My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Review: Paul and Time: Life in the Temporality of Christ

Paul and Time: Life in the Temporality of Christ Paul and Time: Life in the Temporality of Christ by L. Ann Jervis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This work opens with a lengthy introduction that gives us a foundation with which to start thinking about time. This is important, because most of us don’t really think too deeply about time … it is simply something that passes in which events happen whereby those events become fixed or permanent. We approach eternity much like to approach infinity in mathematics, by adding more to the dimension we call time (in either direction). Classical though where eternity is outside of temporality and is unchanging and unmoving (Plato). Next up is a survey and comparison of current (and perhaps competing) viewpoints that government interpretation through an historical/salvific or an apocalyptic lens. I found the idea that the apocalyptic interpretation sees the eternal God “invading” history (time) to be an interesting perspective. Chapter three (3) introduces the idea that there is an overlap between the current (and dying) age and the age to come … an idea that I had not previously found in my current studies, but is none the less a good talking point for evaluating how early Christians responded to the fact that believers were dying before the second coming of Christ … and which the author specifically rejects. It is in chapter four (4) that we finally see the paradigm shift that the author wants us to consider, breaking time in the “death-time” and “life-time” with the rest of the book dedicated to explaining what that even means.

The rest of the book is a bit tricky and can be hard to understand, which is why so much effort went into the previous chapters to enable the reader to at least grasp the basics. While I think I understood the concept, I still struggled a little with understanding how this all changed or otherwise impacted how the salvation offered by Christ works … leaving me with an over all feeling that this was more of an academic exercise. It was very interesting, but I will need to think on it a lot more before I have a good handle on it.

The chapters and sections in this work are:

Introduction: Thinking About Time

1. Paul’s Conception of Time in Salvation Historical Perspective
2. Paul’s Conception of Time in Apocalyptic Perspective
3. Time in Christ - Not in the Overlap of Ages
4. Christ Lives Time
5. The Nature of the Exalted Christ’s Time
6. The Future of the Exalted Christ’s Time
7. Union with Christ and Time
8. Life in Christ’s Time: Suffering, Physical Death, and Sin

Name Index
Scripture and Ancient Writings Index

Some of the other points that really got my attention are:
Interestingly, despite their differences, both salvation historical and apocalyptic readings rely on a common conviction that Paul inherited a two-age framework, which he had to modify in order to make sense of the fact that Christ was resurrected but the faithful were not. Paul fit Christ’s resurrection into his inherited schema by reworking his inherited framework: the two ages are not sequential but rather, because of Christ, now overlap.
Augustine articulates this experience: “There are three times, a present of past things, a present of present things, and a present of future things. Some such different times do exist in the mind, but nowhere else that I can see. The present of past things is the memory; the present of present things is direct perception; and the present of future things is expectation.”
Time that ends has a different quality from time that does not. Time that ends is shaped by its end; time that does not end is shaped by the abundance of ongoingness, which for Paul is the abundance of life. This is not only everlasting duration but everlasting life. Seeking to resonate with Paul, I call the former type of time “death-time” and the latter “life-time.”
Union with Christ means direct access to moments in Christ’s incarnated past: Christ’s death and burial. This is the case not because believers travel to Christ’s past but because Christ’s past is present and can be known in human present tenses.
Admittedly, those joined to Christ do not yet have glorious bodies like Christ’s. This is, however, of no moment to Paul, for that will come (1 Cor. 15:16–19). Believers can know that they are now free of the power of Death (e.g., 2 Cor. 4:10–5:5). Their physical deaths are simply doors to a fuller experience of resurrection life.
Believers suffer, as does the exalted Christ in whom they live, not because they remain partially subject to the present age but because from a situation of liberty they groan along with the unliberated. Believers share Christ’s suffering; like Christ, their suffering is embraced by, even defined by, resurrection and exaltation.
Paul did not think in terms of “already–not yet,” if that moniker signals that believers remain enslaved to Death.544 Paul believes that those united with Christ are, like Christ, now liberated from Death. Those who belong to Christ live life-time in mortal bodies;
Union with Christ is freedom from Sin, but it does not obliterate the capacity for sinning.567 Sin can be compared to a colonizing power, which distorts and disfigures the character and appetites of those it oppresses. In a post-colonial context, when the colonizing power is defeated, the previously enslaved find it challenging to fully claim their free identity
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#PaulAndTime #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.