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Exegetical-theological Challenges

Exegetical-theological Challenges

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Exegetical-theological Challenges

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  1. Exegetical-theological Challenges The New Perspective on Pauline Studies (fr. Thomas Schreiner)

  2. Beginnings • E. P. Sanders – Paul and Palistinian Judaism • A new configuration and perspective on 1st century Judaism • Legalistic Judaism a myth • J. did not espouse meritorious righteousness • Instead – “convenantalnomism” keeping the law was to keep their place in covenant with YHWH • Needed corrective OR distortion? • Conflict with Reformers, and Paul in his polemic against Judaism

  3. James Dunn/NT Wright • Both agree with and critique Sanders – did not adequately explain Paul’s theology • Offer a new perspective • Paul did not argue vs legalism or works-R • Justification – is about ecclesiology not salvation • J. is not about how on gets saved, but about who are the people of God • Works do play a role in our salvation • P’s objection- not that the Judaizers were legalistic, but that they were prejudice –excluding Gentiles because they did not keep the law

  4. Comment • The views of Dunn and Wright are at odds with how most view the SitzimLebenbehind letters Galatians, parts of Romans and Php. • What more it calls into question the presentation of the Pharisees in gospels, especially in their demand for Torah obedience. • The New Perspective – critique on (3) issues:

  5. Legalism in 2nd Temple Judaism • Sanders –correction of extreme position – but wrong to say “covenantal nomism” is the exclusive character of STJ • Simon Gathercole cautions those who reject any notion of meritorious works in Jud’m • Presence in Testaments of 12 Patriarchs and T. of Job. • Final vindication according to works • Wsdom of Sol. – a double-sided soteriology – grace and works in tension

  6. Legalism in 2nd Temple Judaism • Markus Bockmuehl – Qumran (Rule of the Comm.) was legalistic: individual choice to be a member and regimented corporate life; but salvation is a gift of divine grace alone. • Gathercole and Andrew Das – one stream of Qumran – does focus on final vindication according to works • Also seen in 1Enoch (parts) • See Apoc. of Zephaniah – works move God to write doers into God’s Book of life; Cf. Ps of Solomon

  7. Conclusion: • “” (T. Schreiner) the point being made here is that Sanders overemphasized the theme of grace in STJ and underemphasized the importance of works. Significant challenges to Sanders’ paradigm have demonstrated that his view does not account of all the evidence in a satisfactory way • See Justification and Variegated Nomism, ed. by Carson, O’Brien and Seifrid – greatly expands the grounds for dissent with Sanders, Dunn and Wright

  8. Legalism in Paul • L. – one’s works are the basis of a right standing with God, so that one could boast in what he has accomplished (Rm 3:27) • Faith excludes boasting – relies on what Christ has done (Rm 3:21-26) • The NP argues that what Paul is addressing is a problem of exclusion of the Gentiles because they do not keep the law. • But Rom 4 present Abr. as one who was accepted not because he worked for God, but because he trusted in God (Gn 15:6)

  9. Legalism in Paul • Rm 4:6-8: David witnesses to R by faith, “apart from works.” • Both Abr and David failed to do what God commanded, so their acceptance is not based on works. • Contra NP: “Paul’s polemic vs works as the basis of salvation must be directed against some who believed that works qualified them to receive the inheritance… were the basis of their right relation with God.”

  10. Legalism in Paul - Galatians • Gal 2:16 – Polemic vs works • 3 times in one vs – works of law and faith in Christ are juxtaposed. • In 3:10-12 – contrast between doing and believing – All who think they can be justified by works are cursed; why? Because they fail to do what God requires • Hab 2:4 – teaches that R with God is obtained not by doing but by believing (3:11) • Works of Law and faith are opposite principles and neither eschatological life nor the inheritance can be achieved by works (3:12-14, 18)

  11. Comments • Exegesis of other key texts (Rm 9:30-10:12, Php 3:2-9) show that Schreiner is right in his analysis – the issue that Paul is correcting is not the exclusion of Gentile, but a mistaken notion of how to be right before God, how to blameless before God (Php 3:6) • There is nothing in the context suggesting boundary markers were being use to exclude Gentiles – an imported SitzimLebento the text.

  12. Obedience and Final Justification • Necessity of O. is not a new legalism – it is work of the Spirit in life of a new creation in Christ….BUT • Saving faith is persevering faith • Saving faith is a faith that works – “the work of faith” in 1Tth 1:3 • Working faith is what God has ordained for the believer (Eph 2:10) • Working faith is the evidence of saving faith • “The imperative is grounded in the indicative of God’s work of grace in Christ. The imperative becomes a reality because of the indicative.”

  13. Conclusion • Schreiner is correct: Contra the NP, works are not necessary to obtain eschatological salvation, but are the inevitable fruit of those who do. • Justification is by grace through faith alone, but for those who are justified their will be a judgment is according to works • “Works and faith are distinguishable but inseparable in Paul, for good works are always the fruit of faith.”