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Saint Paul as Spiritual Director: An Analysis of the Concept of the Imitation of Paul with Implicati

Author: Victor A Copan
Published By: Paternoster Press (Milton Keynes)
Price: £19.99
ISBN: 1 84227 367 1

Reviewed by Luke Penkett.

Copan’s book, in the Paternoster Biblical Monographs Series, is a revision of his earlier studies, with additional material on the imitation of Paul that has appeared since his dissertation. In a period when imitation has a peripheral place, if one at all, in spiritual direction, this study offers a substantial contribution to Pauline scholarship and the life of the spiritual father or mother.

Once one gets past the many glitches in the text, which may be due to poor editing, one cannot help but be impressed by the thoroughness of the author in examining the pastoral theology of Paul as revealed in the letters to the Thessalonians, Corinthians and Philippians.

The introductory chapter surveys and clarifies the terminology of spiritual direction, and includes overviews of selected twentieth-century spiritual directors. A framework for understanding Paul within the context of imitation in the Graeco-Judaic world is then constructed. Three chapters follow, analyzing the texts in which Paul instructs his audiences to imitate him. Here I would have been helped by far greater use of the letters to the Romans and to the Galatians.

Chapter seven responds to Elizabeth Castelli’s Imitating Paul: a Discourse of Power (1991), and the final chapter looks at issues and implications of Pauline imitation.

There is a useful bibliography and a series of helpful indices.

Luke Penkett

Monk and Priest working with L'Arche Community

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You are reading Issue 42 of Ministry Today, published in March 2008.

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