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Question about the New Perspective on Paul

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  • Question about the New Perspective on Paul

    We've been studying the New Perspective on Paul in my New Testament class. My professor is a proponent. He holds that Paul believed the Mosaic law was still binding on Jewish Christians, and that he held to the law himself. Is this the usual stance for New Perspective proponents? (Does, say, N.T. Wright hold to this?)
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

  • #2
    Source: PFG

    In the light of this, and of Paul’s own insistence that he took what he calls the ‘strong’ position, I find myself in agreement with those who have maintained that Paul did not himself continue to keep the kosher laws, and did not propose to, or require of, other ‘Jewish Christians’ that they should, either (359).

    Paul’s revising of the Jewish symbol of Torah in terms of food and table- fellowship, then, was clear, if necessarily complex. First, all those who belong to the Messiah, and are defined by Messiah-faithfulness and baptism, belong at the same table: this, as we shall see, is a constitutive part of his most central new positive symbol. Second, Messiah-followers are free to eat whatever they wish, with that freedom curtailed only (but strongly) when someone else’s ‘weak’ conscience is endangered. Third, Messiah-followers are free to eat ordinary meals with anyone they like, but not with someone who professes to be one of the family but whose behaviour indicates otherwise. Fourth (an extra but important point), Messiah-followers are not free to go into a pagan temple and eat there. To do so would be to stage a contest with the lord himself. All this is not just ‘ethics’. It is a matter of a freshly crafted symbolic universe (361).

    © Copyright Original Source



    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscr...t-did-paul-do/

    Comment


    • #3
      I will give this a try, though I haven't focused on the broad NPP issues.

      EP Sanders originally said that based on 2nd century Jewish writings that Paul's Christianity didn't differ from that 2nd century description of Judaism. The essential thing he presented was that both groups relied on the same formula of grace plus works. Sanders essentially was countering the NT scholars who had found, and argued with use, the 2nd century writings as showing a legalistic works-oriented focus among Jews in their effort to be justified before God.

      Many scholars then tried to find another basis for Paul's promotion of faith in Christ over against works of the law. I think then Krister Stendahl's "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West" became the grounds for many scholars to look at Paul's writing not as describing individual's way of salvation but rather as the justification of groups.

      Wright focused on the idea of righteousness being based on one's participation and adherence to the 'group.' Wright then seems to build a whole interpretative system about this focus on group righteousness. But he doesn't seem to require works as a requirement but rather these are evidence.

      Dunn sees the works of the law as an issue of boundary markers. He therefore tends to interpret the works of the law as being promoted by Jews who were trying to still maintain their own distinction as Jews, distinct from gentiles who now followed the Jewish Messiah. I'm not sure what Dunn sees of the Jewish laws themselves.

      These interpretive frameworks begin to allow other scholars to propose, to various degrees, that the Jewish law is still active or pertinent. Although old Paul advocates sometimes have also described a continuation of the Jewish laws ( usually abridged with ideas of segregating the law into ceremonial, priestly and moral laws) such continuation in the NPP has even been promoted (e.g. by John Gager, I think) to the point of saying that Jews could continue in their pre-Messianic form of worship (and obedience) while gentiles were to come to God through the Messianic path.

      I'm not sure which NPP scholars actually advocate, as part of NPP, a continued obedience to the law of Moses. But we can see how Dunn, for one, has opened an avenue for proponents of Jewish laws to envision these laws applying to gentiles.

      Comment


      • #4
        Here's a thought in a different direction...

        We mainly see discussion of the role of the Jewish law among gentiles who were in the Messianic sect of Judaism. Not as many, if any, scholarly studies (NPP or otherwise) seem to address the relevance of Jewish laws for the Jewish followers of Christ. To some degree Gal 2 and Acts 15 show that Jewish followers of Christ still could be adhering to the such laws. We likely find in this scenario a dynamic set of doctrines which narrowly applied to Jewish believers of the first century. They may have necessarily continued in a dual participation both in the sacrificial temple practices as well as in participation in Christ-focused actions. It is possible that they nonetheless could have shed themselves of Jewish traditions beyond the requirements of the law of Moses.

        I would not figure that Paul saw a need, at least for his own situation, to practice the Jewish laws.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mikewhitney View Post
          They may have necessarily continued in a dual participation both in the sacrificial temple practices as well as in participation in Christ-focused actions. It is possible that they nonetheless could have shed themselves of Jewish traditions beyond the requirements of the law of Moses.
          One example of a sort of dual participation (though excluding the sacrificial temple practices) might have been Paul's Nazarite vow in Acts 18 (I know some hold that it was not a Nazarite vow but this seems to be the majority view). This was upheld by my professor as an example of Paul following the Jewish law in toto; I found this argument to be weak, and the framework you suggest here provides a perfectly reasonable justification.

