Book Notice: Paul’s New Perspective

Garwood P. Anderson
Paul’s New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey
Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2016.
Available at Amazon.com

Back in 2007 I wrote a book called The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies in Paul, Justification, and the New Perspective, where I tried to bring some sanity and sobriety to what was then some very fractious debates about Paul and the New Perspective, plotting a via media if you like. Written as an in-house Reformed debate, I was trying to show how one could hold onto the best of the Reformed tradition, while still embracing the best of the New Perspective. In sum, Reformed theology needed to grasp the social reality within which Paul worked out justification, while NPP advocates needed to be careful not to forget the vertical aspect of Paul’s theology of justification and not reduce it to a social epiphenomenon. Feedback on that book has been very positive and I’m glad to see that I have been acknowledged by many of my peers as moving the discussion along or at least opening up a third option in amidst the either-or debates that characterized the 90s and 00s.

I’m pleased to say that Garwood Anderson, writing out of the Anglo-Catholic tradition, engages in a similar enterprise of trying to plot a cogent and compelling account of Paul by critical synthesizing several perspectives. He deals with N.T. Wright, James Dunn, Doug Campbell, John Barclay, Michael Gorman and others. I cannot emphasize how highly I think of this book. I need not bother doing an updated edition of my own Saving Righteousness because Garwood has done it for me. A must have book for those working in Pauline soteriology.

Otherwise, here is the blurb I wrote:

Garwood Anderson’s study of Paul’s soteriology charts a bold course over the troubled seas of Pauline debate and among darkened clouds of theological dispute. He successfully shows that there is a way forward in the disputes about ‘justification’ and ‘ethnicity’―a way beyond the entrenched dogmatism and intractable polarities that have emerged. Anderson brings us to a peaceful oasis where the treasures of the old and the freshness of the new come together. Among his insights are the multidimensional nature of union with Christ and the overlooked significance of Paul’s sacramental realism for informing this discussion. This book is not the final word in the debate, but it is a good word―one that hopefully moves the discussion about Paul, justification and the New Perspectives along.

 

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