Readers who want to explore the issues Gager raises will be well advised to turn to his sources—and, of course, to Paul.

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REINVENTING PAUL

In this lucid overview of recent scholarship on the theology of the Apostle to the Gentiles, Princeton theologian Gager (The Origins of Anti-Semitism, 1983) challenges the received view of Paul as a convert from Judaism to Christianity who rejected the law of Moses and taught that God was replacing the people of Israel with a new Israel, the Christian church.

Gager sees the traditional view as resting on a failure to locate Paul within rather than against the Judaism of his time (a Judaism anachronistically caricatured by later Christian commentators), on an inability to identify the intended hearers of Paul's message and the rhetorical strategies he used to persuade them, and on a tendency to illegitimately universalize the particular polemical contexts in which Paul wrote. The result was a series of fundamental misunderstandings of Paul and his gospel. A chapter on “New Views of Paul” surveys challenges to the traditional view from scholars like Krister Stendahl and E.P. Sanders (who made important contributions to viewing Paul within the context of first-century Judaism), and Lloyd Gaston and Stanley Stowers (whose work on Paul, the Torah, and the letter to the Romans are fundamental to Gager’s argument). Gager concludes that the traditional wisdom about Paul is completely wrong: Paul’s mission was only to the Gentiles, and his polemic against the Jewish law was directed at those in the Jesus movement who demanded that Gentiles be circumcised. Paul believed that Jews remained the people of God, in Gager’s view, and although the calling of the Gentiles through Jesus was to play a role in the (imminent) salvation of Israel, belief in Jesus was not necessary for Jews. Gager puts these “new views” to work in detailed examinations of the letters to the Galatians and the Romans. Gager is attempting a very great deal in a very short space; as a result, assertions and quotations from other scholars (particularly Gaston and Stowers) sometimes take the place of arguments, and some serious exegetical difficulties (particularly in the discussion of Romans) are elided.

Readers who want to explore the issues Gager raises will be well advised to turn to his sources—and, of course, to Paul.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-19-513474-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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