N.T. Wright. The Paul Debate: Critical Questions for Understanding the Apostle. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2015. Pp. xi + 110. ISBN: 978-1-4813-0417-7. $34.95 [Hardback]. Reviewed by: Shawn J. Wilhite. In the past year and a half, many have read, … Continue reading
Dunn, J.D.G. “A New Perspective on the New Perspective on Paul.” Early Christianity 4, no. 2 (2013): 157–82.
J.D.G. Dunn provides a helpful clarification on the scope and intent of the New Perspective on Paul. In his words, he is providing a new and fresh ‘perspective’ on the New Perspective movement, a term he coined in 1982.
The predominant critique of traditional views on the NPP corresponds to changing language about justification, different portraits of Judaism, the role of judgment and works, and others. However, Dunn clarifies, from his viewpoint, the difference is not merely due to one position being “right” and the other “wrong”. So, it is not that NP is “right” and the traditional view is “wrong”, or the NP is wholly antithetical to the traditional view.
Over the past two months I have been slowly engaging Paul and the Faithfulness of God, the newest edition to N.T. Wright’s Christian Origins and the Question of God series. It was an enjoyable read; it was a fruitful read; and, of course, it was a frustrating read. But nonetheless, this book is very helpful for those involved in Pauline Theology, Biblical Theology, and 2nd-Temple literature.
Fortress Press kindly allowed me to review it. Below is the full the review.
Also, Books at a Glance Published this too (Peer Reviewed—Fred Zaspel and Jarvis Williams). Please see here.
I’m currently reviewing Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Vol. 4 in N.T. Wright’s Christian Origins and the Question of God, for Fortress Press. To say the least, Wright is changing the scene of NT studies and has been doing so for some time now. His erudite and winsome prose make 1700+ pages pass with ease.
I find myself at times reading with pen in hand and notes beside me with an inability to capture all my thoughts and questions and insights he brings to the table. There are other times I find myself adding up mathematical equations that are bit odd to me (e.g., 1+2 = 4). I see what he’s saying, but I’m don’t see how it adds up to what he says.
In preparation for the SBTS Greek Reading Group (Click here and here for more details), I wrote a basic introduction highlighting elementary information about the Didache. Over the past two weeks, I have been posting portions of that text. Here is the final post of Didache introduction. Later this week, there will be a list of bibliographic resources.
For more information about the Didache reading group email swilhite at sbts dot edu
I may be in the minority in this, but the following arguments claim a 1st or 2nd generation date (AD80–AD100) after the composition of three Gospels (Matt, Mark, Luke) and Pauline literature because there are a few places in the Didache where there appear to be Pauline influence. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts (either in agreement or disagreement).
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Date and Place
Modern scholarship is divided on dating the Didache. Some opt for an early date, thereby depicting a primitive church; while others prefer a late date, consequently having the Didache portray an archaic faction. It was assumed that the Didache dated from AD 80 to AD 100 prior to any historical investigation. Until 1912, no real solution to dating the Didache had been provided and is still contested.
I am aiming to publish this article. Therefore, I’ve taken the majority of this article down. If you read this entry, keep in mind it may “sound” choppy due to eliminating the majority of my argument. I am wanting to maintain my introduction and conclusions for multiple reasons. First, I’d like to whet the appetite of those engaging eschatological language, persecution, and biblical theology. Second, for those desiring to pursue kingdom of God studies or sources for the Thessalonian epistles, I’ve maintained by bibliography to assist those researching. Finally, I desire readership and limiting the paper to the introduction and conclusion makes readership more feasible.
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Introduction: The Need for Changing Eschatological Language
Some elements of the future eschaton are making headway into the present era. Evaluating modern consensus, eschatology reveals hermeneutical and theological presuppositions in attempting to describe the already/not-yet tension. Problematic to the discussion resides in determining what elements are future and what elements are present. Are some elements fulfilled now, implying no substantial change/modification will happen later? Furthermore, if nascent elements appear now, is there progressive development throughout the present era, if any?
Jörg Frey provides a helpful overview of the historical development of eschatological language. The landscape of scholarship demonstrates eschatological doctrine, but Philipp Heinrich Friedlieb, a classical Lutheran dogmatician, introduces “Eschatology” to designate the “last things”. In 1644, he published a work with Eschatologia as part of a book title. This title was first used as a systematic description of “death, the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, the end or dissolution of the world, about hell or eternal death, and finally, about eternal life.” By strictly limiting few future-referent elements to this title, it is no wonder the subsequent history of eschatological interpretation has vacillated; it is difficult to include all necessary theological categories under the single umbrella “eschatology.”
