New publication on Paul and Time by Dr. Ann Jervis
Dr. Ann Jervis, Professor Emerita of New Testament at Wycliffe College, has recently completed her book, Paul and Time: Life in the Temporality of Christ. This work challenges standard interpretations of how Paul understood time that have assumed that the apostle inherited Jewish apocalyptic sequential two-age temporality. Dr. Jervis proposes instead that Paul conceived of time in terms of “life in this age” or “life in Christ”: that is, that humans apart from Christ live in this age, whereas believers live entirely in the temporality of Christ.
The writing of this groundbreaking book, supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research (SSHRC) grant, has taken over five years; however, its conception took place much earlier. “The idea for the book goes back to the first year of my doctorate when I read a book on Christ and Time by Oscar Cullmann,” recalled Dr. Jervis, “and became fascinated with thinking about how Biblical authors conceived of time.”
The new work is scheduled for publication in November 2023 and is currently available for pre-order – in both hardcopy and e-book formats – through the publisher’s website (Baker Publishing Group), as well as at Amazon, Barn and Nobles and other bookstores. A session of the upcoming Society of Biblical Literature conference this November in San Antonio will be devoted to reviewing the book.
How did Paul understand time? Standard interpretations are that Paul modified his inherited Jewish apocalyptic sequential two-age temporality. Paul solved the conundrum of Christ's resurrection occurring without the resurrection of the righteous by asserting that the ages are not sequential but rather that they overlap. Believers live in already-not yet temporality.
In this groundbreaking book, Ann Jervis instead proposes that Paul did not think in terms of two ages but rather of life in this age or life in Christ. Humans apart from Christ live in this age, whereas believers live entirely in the temporality of Christ.
Christ's temporality, like God's, is time in which change occurs--at least between Christ and God and creation. Their temporality is tensed, but the tenses are nonsequential. The past is in their present, as is the future. However, this is not a changeless now but a now in which change occurs (though not in the way that human chronological time perceives change). Those joined to Christ live Christ's temporality while also living chronological time.
In clear writing, Jervis engages both philosophical and traditional biblical understandings of time. Her inquiry is motivated and informed by the long-standing recognition of the centrality of union with Christ for Paul. Jervis points out that union with Christ has significant temporal implications.
Living Christ's time transforms believers' suffering, sinning, and physical dying. While in the present evil age these are instruments purposed for destruction, in Christ they are transformed in service of God's life. Living Christ's time also changes the significance of the eschaton. It is less important to those in Christ than it is for creation, for those joined to the One over whom death has no dominion are already released from bondage to corruption.
Scholars and students will profit from this lively contribution to Pauline studies, which offers big-picture proposals based on detailed work with Paul's letters. The book includes a foreword by John Barclay.