Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Perspective on Paul

In summary: (a) It builds on Sanders' new perspective on Second Temple Judaism, and Sanders' reassertion of the basic graciousness expressed in Judaism's understanding and practice of covenantal nomism. (b) It observes that a social function of the law was an integral aspect of Israel's covenantal nomism, where separateness to God (holiness) was understood to require separateness from the (other) nations as two sides of the one coin, and that the law was understood as the means to maintaining both. (c) It notes that Paul's own teaching on justification focuses largely if not principally on the need to over-come the barrier which the law was seen to interpose between Jew and Gentile, so that the 'all' of 'to all who believe' (Rom. 1.17) signifies in the first place, Gentile as well as Jew. (d) It suggests that 'works of law' became a key slogan in Paul's exposition of his justification gospel because so many of Paul's fellow Jewish believers were insisting on certain works as indispensable to their own (and others?) standing within the covenant, and therefore as indispensable to salvation. (e) It protests that failure to recognize this major dimension of Paul's doctrine of justification by faith may have ignored or excluded a vital factor in combating the nationalism and racialism which has so distorted and diminished Christianity past and present.

- James D. G. Dunn, The New Perspective on Paul: Collected Essays. WUNT 185, Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005, 15.
HT: Metalepsis. One should quickly note that it is rumoured that this volume will be published by Eerdmans, so as to make it more accessable. That will be fabtastic!

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