Paul Then and Now— Part Six

Paul Then and Now— Part Six January 18, 2023

Q. A long time ago, in the 70s I took Romans at Harvard Div School with Krister Stendahl. It was really fascinating, and I agreed with a good deal of what he was teaching about Luther getting some important things wrong, and unfortunately encouraging anti-Judaism and even anti-Semitism to some extent. And I agreed that retrospective Western and Lutheran readings of Paul often projected into Paul something that was not there. But I did not agree at all with the notion of two tracks of salvation, one through keeping the Mosaic covenant and the other through faith in Christ (see also Gager etc.)  This made no sense to me in light of texts like Gal. 3.28, and clear statements that Jew and Gentile united in Christ is what Paul was plumping for—not Jew and Gentile united in Judaism.  Say a little more about your view of Stendahl’s famous retrospective consciousness of the West seminal article and its implications.


A. Stendahl’s 1963 “The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West” is an outstanding essay, in my view, one of those that well deserves its status as a classic. But Stendahl does not argue for “two tracks of salvation” in that essay, or anywhere else, in fact. Some of his comments in his 1976 “Paul among Jews and Gentiles” can perhaps be, and sometimes have been, read to suggest such a thing. But in his 1995 Final Account, Stendahl expressly rejects a “two tracks of salvation” interpretation of Paul. My own view in my book, which has some points of commonality with Stendahl, is that Paul thinks all people are rightwised (“justified”) through the messiah—Jews obviously, gentiles surprisingly thanks to God’s mercy—and that all people thus rightwised will of course be preserved (“saved”) through the day of wrath. The “two tracks of salvation” hypothesis emerges in Gaston and Gager, especially, and it is worthy of discussion and debate, but I, like Stendahl and yourself, have not been persuaded by it.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

Close Ad