You updated your password.

Reset Password

Enter the email address you used to create your account. We will email you instructions on how to reset your password.

Forgot Your Email Address? Contact Us

Reset Your Password


The Apostle Paul

Historian Luke Timothy Johnson offers a fresh and historically grounded assessment of the life and letters of Christianity's "apostle to the Gentiles."
Apostle Paul is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 104.
  • y_2024, m_7, d_17, h_6
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.42
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_8, tr_96
  • loc_en_CA, sid_657, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 63.87ms
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Paul's story I bought this as I am a student of the scriptures and love learning. Very disappointed in this course - the lecturer is unenthusiastic, almost monotone and there is no video - only a picture that supposedly represents Paul. There is nothing engaging about this course, there is nothing to keep my interest, nothing to make me continue with it.
Date published: 2022-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative Dr. Johnson is exceptional and informative. Recommend him highly
Date published: 2022-09-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Apostle Paul I used this as a research tool for a speech I gave on First Corinthians 13.I would have like to see this letter covered specifically since its subject is so important. Overall it was presented well and it held my interest.
Date published: 2022-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly Engaging I was unsure of the program as this was my first trial with The Great Courses and I couldn't be more satisfied. If there is or was any problem, it is only that the course left me wanting for more. I have literally listened to each lesson multiple times picking up new or additional tidbits from each revisit. The depth of the material is tremendous. This course convinced me to pursue more.
Date published: 2022-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great content This course has really taught me a lot about Paul. It really digs in to the why and how of his ministry. I am still enjoying it daily !
Date published: 2022-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eloquent presentation Paul's Theology is likely not comprehendible for average lay person without some background knowledge of the various Jewish and Gentile movements which developed after the death of Jesus; insufficient emphasis on his blend of Judaism, Greco-Roman Philosophy, Mystery Religions and their ideology to form Pauline Christology. Also, Paul's perception of the nature of the Jesus' Resurrection is not addressed and the consequence's of the Parousia..
Date published: 2022-01-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Intriguing but misses the bigger picture I've watched dozens of Great Courses lecture series and this one series is the one I've thought about the most. I find the apostle Paul an absolutely fascinating figure, and I appreciate Luke Timothy Johnson's attempt to explain this rather unusual, but pivotal figure in the early church. Johnson is highly engaging, thought-provoking, extremely well read and educated. I've read some of his other lectures including the History of Christianity, the Story of the Bible, and Jesus the Gospels which are all excellent. However, I think Johnson's understanding of Paul while insightful is limited. Johnson defines Paul as a moralistic teacher whose letters address in an ad hoc fashion various issues that arise in the churches from time to time. The one defining feature that is lacking however is the central motive of Paul which was not mere moralism but a life completely consumed by the love of God and the love of his churches, with a plea for them to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit for a transformed life in Christ. Johnson frames Paul as a moral teacher as opposed to a grand theologian that history seems to have characterized him, but I think both ideas are inaccurate. Paul was a sinner in need of grace just like the rest of us, but who had a radically changed life by the power of Christ and he spent the rest of his life spreading this gospel out of love for God and love for others. If there were one defining characteristic to get out of the apostle Paul it would be the plea to love God and love your brothers and sisters in Christ. The rest of the details of his mission and how we are to live with one another flow from that.
Date published: 2021-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stellar lecturer but read Acts & Epistles first I bought this course many years ago before I read the New Testament. I don't think it made much sense to me at the time. Having now read the entire Bible, I've listened to the course again and wow! Luke Johnson is an amazing lecturer and the course itself is a delight. Johnson had me hanging on his every word. He has a way of building suspense that is characteristic of some of my very best college professors. You wouldn't think the word suspense could be applied to a discourse on the life and writings of Paul yet there it was. As with most Biblical topics, Paul and his writings are surrounded by controversy. Johnson carefully explains these controversies, first presenting opposing views then laying out where he stands on many of these issues. Those familiar with Biblical scholarship are, doubtless, aware that seven of Paul's letters are universally regarded as having been authored by Paul. Scholars differ on the authenticity of the remaining six. Johnson will surprise some listeners by maintaining that Paul is the author of most of these as well. In this regard, he differs from Bart D. Ehrmann ("New Testament") and David Brakke ("Understanding the New Testament") but listeners shouldn't be put off by this. Instead, they should delight in learning a differing opinion. And Johnson is fair in his presentation of opposing views. Johnson also addresses other controversies: Paul's views on homosexuality, on the role of women in the church, and on inclusivity and exclusivity. Additionally, Johnson does a great job of illuminating the meaning of several Koine Greek phrases important to the understanding of Paul's views on faith. So I'm highly recommending this course but you will be best served by reading The Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles first.
Date published: 2020-07-06
  • y_2024, m_7, d_17, h_6
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.42
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_8, tr_96
  • loc_en_CA, sid_657, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 7.56ms


This illuminating course addresses many questions concerning Paul's embattled life and work. Is Paul the inventor of Christianity or part of a larger movement? Why does he focus on the moral character of the community? How do his supporters and detractors depict him? You can find the answers to these and other questions in this piercing look at what Professor Johnson calls "one of the most fascinating, important, and controversial figures in the religious history of the West."


