The folks at Zondervan sponsored this year’s Institute for Biblical Research meeting reception. In addition to the deserts there, they very kindly provided attending members with a copy of the recent (2012) Counterpoints volume on Paul, edited by Michael Bird. According to the publisher’s description:
The apostle Paul was a vital force in the development of Christianity. Paul’s historical and religious context affects the theological interpretation of Paul’s writings, no small issue in the whole of Christian theology.
Recent years have seen much controversy about the apostle Paul, his religious and social context, and its effects on his theology. In the helpful Counterpoints format, four leading scholars present their views on the best framework for describing Paul’s theological perspective, including his view of salvation, the significance of Christ, and his vision for the churches.
Contributors and views include:
- Reformed View: Thomas R. Schreiner
- Catholic View: Luke Timothy Johnson
- Post-New Perspective View: Douglas Campbell
- Jewish View: Mark D. Nanos
Like other titles in the Counterpoints: Bible and Theology collection, Four Views on the Apostle Paul gives theology students the tools they need to draw informed conclusions on debated issues.
General editor and New Testament scholar Michael F. Bird covers foundational issues and provides helpful summaries in his introduction and conclusion. New Testament scholars, pastors, and students of Christian history and theology will find Four Views on the Apostle Paul an indispensable introduction to ongoing debates on the apostle Paul’s life and teaching.
Ben Dunson and I were at Westminster together for a bit before his Durham days, and it’s wonderful to see that this volume is now available. For those who want to take a look at the original thesis, Durham has it archived here.
The latest issue of New Testament Studies includes:
- Markus Lau, “Geweißte Grabmäler. Motivkritische Anmerkungen zu Mt 23.27–28”
- Matthias Adrian, “Der Blick durch die enge Tür: Lk 13.22–30 im architekturgeschichtlichen Kontext der städtischen domus”
- Jonathan Bourgel, “Les récits synoptiques de la Passion préservent-ils une couche narrative composée à la veille de la Grande Révolte Juive?”
- George H. van Kooten, “’Εκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ: The ‘Church of God’ and the Civic Assemblies (ἐκκλησίαι) of the Greek Cities in the Roman Empire: A Response to Paul Trebilco and Richard A. Horsley”
- Alexander N. Kirk, “Building with the Corinthians: Human Persons as the Building Materials of 1 Corinthians 3.12 and the ‘Work’ of 3.13–15”
- Michael Bachmann, “Identität bei Paulus: Beobachtungen am Galaterbrief”
Google Books has available two full PDF copies (1, 2) of the original German of F. C. Baur’s Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi (1845). Also available are the first and second volumes of second edition of the English translation produced by Eduard Zeller (Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, 2 vols., 1873–1875). In addition, the book’s second, posthumously produced German edition (2 vols., 1866–1867) from which Zeller translated the English version is available in a single, combined PDF that contains both of its volumes.
The latest issue of the Bulletin for Biblical Research arrived in yesterday’s mail and includes:
- Beat Weber, “Toward a Theory of the Poetry of the Hebrew Bible: The Poetry of the Psalms as a Test Case”
- Grant LeMarquand, “The Bible as Specimen, Talisman, and Dragoman in Africa: A Look at Some African Uses of the Psalms and 1 Corinthians 12–14”
- Craig Keener, “Paul and Sedition: Pauline Apologetic in Acts”
- David Stark, “Rewriting Prophets in the Corinthian Correspondence: A Window on Paul’s Hermeneutic”
- Ayodeji Adewuya, “The Spiritual Powers of Ephesians 6:10–18 in the Light of African Pentecostal Spirituality”
Adewuya’s article is a revision of his engaging lecture at this past November’s Institute for Biblical Research meeting in San Francisco. My own essay discusses “rewritten Bible,” or “rewritten scripture,” particularly with a view toward using this literature as an aide in discussions of Pauline hermeneutics.
The New Perspective on Paul has its beginnings in “the Sanders revolution” (Wright 18). Indeed, without Sanders’ considerable historical work, the movement would almost certainly not be the significant force it is today. Paul and Palestinian Judaism is Sanders’ most systematic presentation of the fruits of his extended historical survey of Judaism, and one can scarcely work long in Pauline studies without reckoning thoroughly with this work (cf. Carson, O’Brien, and Seifrid 4).1 The first two-thirds of the work surveys ancient Judaism and attempts to draw some conclusions about it, especially as these conclusions relate to the frequently-leveled charge that the Judaism of the period was systemically legalistic. That is, Sanders is interested to discern whether Palestinian Judaism, by its very nature, encouraged or even demanded legalism.
To build a case for his answer to this question, Paul and Palestinian Judaism provides Sanders’ examination of vast quantities of Jewish literature. Overall, Sanders thinks that this literature represents the covenant as preceding and necessitating the commandments, rather than portraying the covenant as being preceded by the commandments and merited by obedience to them. As such,
“[t]he all-pervasive view [of what constitutes the essence of Jewish religion and of how that religion ‘works’] can best be summarized as ‘covenantal nomism.’ Briefly put, covenantal nomism is the view that one’s place in God’s plan is established on the basis of the covenant and that the covenant requires as the proper response of man his obedience to its commandments, while providing means of atonement for transgression” (Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism 75; italics added).
Consequently, according to Sanders, covenant preceded commandment in ancient Judaism, and the commandments were obeyed so those already in the covenant might remain in the covenant (Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism 420). Thus, Sanders avers:
The frequent Christian charge against Judaism, it must be recalled, is not that some individual Jews misunderstood, misapplied and abused their religion, but that Judaism necessarily tends towards petty legalism, self-serving and self-deceiving casuistry, and a mixture of arrogance and lack of confidence in God. But the surviving Jewish literature is as free of these characteristics as any I have ever read. By consistently maintaining the basic framework of covenantal nomism, the gift and demand of God were kept in a healthy relationship with each other, the minutiae of the law were observed on the basis of the large principles of religion and because of commitment to God, and humility before God who chose and would ultimately redeem Israel was encouraged (Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism 427; italics added).
For Sanders, then, Palestinian Judaism was not the legalistic religion that has frequently appeared in Protestant, New Testament scholarship.2 Instead, during the New Testament period, Judaism itself was grounded on the gracious act of God in choosing Israel to be his people.
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