Julien C. H. Smith – Paul and the Good Life

Episode: What happens when Dallas Willard, Wendell Berry, and James K. A. Smith walk into a bar to discuss Paul and the Good Life? Join Julien C. H. Smith and co-host Matt Bates as they explore the social and political world of Scripture, with a special eye for how Paul’s vision of ideal kingship shaped his ideas about the gospel and salvation.

The Book: Julien C. H. Smith, Paul and the Good Life: Transformation and Citizenship in the Commonwealth of God (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2020). Salvation and human flourishing—a life marked by fulfillment and well-being—have often been divorced in the thinking and practice of the church. For the apostle Paul, however, the two were inseparable in the vision for the good life. Drawing on the revolutionary teachings and kingdom proclamation of Jesus, Paul and the early church issued a challenge to the ancient world’s dominant narratives of flourishing. Paul’s conviction of Jesus’ universal Lordship emboldened him to imagine not just another world, but this world as it might be when transformed. Ultimately, Paul and the Good Life invites us to imagine how citizens of this heavenly commonwealth might live in the in-between time, in which Jesus’s reign has been inaugurated but not consummated. (Publisher’s description, abridged).

US Orders (valid for as long as the deal happens to last): use code 17PGL at baylorpress.com receive 20% off + free shipping.

Guest: Julien C. H. Smith’s scholarly interests center on Biblical texts and traditions. He received his BA from the University of California at Berkeley in French and Slavic Languages and Literature, an MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a PhD in Religion from Baylor University. He has written on a variety of New Testament and apocryphal subjects, including Ephesians, Acts, and the Epistle of Barnabas. His first book, Christ the Ideal King: Cultural Context, Rhetorical Strategy, and the Power of Divine Monarchy in Ephesians, was published in 2011. Recent publications include “You are my witnesses: Walker Percy, Jacques Maritain, and the Jews,” in Religion and Literature, and “The Epistle of Barnabas and the Two Ways of Teaching Authority,” in Vigiliae Christianae. Smith teaches “Christian Tradition, ”seminars on Jesus, Paul, Theology & Ecology, and in the First-Year Program.

OnScript’s Review (back cover endorsement): Headwaters are elusive. So, essential streams are navigated separately: the gospel, spiritual practices, politics, church life, philosophy. But in this exciting and important study, Julien Smith goes farther back and deeper in. He shows that the gospel invites us not merely to trust a savior, but to give allegiance to the ideal king for the sake of human flourishing. The separate streams are joined to the headwaters and mapped afresh. — Matthew W. Bates, author of Salvation by Allegiance Alone; associate professor of theology, Quincy University

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