Problems Arising from the Attempt to Find Theological Coherence between Paul’s Letters



The history of interpretation of Paul’s letters includes discussions about the center in the apostle’s theology. A number of attempts to define this pivotal theme have exemplified the difficulty in precision and broadness of the exercise. The proposals to limit the “kernel” idea to a single doctrine or theological concept have been shown to be inadequate. J. C. Beker’s coherence-contingency scheme has received positive evaluation among scholars and suggests a helpful direction. J. Plevnik’s Trinitarian approach in handling the center is sufficiently broad to cover Paul’s theology and its foundation. The student of Paul should be aware of the problems and misconstructions involved in finding the driving principle behind the Pauline letters. Among them are: bringing a foreign idea into the text, losing track of a specific letter’s context, ignoring changes in expression of the apostle’s ideas, neglecting particular topics and the suppressing alternative perspectives.


Center, Paul, theology, coherence, particularity.


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