Welcome to Corpus Paulinum




TEACHER: Fr John Watson

DURATION: 25 classes


Besides the four Gospels, the canon of the New Testament also contains the epistles of St. Paul and other apostolic writings, composed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by which, according to the wise plan of God, those matters which concern Christ the Lord are confirmed, His true teaching is more and more fully stated, the saving power of the divine work of Christ is preached, the story is told of the beginnings of the Church and its marvelous growth, and its glorious fulfillment is foretold.’ (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 20)

The theological study of Sacred Scripture aims to introduce students to knowledge and understanding of the word of God transmitted in writing, and nourish their spiritual life. The Scriptures are presented in their historical and philological context, within the framework of Sacred Tradition, in which the inspired books have been entrusted by God to the Church for conservation, transmission and interpretation. The subjects dedicated to specific books of the Bible provide an introduction and exegesis, covering questions regarding the authenticity, composition and structure of each book, along with exegetical and doctrinal study using correct methods of interpretation.

This course will examine the life and writings of St Paul, his writings, and his theology written under inspiration by the Holy Spirit, with a particular focus on Christ’s work of salvation, and the beginnings, life and fulfillment of the Church.


By the end of this course students should be able to:

  1. Understand the historical, cultural and religious context of St Paul, particularly Judaism and Hellenism in the 1st century
  2. Be familiar with key events of St Paul’s life, including his conversion, missionary journeys and martyrdom, and identify the biographical sources
  3. Compile a table recording, for each of St Paul’s letters: a) key theological teachings, b) where & how it was written, c) transmission and manuscript tradition, d) distinguishing characteristics
  4. Explain the doctrinal unity of Paul’s writings and major themes, especially in relation to: a) Christology, b) anthropology, c) ecclesiology, d) moral life 


The course will cover the following topics:

Part 1: Historical, Cultural and Religious Context

  • The World of St Paul
  • Biographical Sources
  • The Conversion of St Paul
  • Missionary Journeys
  • Final Years

Part 2: The Writings of St Paul

  • The Pauline Epistles and the epistle genre in the ancient times
  • Epistles to the Thessalonians
  • The “Great Epistles” (I): The Epistles to the Corinthians.
  • The “Great Epistles” (II): The Epistles to the Galatians and to the Romans
  • The Captivity Epistles (I). The Epistle to the Philippians
  • The Captivity Epistles (II). The Epistle to the Ephesians and to the Colossians
  • The Pastoral Epistles
  • The Epistle to the Hebrews

Part 3: The Doctrine of St Paul

  • The fundamental ideas of Pauline theology
  • Some fundamental Pauline concepts
  • Justification through faith
  • The “kenosis” of Christ
  • Christ the Head
  • Christ, fullness of divine revelation
  • Eschatology
  • Moral exhortations of St. Paul

The full program is available here |  VIEW



“The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul”, by J Wooldridge, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0




Codex Sinaiticus, a manuscript of the Bible written in the middle of the fourth century, contains the earliest complete copy of the Christian New Testament. The hand-written text is in Greek. The New Testament appears in the original vernacular language (koine) and the Old Testament in the version, known as the Septuagint, that was adopted by early Greek-speaking Christians. In the Codex, the text of both the Septuagint and the New Testament has been heavily annotated by a series of early correctors. Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book. Find out more about the Codex Sinaiticus and view the manuscripts here. | VIEW


To be advised


Essential Reading

Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, The Navarre Bible: The Letters of St Paul, (NY: Scepter), 2005.

Basevi, C., ‘Introduction to the Theology of St Paul’, in The Navarre Bible: The Letters of St Paul, (NY: Scepter), 2005.

Benedict XVI, St Paul, (San Francisco: Ignatius), 2017. (This work is a collection of Wednesday audiences given by Pope Benedict XVI throughout the Year of St Paul in 2008. Texts of the audiences can be read online, beginning here.)  |  VIEW


Further Reading

Brown, R., Fitzmyer, J., and Murphy, R., (eds.),The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, (Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice Hall), 1990.

Fitzmyer, J. A., Paul and His Theology: A Brief Sketch, (Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice Hall), 1989.

Freedman, D. N., Herion, G. A. and others, (dirs.), The Anchor Bible Dictionary, (New York: Doubleday), 1992.

Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., and Reid, D. G., (dirs.), Dictionary of Paul and his Letters, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press). 1993.

Wright, N. T., What Saint Paul Really Said, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1997.

Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, 18.11.1965. | VIEW

First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution, Dei Filius, 1870.  | VIEW

Header image: Johann Heiss, Paul & Barnabas at Lystra, 1678