Cavan W. Concannon’s Profaning Paul is likely the first work of biblical criticism that begins in an outhouse and ends in a garbage heap. Its references to waste offer laugh-out-loud moments throughout its provocative work, which concentrates on modern interpretations of the Pauline epistles. This wouldn’t be the best choice for fundamentalist friends, but it’s a fascinating, entertaining book for spiritual seekers who are willing to get their hands dirty.
Paul’s letters are central to much of Christianity; verses like I Corinthians 13 are iconic. But the letters are also littered with passages that tolerate slavery, subjugate women, fantasize violence and control, devalue the fleshy body and the physical world, and implicitly condone white male power. Thus, Concannon’s book contends that leading Pauline scholars are like garbage pickers, trying to salvage the power in Paul while explaining away the rest.
Brilliant at exploring the fine line between rotten garbage and life-giving compost, the book claims that Paul “can be explained, but he can’t be saved. He’s just too dangerous.” Profaning Paul reveals him as “no longer the family patriarch but the weird uncle we occasionally invite to Thanksgiving.” Who knew that studying the muck of a first-century toilet could be so inspiring?
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.