Holy Spirit & Ethics in Paul
Transformation & Empowering for Religious-Ethical Life
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, No. 283


By Volker Rabens
August 2010
Mohr Siebeck
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
ISBN: 9783161498954
390 pages
$137.50 Paper original

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 approach, 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 the alleged material nature of the Spirit was neither part of the early Jewish nor of the Pauline notion of the Spirit. 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 who 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 a deeper knowledge of, and an intimate relationship with God, Jesus Christ and the community of faith that people are transformed and empowered by the Spirit for a religious and ethical life.

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.

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