Symposium Introduction


Philip Ziegler
Jamie Davies
Alexandra Brown
Beverly Gaventa





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.


Reviews and Endorsements


“Surprising, even shocking on first read, Jervis’s book forces us to ask if we have read Paul aright at an absolutely central point, and it requires us to seek new patterns of thought in his wake. For that, we should all be heartily grateful.”
John Barclay

“I loved this book. I was, by turns, fascinated, charmed, and challenged. It engages some of the deepest questions we face in relation to time, God, and our understanding of Paul–questions that lie at the very heart of existence itself and yet that are seldom posed by Paul’s interpreters. It draws throughout on the reflections of some of the finest minds in theology, philosophy, and science, as well as in biblical scholarship. And it engages multiple key Pauline texts with deft, accurate exegesis. But it does so throughout with such elegance and clarity that I was drawn smoothly through its spiraling discussions and arguments to its key insight: the absolute centrality of our existence within the risen Christ and within his life-giving time. An original, powerful, and profound engagement with Paul. In short, a gem.”
Douglas A. Campbell, Duke Divinity School

“For a very long time, discourse about time in the Bible has been conditioned by well-worn expressions such as ‘Heilsgeschichte,’ ‘eschatology,’ and ‘apocalyptic.’ In this volume, however, Jervis offers a much-needed and genuinely fresh perspective on Pauline theology, an approach that has potential to reconfigure the way one might consider the New Testament corpus as a whole. Once begun, the book is hard to put down.”
Loren Stuckenbruck, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

“Debates about Paul’s thought, especially whether it was ‘salvation historical’ or ‘apocalyptic,’ often speak at cross-purposes because they leave unexamined Paul’s conception of time. In this provocative book, Jervis shines a light on the temporality of Paul’s conception of union with Christ. She challenges established explanations (especially the overlapping ‘two-age’ hypothesis) and asks penetrating questions about our assumed temporalities and whether Paul shared them. The result is a bold and stimulating thesis with far-reaching implications for many aspects of Pauline theology.”
Jamie Davies, Trinity College, Bristol

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