In the (e)mail: Nanos and Zetterholm, “Paul within Judaism”

In addition to the Boccacci and Segovia and Rodríguez and Thiessen volumes, Fortress Press has kindly, if accidentally, passed along a review copy of Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm’s edited volume Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-century Context to the Apostle (2015). According to the book’s blurb:

In these chapters, a group of renowned international scholars seek to describe Paul and his work from “within Judaism,” rather than on the assumption, still current after thirty years of the “New Perspective,” that in practice Paul left behind aspects of Jewish living after his discovery of Jesus as Christ (Messiah). After an introduction that surveys recent study of Paul and highlights the centrality of questions about Paul’s Judaism, chapters explore the implications of reading Paul’s instructions as aimed at Christ-following non-Jews, teaching them how to live in ways consistent with Judaism while remaining non-Jews. The contributors take different methodological points of departure: historical, ideological-critical, gender-critical, and empire-critical, and examine issues of terminology and of interfaith relations. Surprising common ground among the contributors presents a coherent alternative to the “New Perspective.” The volume concludes with a critical evaluation of the Paul within Judaism perspective by Terence L. Donaldson, a well-known voice representative of the best insights of the New Perspective.

Apparently, the message with this title attached was intended for a different reviewer. But, since I hadn’t yet gotten a copy of this text, I was most grateful to have one, and Fortress was amenable to my keeping the copy in exchange for mentioning it here.

In the (e)mail: Rodríguez and Thiessen, “The So-called Jew”

In addition to Boccaccini and Segovia’s Paul the Jew, inbox recently saw the arrival from Fortress Press of a review copy of Rafael Rodríguez and Matthew Thiessen’s edited volume The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (2016). According to the book’s blurb:

Decades ago, Werner G. Kümmel described the historical problem of Romans as its “double character”: concerned with issues of Torah and the destiny of Israel, the letter is explicitly addressed not to Jews but to Gentiles. At stake in the numerous answers given to that question is nothing less than the purpose of Paul’s most important letter. In The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, nine Pauline scholars focus their attention on the rhetoric of diatribe and characterization in the opening chapters of the letter, asking what Paul means by the “so-called Jew” in Romans 2 and where else in the letter’s argumentation that figure appears or is implied. Each component of Paul’s argument is closely examined with particular attention to the theological problems that arise in each.

I’m looking forward to working through the text and reviewing it for the Stone-Campbell Journal.

I recently also had the privilege of reviewing Rafael’s prior If You Call Yourself a Jew: Reappraising Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Wipf & Stock, 2014). I very much appreciate the argument that Rafael brings out in that volume. Rafael has very kindly received the review, though he rightly notes some lingering questions that tend to make me lean in a bit different direction. But, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what in the new Fortress volume may speak to those or other related matters. As H.-G. Gadamer reflects,

We say we “conduct” a conversation, but the more genuine a conversation is, the less its conduct lies within the will of either partner. Thus a genuine conversation is never the one that we wanted to conduct. Rather, it is generally more correct to say that we fall into conversation, or even that we become involved in it. The way one word follows another, with the conversation taking its own twists and reaching its own conclusion, may well be conducted in some way, but the partners conversing are far less leaders of it than the led. (Truth and Method, 401; underlining added)

In the (e)mail: Boccaccini and Segovia, “Paul the Jew”

Boccaccini and Segovia, "Paul the Jew" coverIn my email recently, I found Fortress Press had kindly provided a review copy of Gabriele Boccaccini and Carlos Segovia’s edited volume Paul the Jew: Rereading the Apostle as a Figure of Second Temple Judaism (2016). According to the book’s blurb:

The decades-long effort to understand the apostle Paul within his Jewish context is now firmly established in scholarship on early Judaism, as well as on Paul. The latest fruit of sustained analysis appears in the essays gathered here, from leading international scholars who take account of the latest investigations into the scope and variety present in Second Temple Judaism. Contributors address broad historical and theological questions—Paul’s thought and practice in relationship with early Jewish apocalypticism, messianism, attitudes toward life under the Roman Empire, appeal to Scripture, the Law, inclusion of Gentiles, the nature of salvation, and the rise of Gentile-Christian supersessionism—as well as questions about interpretation itself, including the extent and direction of a “paradigm shift” in Pauline studies and the evaluation of the Pauline legacy. Paul the Jew goes as far as any effort has gone to restore the apostle to his own historical, cultural, and theological context, and with persuasive results.

I’m looking forward to working through the text and reviewing it for the Stone-Campbell Journal.

Bates, “Salvation by allegiance alone” and some theological forebears

Bates, "Salvation by allegiance alone" coverOne of the new titles in the recent Baker catalog (due for release this month) is Matthew Bates’s Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King. According to Michael Bird’s blurb,

Matthew Bates argues that faith or believing is not mere assent, not easy believism, but covenantal loyalty to the God who saves his people through the Lord Jesus Christ. Bates forces us to rethink the meaning of faith, the gospel, and works with a view to demonstrating their significance for true Christian discipleship. This will be a controversial book, but perhaps it is the controversy we need!

I haven’t read the volume yet, and the book’s apparent thesis will doubtless be controversial in some quarters as Bird suggests. But, this thesis is also something that definitely resembles prior thinking.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had the formulation “only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes”—because believing is a response to an announcement that has the nature of a command (Cost of Discipleship, 69–70). Or,  as Augustine suggested, the notion of faith may have two aspects:

We use the word in one sense when we say, “He had no faith in me,” and in another sense when we say, “He did not keep faith with me.” The one phrase means, “He did not believe what I said;” the other, “He did not do what he promised.” (On the Spirit and the Letter 31.54)

Or, indeed, in Romans, as sometimes is bypassed all too easily, part of Paul’s portrait of Abraham is precisely that his faith was also obedient: Abraham becomes the father not only of individuals within the scope of his biological descendants, but to all “those follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while he was uncircumcised” (Rom 4:12; τοῖς στοιχοῦσιν τοῖς ἴχνεσιν τῆς ἐν ἀκροβυστίᾳ πίστεως τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἀβραάμ; cf. Rom 1:5, 3:31; Dunn, Romans, 211–12).

Free books for March from Faithlife

Faithlife logoMarch’s free and reduced-price companion volumes from Faithlife include:

Logos: Paula Gooder, This Risen Existence: The Spirit of Easter, and for $1.99, Dennis Ngien, Fruit for the Soul: Luther on the Lament Psalms

Verbum: Bonaventure, The Life of Saint Francis, and for $0.99, Bonaventure, Mystical Opuscula

I haven’t yet found a dedicated Spanish “free book of the month” page, but the past several months have also had on offer a free Spanish resource. This month’s is, in translation, A. W. Pink’s Reflexiones paulinas: Estudios en las oraciones del Apóstol (vol. 1).