This unit will introduce and investigate the theology of the apostle Paul, and its relationship to his ethical teaching. You will explore the core theological ideas that lead Paul to the articulations of Christian faith and practice that we find in his letters. You will consider the strengths and weaknesses of different accounts of Paul’s theology and will learn how they relate to contemporary theological and ethical issues, including debates about questions of identity, race, gender and political engagement. By studying Paul’s letters in detail, you will gain a deeper understanding of the development of early Christian theology and its relevance for today.

Unit code: BN3129P

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: New Testament

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Explain, with reference to key primary texts, the relationships between the main theological and ethical ideas in the Pauline letters.


Discuss and account for the relationship between theological ideas and ethical instructions through exegesis of a specific text.


Critique a number of the most important scholarly debates about the central ideas and overall coherence of Paul’s theology.


Assess the importance of Paul’s theology and ethics for Christian theology and practice today.

Unit sequence

Prerequisite: one unit of introductory New Testament study: BN1000P/BN2000P/BN1009P/BN2009P or equivalent.


Lectures for this unit will be provided in the classroom and captured and supplemented by pre-recorded video material accessible to both face to face and online students.

Seminars relating to the interpretation of key texts from the Pauline letters will be held in the classroom and/or through real-time online conference.

Indicative Bibliography

NOTE: this is an indicative list of introductory works relevant to the unit content and learning outcomes. More advanced studies are listed in the postgraduate unit record.

  • Bassler, Jouette M. Navigating Paul: An Introduction to Key Theological Concepts. Louisville / London: Westminster John Knox, 2007.
  • Dunn, James D. G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1998.
  • Eisenbaum, Pamela. Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
  • Horrell, David G. An Introduction to the Study of Paul. 3rd ed. London: T & T Clark, 2015.
  • Marchal, Joseph A., ed. Studying Paul's Letters: Contemporary Perspectives and Methods. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012.
  • Sampley, J. Paul. Walking in Love: Moral Progress and Spiritual Growth with the Apostle Paul. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2016.
  • Sanders, E. P. Paul: The Apostle’s Life, Letters, and Thought. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015.
  • Schnelle, Udo. Apostle Paul: His Life and Theology. Translated by M. Eugene Boring. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.
  • Thompson, James W. Moral Formation according to Paul: The Context and Coherence of Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011.
  • Long Westfall, Cynthia. Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay (3000 words)

0 60.0

Exegesis (2000 words)

0 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 5 Sep, 2018

Unit record last updated: 2019-03-04 10:27:27 +1100