The New Perspective(s) on Paul Begin with EP Sanders

In the mid to late 90s I began to hear traditional, mostly the Reformed with hints of Lutheranism Christian leaders begin to accuse the “new perspective” of weaknesses and in the criticism I was hearing descriptions of what “new perspective on Pau” (NPP) theologians believed — as if the NPP had a systematic theology worked [Read More…]

NT Wright, Paul and His Interpreters, the Cover

The cover of N.T. Wright’s new Paul and His Recent Interpreters, in the English edition (sadly not the USA edition), goes to the heart of the book. Some might not notice that the cover of the book is Rembrandt’s self portrait as the apostle Paul. (Image credit) Rembrandt painting himself as the apostle Paul, think of [Read More…]

N.T. Wright’s Paul — the Short Version

I don’t care how good it is, for many (if not most) pastors I know, N.T. Wright’s mammoth Paul and the Faithfulness of God is still too long. The same is true for many of my professor friends who don’t teach Paul. With the final volume in the set coming out this fall, Paul and His Recent [Read More…]

Performing a Pauline Letter

In a previous post I observed that Paul’s letters were not read by individuals but performed by a reader (or lector). The lector didn’t read a letter of Paul cold on the spot but instead would have been given instructions (by Paul and his co-workers). In fact, it would not have been unusual for the [Read More…]

The Lutheran Paul

I am hard at work on the apostle Paul these days, writing an extensive commentary on Colossians (NICNT), and part of that work means sorting out some of the discussion about Paul. Which means JDG Dunn, NT Wright, D Campbell, B Gaventa, M Gorman, and Stephen Westerholm — and others. Recently I posted how Douglas [Read More…]

A Gospel that Sets Us Free! The Apocalyptic Gospel

In a previous post I grabbed Douglas Campbell’s detailed, analytical outline of what he calls “Justification Theory,” a view of the gospel that is shaped by a kind of merits and credits (though in divine reckoning), and today I want to grab the theory he thinks Paul adhered to, a more liberation gospel, one that [Read More…]

Old Perspective Analytically Examined

Douglas A. Campbell, The Quest for Paul’s Gospel: A Suggested Strategy (2005), 160-162. The first phase: the rigorous contract The opening progression 1 a.     God is omnipotent (and presumably also omnipresent and omniscient). 1 b.      God’s omnipotence is known to everyone from the cosmos without (1a from 1b). 1c.      God is just. [Read More…]

The Conversation Shifts

Since 1977 there has been a regular conversation among those who study the New Testament, especially those studying the theology of the apostle Paul. In 1977 E.P. Sanders published his magisterial Paul and Palestinian Judaism and unleashed forces at work (from G.F. Moore to K. Stendahl) to form what my own professor, James D.G. Dunn, called [Read More…]

What Saint Paul Really Said about Slavery

What we often want Paul to be saying in Philemon, namely set the man free and emancipate him and make a statement about the church and slavery for all the ages, is not enough to cover what Paul was doing. Sarah Ruden, in Paul among the People, looks at slavery and at the same time takes [Read More…]

Subject to Governing Authorities — Paul Again

Those famous words of Paul’s in Romans 13 have not only irritated some to the core of their being (think apartheid) but they have been used by some to sanction most any authority’s moves. Divinely sanctioned authority can run wild, and it has in the church.  The text was a favorite of those who were [Read More…]