The African American Interpreter and Paul

The Distillery Season Five

What is the African American biblical interpreter to do with the letters of the Apostle Paul? New Testament scholar Dr. Lisa Bowens takes aim at this question in her new book, African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation. In this interview, Sushama Austin-Connor talks with Dr. Bowens about the inspiration behind this work, the “hidden figures” of African American hermeneutics, interpretations of Paul that resist White supremacy and racism, and more.

Lisa Bowens


Lisa Bowens, associate professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, earned a BS (cum laude), MSBE, and MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and an MTS and ThM from Duke Divinity School. She received her PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary. Her recently published book, African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation, (Eerdmans) is the first book devoted solely to investigating a historical trajectory of how African Americans have understood Paul and utilized his work to resist and protest injustice and racism in their own writings from the 1700s to the mid-twentieth century. Her previous book, An Apostle in Battle: Paul and Spiritual Warfare in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (Mohr Siebeck), is a revision of her dissertation and examines Paul’s ascent to the third heaven through a cosmic/apocalyptic lens. It traces martial imagery in the letter and explores how this imagery facilitates understanding Paul’s journey as an example of spiritual warfare.

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Author, Speaker, Ordained Minister

Danielle Shroyer, Class of 1999

“To be in a community where I got to hear so many different perspectives—that was profound for me. I’m grateful for the curiosity, for the practice of learning that was cultivated for me at Seminary.”