Frank Matera, in his Galatians commentary (SP) writes that the alleged calm between Protestants and Catholics on Galatians has been broken by the New Perspective on Paul. He says: “[A] new storm has broken upon the Galatian sea, a storm so powerful that it is tossing both Tridentine and Reformation ships, laden with their traditional exegesis of Galatians, to and fro” (p. 27).
That is a nifty way to put it, but I wouldn’t go with Matera when he says that the problem that Paul was responding to was a social problem. I think it clear that the social and soteric go together. At the end of the day, Paul is arguing that Gentiles do not have to become “Jews” in order to become “Christians.” But if entrance into Judaism means entrance into a covenant with blessings, promises, identity, and salvation, then it is entrance into a salvific state. That is why I coined the term “ethnocentric nomism” to describe the view that Paul was opposing. As such, “works of the law” is not works done in a legalistic spirit, nor simply boundary markers; rather, it is the Jewish way of life codified in the Torah; and it is the way to righteousness and life.