N.T. Wright’s Galatians– Part Thirteen

N.T. Wright’s Galatians– Part Thirteen July 18, 2021

Q. As for the phrase ‘works of the Law’ and 4QMMT the latter says ‘these are some of the works of the Law’ so it does not identify the boundary rituals, circumcision, food laws, sabbath keeping, by a delimiting term ‘works of the law’, nor do I think Paul does that. Yes, he is talking about the boundary rituals in Galatians, but for Paul ‘dying to the Mosaic law’ or the Redeemer redeeming Jews out from under the Mosaic covenant is in play. The new covenant is not merely a renewal or as M. Kinzer has put it, a supplement to the Mosaic one. It is especially telling in Gal. 6 where Paul expounds a couple of sayings of Jesus and applies them to his audience under the banner of ‘the law of Christ’. The new covenant includes: 1) some repurposing of Mosaic commandments, 2) the teachings of Jesus, 3) some new apostolic teaching. Christ has fulfilled the Mosaic covenant, and in Gal. 4 Paul will link the new covenant with the Abrahamic one, in contrast to the Mosaic one. This being the case, ‘works of the Law’ means simply obligations of the Mosaic covenant, and sometimes the focus is on the boundary rituals. How would you respond?

A. IN 4QMMT (see my essay on that in Pauline Perspectives the ‘some works of Torah’ is indicating the boundary markers which delimit the true Jews at Qumran from other Jews with whom they disagree. They are still boundary markers but it’s a different boundary. For Paul the erga nomou are the things which mark out the Jew from pagan neighbours. I’m not sure it’s helpful here to talk about ‘new covenant’ as that kind of framework. Clearly, yes, some of Mosaic commandments are reinforced or repurposed, and yes, the teaching of Jesus, esp law of love, is highlighted for Jesus’ people. But I don’t see any of Paul’s uses of erga nomou which are general ‘Mosaic obligations’ . . .

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