Book Notice: David Starling – Not My People: Gentiles as Exiles in Pauline Hermeneutics

Book Notice: David Starling – Not My People: Gentiles as Exiles in Pauline Hermeneutics April 17, 2012

David I. Starling
Not My People: Gentiles as Exiles in Pauline Hermeneutics
BZNW 184; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2001.
Read parts at Google Books.

Available at

David Starling, Lecturer in NT at Morling College in Sydney, writes on the theme of Gentiles as exiles in Pauline hermeneutics. Specifically, Starling examines the use of the OT in several key Pauline texts including Gal 4.27, 2 Cor 6.161-8, Rom 9.25-26, and Eph 2.17.  Primary points of concern are the relationship between the inclusion of the Gentiles and salvation by grace in Paul’s theology, as well as the extent and nature of the continuities between Paul’s gospel and Israel’s Scriptures.

He identifies in these key passages a hermeneutical framework in which readers are encouraged to see the scriptural texts against a wider horizon of a salvation-historical story of Israel derived from Torah-narrative and prophetic eschatology. The Gentile believers’ incorporation into Christ and their experience of the Spirit makes them participants in the scriptural promises. The depiction of Israel’s history under the law as one of death and condemnation creates a disjunction between Israel of the Mosaic covenant and Israel of the restoration with a close equivalence to present Israel and Gentile believers.

The Gentiles as exiles motif operates differently in the various texts. In Gal 4.27, the uncircumcised Gentile believers are children of the restored Jerusalem on the basis of faith in the promises of God and received by faith. In 2 Cor 6.16-18, Paul typologically views exiles as those at the dawn of the return from exile and striving to separate from paganism. In Rom 9.25-26, Gentile believers become vessels of Gods’ mercy by way of the equivalence of Hosea’s “not my people” with the unfaith Israel addressed in Hosea. Finally, in Eph 2.17, the Gentiles are those “far off” who come into the Isaianic promises of restoration.

An implication that Starling finds is that the sharp disjunction between the law of Moses and Paul’s gospel is not a tension of Paul’s own making, but rests on the tension in Israel’s scripture unconditional promise and covenantal obligation. He writes: “Paul encourages his readers to find within Scripture not only a tension between the Abrahamic promise and the demands of the Mosaic law but also between the effect of the Mosaic law within Israel’s history and the promises held out to Israel in the eschatology of the prophets and the closing chapters of Deuteronomy” (p. 210).

Quite a good read on Pauline hermeneutics and soteriology.

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