The degree of Paul's self-absorption at this point in his career is remarkable. . . . One wonders what the Philippians made of Paul's call for unity and reconciliation [Phil 4:2-3], when he exhibited nothing but contempt for those at Ephesus who disagreed with him?--Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, Paul: A Critical Life (Oxford University Press 1996), 224-25
. . . A further indication of Paul's self-absorption is his citation of a magnificent Christological hymn [Phil 2:6-11], which is perhaps the most damning condemnation, albeit implicit, of his egocentric attitude.
Of course, it is easier to call Paul egocentric when you reject Ephesians 3:8 and 1 Timothy 1:15 as pseudepigraphical--but then, one wonders, why would an imitative admirer of Paul speak in such castigating terms of the apostle?
I eagerly await the day this book goes out of print. It is an awful book. Not because we should treat Paul as if he never sinned but because it is a striking example of what it means to study the Bible by standing over it rather than sitting under it. (I took a class with Murphy-O'Connor two years ago at Notre Dame and briefly reflected on it here.)
Murphy-O'Connor is playing academic games with the text. Like a drowning man studying the words 'HOLD ON HERE' on the side of a life preserver thrown to him, questioning whether such words were really written by the Coast Guard.