Professor John M.G. Barclay gives special lecture

Professor John M.G. Barclay, Durham U.K., will give a guest lecture on the topic "Paul and the Gift". 


04.09.2018 - 10:15 to 12:00

Barclay is one of the world's leading New Testament scholars, and will introduce one of his recent and influential works for discussion. Barclay places the notions of 'gift' and 'grace' in Paul within its religious and social contexts.

Tuesday 4. September 10.15-12.00, room 417 (lecture 10.15-11.00, followed by discussion).

John M. G. Barclay (60) was born in 1958. Twenty years of his early career was spent at the University of Glasgow: he was a lecturer from 1984 to 1996, senior lecturer from 1996 to 2000, and professor from 2000 to 2003. In 2003, he was named the successor to James D.G. Dunn as the Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University, where he has been for fifteen years now. Barclay is the current chair of the British New Testament Society. He is the former editor of the academic journal New Testament Studies.

One of Barclay's most recent works, Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans, 2015), has drawn considerable praise from scholars around the world. It has been hailed by some as “the most significant book on Paul since E.P. Sanders's Paul and Palestinian Judaism” (1977). It has been said to be "one of the best books on Pauline theology in the last twenty years." "This book will be not only much-discussed in Pauline scholarship, it will be much-prized for the genuine advances it offers in understanding Paul’s thought.

One of the insights from Paul and the Gift which has led to its very positive reception, is the manner in which Barclay develops Paul's theology of grace, charis. By setting this concept in the context of ancient notions of gift, Barclay discerns six key ways in which gift, and thus grace, can be conveyed in Paul. These are: superabundance, singularity, priority, incongruity, efficacy, and non-circularity. 

In an interview Barclay explains, "So while I disagree with the New Perspective in its sidelining grace within Paul’s thought, I agree with its emphasis that Paul was fundamentally concerned with creating new communities that crossed ethnic and social boundaries.

Although they maintain a warm relationship, Barclay has been an outspoken critic of N.T. Wright's work on Paul, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (SPCK, 2013). This has led to several high-profile debates between the two, concerning each author's most recent books, e.g. at New College, Edinburgh Universityon June 15, 2016. They also debated Paul's relationship to the Roman Empire (the 'Paul and Empire' conversation) at the Society of Biblical LiteratureAnnual Meeting in San Diego. Barclay's plenary speech from this session is now published as a chapter in his most recent work Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews(Eerdmans, 2016). 

Selected works:
1) Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora: From Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE to 117 CE),2nd ed. 2018 (1996).
2) Paul and the Gift, 2015.
3) The Last Years of Paul: Essays from the Tarragona Conference. Ed. with P.I. Tàrrech and J. Frey, 2015.
4) Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews, 2011 (repr. 2016).
5) Against Apion. Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary 10, 2006.
6) Divine and Human Agency in Paul and His Cultural Environment. Ed. with Simon Gathercole, 2006.
7) (Ed.) Negotiating Diaspora: Jewish Strategies in the Roman Empire, 2004.
8) Diaspora. Translated by Paolo Bernardini, 2004.
9) Colossians and Philemon, 1997 (repr. 2004).
10) Early Christian Thought in Jewish Context. Ed. with J. P. McMurdo Sweet, 1996.
11) Obeying the Truth: A Study of Paul's Ethics in Galatians, 1988.