Jörg Frey, in the “New Testament Eschatology—an Introduction: Classical Issues, Disputed Themes, and Current Perspectives”, describes the past 200 years of eschatological discussion and its academic difficulties within critical scholarship. His description is four-fold: 1. The Term ‘Eschatology’ and the confusion of theological Language; 2. The Deconstruction of Eschatology in the Modern Debate: From Reimarus to Schweiter and Bultmann; 3. Crucial Issues and Questionable Categories, and; 4. Concluding Perspectives.
Frey provides a history of interpretation, though brief, of how scholars (liberal and conservative) have understood eschatology and the issues associated with this discipline. Providing a historical context is so important to see “where we’ve been” and will most likely provide some sort of trajectory of “where we should go.” Pertinent to this history is how eschatology has morphed into two categories of prophetic and apocalyptic-like literature and how Luke 17.21 was, initially, the lens to view the kingdom (“kingdom of God is in your midst”) solely as a present reality.
Theological continuity between the testaments will no doubt create a close relationship between the Church and Israel. Viewing a “big-picture” theological portrait of the testaments, will provide a close relationship between the Church and Israel. I want to propose a continuity of a few theological thoughts that appear early in the OT and frequently reappear in the OT and NT undergoing various modifications. I don’t have another framework to think through, other than “theological modes”. That is, a theological thought will use a vehicle to communicate theology and this theological thought will frequently reappear throughout the testaments but with varying vehicles of communications.
Take for example the “vehicle” of Eden. Eden is viewed as the initial dwelling place of God; Beale, in The Temple and the Mission of the Church, views Eden as the first temple. However, throughout Isaiah and Ezekiel, Eden is subsequently viewed as a place of refreshment for the people of God in Exile as a land far off. Yet it will be the renewed created order (heavens and earth) in the remote future that will provide the fullest expression of Eden-like realities (God’s dwelling place, trees of healing, endless rivers, etc.). Though not fully explained in this small paragraph, Eden initially, as a physical place, also serves as a vehicle of sinless life and possibly an initial temple; the mode changed to refer to a land that would provide refreshment to those in Exile and final culmination with the New Heavens and New Earth.
As stated in the first blog post regarding soteriology, the “in Christ” motif is primarily concerned with soteriology. Though “in Christ” will relate to other systematic categories, salvation and sanctification nuances far outweigh the evidences presented. A plethora of other soteriological elements are involved with the concept of “in Christ”
Redemption as the forgiveness of sins
More often than not, the description of redemption is portrayed or explained along with the idea of “purchasing back” or a ransom. However, the two passages describing the redemption of sinners with “union with Christ,” the idea of ransom is not clearly brought to the forefront. Rather, redemption, in both cases, is further refined to mean “the forgiveness of our trespasses.”
The salvation of mankind is the direct product of God’s election. The electing choice of God was determined prior to the foundation of the world and not bound by foreseen choices but on the basis of His purposes and grace. Yet the concept of “union with Christ” is predominantly seen in relation to an event simultaneous with conversion and rarely seen in relation to the electing purposes of God.
The great Trinitarian discussion, by Paul, in Ephesians 1:3–14 begins with a call to bless God (v.3a). Reasons for the blessings are because God is the one blessing people. As God being described as the blesser, the text follows with three statements to further refine his blessing: “with all spiritual blessings,” “in the heavenly realms,” and “in Christ.” This spiritual blessing is most likely defined by the subsequent benefits of election, sanctification, redemption, being an inheritance for God, and having the Holy Spirit provide the seal for the elect (Eph 1:3–14). All spiritual elements needed are provided through God who blesses us. Moreover, the placement of these blessings is most likely given from “the heavenly realms.” That is, God, who is in heaven (locale), provides the place of disseminating these blessings. However, what is vital for the understanding how to inherit these blessings comes to fruition in the final phrase, “in Christ.” Those who are enjoined to Christ are the direct recipients of blessings of God. Only those united to Christ are the beneficiaries of God’s blessings; as Paul defines, are all spiritual blessings needed for man.