paul's place in the history of Christianity.
[P]uts the spotlight on Paul's abundant and diverse use of imagery in this extensive study of the apostle's letters.
The Bible Today