Further evidence that apocalypticism and salvation history cannot be played off against each other in Paul’s letters, this time from N.T. Wright on Galatians:
“There is a current fashion in Pauline studies of playing off ‘covenantal’ categories against ‘apocalyptic’ ones. Since I have myself stressed the importance of ‘covenant’ in Paul, let it be said here, and back up by the argument of this essay, that I believe in the essential apocalyptic nature of Paul’s covenantal theology, and vice versa. ‘Apocalyptic’, rightly understood, is not about the destruction of everything that happened before Jesus and the ushering in of a totally new world. it is about the new creation breaking into the old. Paul speaks at the start of Galatians about the rue god ‘rescuing us from the present evil age’ (1.4), and at the close of the letter about thew ‘new creation’ which was the only thing that mattered, over against the questions of circumcision and uncircumcision (6.15). This cosmic and apocalyptic vision, however, is in no way antithetical to covenant theology rightly understood, or at least Paulinely understood … the real ‘apocalypse has taken place in the resurrection of the Messiah Jesus (compare Gal 1.13); but that event can only be understood, and its significance elaborated, thorugh an exploration of the Abrahamic covenant (Galatians 3-4). What has been left behind in the revelatio nof the new world thorugh the gospel is not covenant theology itself, but the restriction of covenant membership to ‘those of the Torah’. ”
N.T. Wright, “Gospel and Theology in Galatians,” in Gospel in Paul: Studies on Corinthians, Galatians and Romans for Richard N. Longenecker, eds. L. Ann Jervis and P. Richardson (JSNTSup 108; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), 237.