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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Holy Spirit and Ethics in Paul: Transformation and Empowering for Religious-Ethical Life
Rabens, Volker

Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013 pp. xx + 378. Volume 283Second, Revised Edition. $126.00

Series Information
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe
Edited by Jörge Frey

Description: Volker Rabens answers the question of how, according to the apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit enables religious-ethical life. In the first part of the book, the author discusses the established view that the Spirit is a material substance which transforms people ontologically by virtue of its physical nature. In order to assess this "Stoic" reading of Paul, the author examines all the passages from the Hebrew Bible, early Judaism, Hellenism and Paul that have been put forward in support of this concept of ethical enabling. He concludes that there is no textual evidence in early Judaism or Paul that the Spirit was conceived as a material substance. Furthermore, none of these or any of the Graeco-Roman writings show that ethical living derives from the transformation of the "substance" of the person that is imbued with a physical Spirit. The second part of the study offers a fresh approach to the ethical work of the Spirit which is based on a relational concept of Paul's theology. Rabens argues that it is primarily through initiating and sustaining an intimate relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and with the community of faith that the Spirit transforms and empowers people for ethical living. The author establishes this thesis on the basis of an exegetical study of a variety of passages from the Pauline corpus. In addition, he demonstrates that Paul lived in a context in which this dynamic of ethical empowering was part of the religious framework of various Jewish groups.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Pauline Epistles, Literature, Methods, Theological Approaches

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Review by Nélida Naveros Cordova
Published 11/11/2014
Citation: Nélida Naveros Cordova, review of Volker Rabens, The Holy Spirit and Ethics in Paul: Transformation and Empowering for Religious-Ethical Life, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2014).


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