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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

To Live in the Spirit: Paul and the Spirit of God
Córdova, Nélida Naveros

Lanham, MD: Lexington/Fortress Academic, 2019 pp. xxvi + 207. $100.00

Description: To Live in the Spirit: Paul and the Spirit of God brings to light a fresh understanding of the Greek concept πνεῦμα (spirit) in Paul’s ethical teaching. Placing Paul and his mixed audience within the Hellenistic Jewish and Greek (philosophical) traditions of the ancient world, this book examines his new message concerning πνεῦμα’s primary function in the acquisition of virtues and avoidance of vices. Looking in detail at the various ways in which Paul views πνεῦμα in his seven undisputed letters, Naveros Córdova explores πνεῦμα’s development from Paul’s initial ethical reflections in his early letters to a more mature view in his later letters. Naveros Córdova argues that it is within these traditions, represented by major Hellenistic Jewish and Greco-Roman writers, that Paul construes the framework of his ethical teaching. Paul finds in the power of God’s πνεῦμα a new ethical alternative for his mixed audience to living lives pleasing to God outside the observance of the Mosaic Law. Naveros Córdova demonstrates how Paul draws upon Platonic (immaterial πνεῦμα) and Stoic (material πνεῦμα) language that would have been familiar to his hearers in the early Christian communities to create a persuasive understanding of ethical performance and to show that the moral life of the believers springs from that πνεῦμα received from God. In his efforts to highlight πνεῦμα’s central role in his ethics, Paul moves beyond both traditions by describing the “Christification” of πνεῦμα not only in Stoic terms, but also in Middle Platonic categories of the first century CE.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Pauline Epistles, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Greco-Roman Period, Theological Approaches, Ethics, Theological Interpretation

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Review by Zane McGee
Published 5/28/2020
Citation: Zane McGee, review of Nélida Naveros Córdova, To Live in the Spirit: Paul and the Spirit of God, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2020).

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