BEN: On p. 352 n. 7, you freely admit that Paul uses rhetorical shorthand from time to time, a shorthand involving the Good News and Christ’s central role in it. Why not see pistis Christou as a parade example of such shorthand? After all, the discussion of the crucifixion and death of Christ and its effects, even on Paul’s body, keeps coming up in this letter? JOHN: I do think pistis Christou is shorthand, but I see it as the… Read more

We still have a few seats left on this wonderful tour of eastern Turkey and Jordan. Below is a link telling you all about it. Ya’ll come. BW3 http://www.tutkutours.com/BIB_Jordan_Eastern_Turkey_May_2016.asp Read more

BEN: Turning now to your discussion of Galatians, I appreciate the way you’ve carefully walked through various landmines in the discussion of this letter and managed to focus on things relevant to your inquiry. I do wonder however about the issue of Judaism as a recognized or licit religion in the Roman Empire in Paul’s day. What I mean by this is, could the appeal to get circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law have been made persuasive if the agitators… Read more

BEN: Chapter 10 is a very helpful summary of the main thrusts of the previous chapters on early Judaism and formulations of grace, with the bonus of a brief direct comparison between Paul’s view and the views in these various other documents. One of the questions that this raises immediately for Christian readers, such as my students at Asbury, is that while it is all very well saying that there were a variety of views of grace in early Judaism,… Read more

BEN: 4 Ezra is one of the most interesting of all early Jewish texts, not least because of its obvious parallels with some NT material in both the Jesus tradition and in Revelation. My first question is— Do you think it possible, or even likely, that the author knew some of the early Jewish Christian material, and is reacting to or co-opting some of it, or would you just attribute the similarities to a shared stream of tradition? JOHN: I… Read more

BEN: Chapters 8 is rather different from the other early Jewish literature you’ve thus far surveyed and it prompts some good questions. Suppose someone were to say to you—‘you’ve demonstrated that grace falls under the category of gift, but it appears you’ve also shown that gift does not necessary fall into the category of grace, at least as usually understood by Christians. By this I mean that the writers of the NT, and Paul in particular, emphasize we are all… Read more

BEN: Let’s talk about Chapter 7. Why did you pick the Hodayot out of all the Qumran material to discuss a theology of gift/grace? JOHN: Well, it is absolutely stuffed full with the language of divine mercy, goodness, and hesed (however we translate that term), so a prime place for examining how Jews talked about ‘grace’. But it is also a very interesting, indeed, extreme, case of the incongruity of this mercy, because the hymns spend a lot of time… Read more

BEN: Let’s talk about Chapter 7. Why did you pick the Hodayot out of all the Qumran material to discuss a theology of gift/grace? JOHN: Well, it is absolutely stuffed full with the language of divine mercy, goodness, and hesed (however we translate that term), so a prime place for examining how Jews talked about ‘grace’. But it is also a very interesting, indeed, extreme, case of the incongruity of this mercy, because the hymns spend a lot of time… Read more

BEN: One of the questions that begins to arise is whether or not the attempt at ‘perfecting’ grace in too many ways at once, leads to exegetical and experiential problems. For example, in the Philo chapter you show how he struggles to reconcile the idea of God’s gracious relationship with Israel with the idea of whether they were worthy or unworthy recipients of God’s election compared to everyone else, with his tending towards the ‘worthy’ idea. The idea of incongruous… Read more

BEN; One of my very favorite early Jewish books is the Wisdom of Solomon. I have argued at some length that it influenced both Jesus and Paul in some of their teachings in my book Jesus the Sage, though I was not focusing on the possible influence on their theologies of grace. Do you see evidence of some influence of Wis. Sol. on Paul’s theology of grace? JOHN: There are well known parallels between Paul (esp Romans 1-2) and Wisdom… Read more

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