Introduction to Paul

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1


The unit offers a brief overview of Paul’s career and background and goes on to explore the letter genre and assess debates about authorship.  In addition, students consider the destination, structure and purpose of one of Paul’s major letters, usually 1 Corinthians, alongside a study of its significant themes.


To provide an introduction to the life and thought of Paul with a focus on one of his major letters.


Category of outcome

By the end of this unit students should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

·         Outline the background, career and significance of the Apostle Paul

·         Recognise the general features of the letter genre

Intellectual skills

·         Critically assess arguments in the debates on the authorship of some Pauline letters

·         Explain the structure and major themes of a significant Pauline letter

·         Have a critically informed opinion of its purpose and audience

Practical and Transferable skills; Personal qualities

·         Demonstrate basic skills in the exegesis of the text

·         Reflect on possible implications of the themes of this letter for today’s church


Assessment task


Weighting within unit


·         An online test       


10 questions




·         An exegetical essay


2000 words







Available on which programme(s)?

BA in Theology


1.    Overview of the unit and an introduction to Paul

2.    Reading ancient letters; Philemon

3.    Paul’s relationship with the church at Corinth and an overview of his gospel

4.    Apocalyptic thinking and how Paul was shaped by it

5.    1 Corinthians 1-4; the divisions in the church; wisdom

6.    1 Corinthians 5-7; sexual ethics and marriage

7.    1 Corinthians 8-10; food offered to idols

8.    Women in Roman society and the Pauline communities

9.    The Lord’s supper; Roman meal practices

10.  1 Corinthians 12-14; spiritual gifts; Christian gatherings

11.  1 Corinthians 15; the resurrection

Teaching method

Interactive lectures

Additional eLearning content

Unit materials are available at Spurgeon’s Online to support student learning


Written feedback within 15 working days from submission

Date of approval (for office use)


Information updated on

December 2015

Indicative reading

Barrett, C. K., Paul: An Introduction to His Thought (London: Chapman, 1994)

Drane, John, Introducing the New Testament (London: Lion, 19992)

Dunn, James D.G. (ed.), The Cambridge companion to St Paul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough, Encountering the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005)

Garland, David E., 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003)

Gombis, T., Paul: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: T&T Clark, 2010)

Hawthorne, Gerald F., Ralph P. Martin and Daniel G. Reid (eds), Dictionary of Paul and his letters (Leicester: IVP, 1993)

Horrell, David, An Introduction to the Study of Paul (London: Continuum, 2000, 20062)

Jones, Simon, The world of the early church: a social history (Oxford: Lion, 2011)

Thiselton, Anthony C., The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2000)

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Introduction to Paul

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
Course Unit 124





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Rev. Simon M. Jones

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