To be a Christian is to suffer like the Lord. Or so St. Paul thought. Or so Michael Gorman thinks Paul thought. If there is a unifying theme to this nearly 700-page “introduction” to Paul, it is the cruciform shape of the apostle’s thought, which is also the pattern for Christian life. In letter after letter, whether explicitly or implicitly, Paul brings the story or “narrative pattern” of Jesus Christ (best set forth in the pre-Pauline hymn of Philippians 2) to bear upon the concrete situations—the congregational life—of early Christian communities.
Seen in this light, Paul is not primarily a systematic theologian (frequently denied); nor is the label hermeneutical theologian (frequently affirmed) most appropriate. Rather, “pastoral theologian” best describes Paul as we know him from his letters.