Luke Timothy Johnson

I strive to make philosophy accessible and lovable to everyone. If everyone embraced philosophy, the world would be a much better place.


Emory University

Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Emory University's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. Professor Johnson earned a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Yale University, as well as an M.A. in Religious Studies from Indiana University, an M.Div. in Theology from Saint Meinrad School of Theology, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. A former Benedictine monk, Professor Johnson has taught at Yale Divinity School and Indiana University, where he received the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching, was elected a member of the Faculty Colloquium in Teaching, and won the Brown Derby Teaching Award and the Student Choice Award for teaching. At Emory University, he has twice received the On Eagle's Wings Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2007 he received the Candler School of Theology Outstanding Service Award. His most recent award is the 2011 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for the ideas set forth in his 2009 book, Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity. Professor Johnson is the author of more than 20 books, including The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels and The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, which is widely used as a textbook. He has also published several hundred scholarly articles and reviews.

By This Professor

Great World Religions: Christianity
The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation
An Apostle Admired and Despised

01: An Apostle Admired and Despised

What makes Paul the most important, most controversial, and least understood figure in earliest Christianity? Why does he have so many intense supporters and detractors? How should we understand his distinctive experience, the issues he faced, his way of thinking, and how all these affected the Christian religion?

33 min
How Should We Read Paul?

02: How Should We Read Paul?

We must face three critical issues. The first is personality or rhetoric; Do we seek the psychology of Paul or an understanding of his letters? The second is genius or tradition; Is Paul the inventor of Christianity, or is he part of a larger movement? The third issue is where is the real Paul?; Do we follow the Acts of the Apostles or his letters? And, among the letters, which are really Paul's?

30 min
Paul’s Life and Letters

03: Paul’s Life and Letters

By using the few extant sources critically, we can reconstruct Paul's career, at least in outline. In this framework, it is also possible to locate some of his correspondence that now forms the main basis for our knowledge of Paul and describe the main literary features of his letters that are important for their interpretation.

31 min
Problems of Early Christianity

04: Problems of Early Christianity

Because Paul's letters respond to specific situations, they are irreplaceable sources of knowledge concerning the problems experienced among the first urban Christians. This lecture provides an overview of the issues that Paul had to wrestle with in his letters.

31 min
First and Second Thessalonians

05: First and Second Thessalonians

These letters, dating from around 52 CE, represent the earliest extant Christian literature. Although some scholars contest the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians, the two letters are best read as stages of Paul's response to a single crisis in a local church concerning expectations about Jesus' return and the last days.

31 min
Life in the World—First Corinthians

06: Life in the World—First Corinthians

Paul's surviving correspondence with the Corinthian church reveals the real-life problems of a local church and Paul's view of his own mission. The Corinthians cannot agree on much of anything, whether the topic is food or sex or who gets to speak in the assembly. Paul tries to get them thinking less about their rights than about living in right relationship according to "the mind of Christ."

30 min
Life in Christ—Second Corinthians

07: Life in Christ—Second Corinthians

This letter contains some of Paul's most personal, painful, and profound reflections on the meaning of ministry, which he sees as a process of self-emptying for the sake of others. Paul sees Jesus as the model for such a reconciling way of life, and asks the Corinthians to join him in freely imitating that pattern.

30 min
Life and Law—Galatians

08: Life and Law—Galatians

One of the fundamental issues facing the first Christians, "the connection between Christ and the law of Moses" surfaces with particular sharpness in Galatians. In this passionate yet rigorously argued letter, Paul insists on a vision of life empowered by God's spirit and shaped by the pattern of Jesus' faith and love.

30 min
Life and Righteousness—Romans

09: Life and Righteousness—Romans

A magisterial argument concerning God's ways with the world, Romans is Paul's theological masterpiece. Presenting an orderly exposition of the "good news" as Paul proclaimed it, Romans has affected the course of theology in the Western church more than any other New Testament writing.

31 min
Fellowship—Letters from Captivity

10: Fellowship—Letters from Captivity

Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians seem to have been written while Paul was in prison. Taken as a group, the letters share a concern for fellowship, especially when all-too-human tensions threaten to deface the ideal of equality and unity in Christ. Ephesians stands as the best expression of these concerns and the Pauline tradition's most mature reflection on the meaning of the church.

30 min
History and Theology

11: History and Theology

Most scholars today think that the three letters to Paul's delegates (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) were written pseudonymously after Paul's death and, when read not as real letters but as a fictional correspondence, reveal a stage of development in the organization of early Christianity. This letter makes a case for a different approach to reading these three epistles.

31 min
Paul’s Influence

12: Paul’s Influence

Paul's letters have always been read aloud in worship, which is how he meant them to be used, and how they have continued to shape Christian awareness. Whatever his weaknesses, Paul still challenges his hearers to live more thoughtful and faithful lives as followers of the risen Jesus, and Paul's powerful voice subverts all reductions of Christianity to mere religious routine.

31 min