          The book of Hebrews seems (to me, at least) to indicate that some Jewish Christians were participating in temple sacrifices, against the wishes of the apostolic author of the book.
          "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

          Comment


          • #6
            http://www.google.co.in/search?q=qmm...AcebuQS-vIHgCA

            Quote
            There is a final point in which the parallel between MMT and Paul needs to be nuanced and modified. MMT presupposed obedience to the biblical Torah itself, and added extra commands as a further interpretation of how precisely one should keep Torah. Paul, by placing ‘faith’ at the crucial point of community definition, clearly intends that neither possession nor practice of either Torah itself or particular sectarian halakhoth would be of any importance in defining the eschatological coven ant community. For Paul, in other words, faith is not something which is simply added on to existing Torahobservance; it supplants Torahimportance. At the same time, as Romans 3.31, 8.3observance, denying it any 7 and other passages indicate, Paul does believe that when someone exhibits this faith, that person is in fact fulfilling the Torah in an extended or theological sense, even though he or she may [123] written Torah itself. This is exactly the point of Romans 10.5neither possess nor observe the 10. parallel holds between the ‘works’ co 42 At this level, the structural mmanded in MMT and the faith sought by Paul: both provide the key interpretative grid which explains what Torah really wanted. The fact that in the one case ordinary Torahtension wi observance is presupposed, and in the other it is not required, stands in th this parallel, a tension to be explained exactly by the difference between MMT’s and Paul’s visions of the new community and the events through which it was founded.

            Comment


            • #7
              Ah. I have not taken Hebrews into account in my analysis. I would have to review Hebrews with possible changes to my analysis.

              One thing vital here is that Paul found actions acceptable where gentiles followed the Jewish dietary and holiday laws (Rom 14) as somewhat of a crutch, an uncertainty how far they could veer from the Jewish laws they had first learned (in the Messianic-accommodating synagogues in Rome). The problem is when they sought to follow the laws in order to be justified by them.

              The Jewish believers might still have adhered to Jewish customs (partly as being their comfort zone, partly for evangelism's sake, and possibly with an obligation to the narrower law of Moses) while recognizing that the laws were not their manner of obtaining justification.

              Generally the problem addressed in Hebrews appears to be that Jewish followers of Christ had, in significant numbers, forsook the assembly as followers of Christ. Maybe also many had become uncertain about the outcome of their faith through Christ. The letter was instruction to encourage each other and persevere in the faith. I don't remember anything of Hebrews suggesting they had become reliant on sacrifices. But it seemed they had to be reminded that the sacrifice of Christ was sufficient. If they had such awareness, I wouldn't think there would be any harm in continued action in accord with the law of Moses. For them there never would have been a drawback for conforming to the prescriptions of the Mosaic law.

              One thing that often seems to be missed... The scriptures showed that judgment would come upon Jerusalem. People's hearts were, at a point in time, going to be far from God yet the people still would be speaking as if God were central to them. Jesus mentioned this prophecy. He also expressed that they followed the traditions of man over against the laws from God. Instead of justification, the law brought wrath (Rom 4:15). As such the law could not continue into the new era.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                Source: PFG

                In the light of this, and of Paul’s own insistence that he took what he calls the ‘strong’ position, I find myself in agreement with those who have maintained that Paul did not himself continue to keep the kosher laws, and did not propose to, or require of, other ‘Jewish Christians’ that they should, either (359).

                Paul’s revising of the Jewish symbol of Torah in terms of food and table- fellowship, then, was clear, if necessarily complex. First, all those who belong to the Messiah, and are defined by Messiah-faithfulness and baptism, belong at the same table: this, as we shall see, is a constitutive part of his most central new positive symbol. Second, Messiah-followers are free to eat whatever they wish, with that freedom curtailed only (but strongly) when someone else’s ‘weak’ conscience is endangered. Third, Messiah-followers are free to eat ordinary meals with anyone they like, but not with someone who professes to be one of the family but whose behaviour indicates otherwise. Fourth (an extra but important point), Messiah-followers are not free to go into a pagan temple and eat there. To do so would be to stage a contest with the lord himself. All this is not just ‘ethics’. It is a matter of a freshly crafted symbolic universe (361).

                © Copyright Original Source



                http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscr...t-did-paul-do/
                This is good, but I take issue with #4 in light of 1Cor. 8:

                1Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.4Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

                7However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scrawly View Post
                  This is good, but I take issue with #4 in light of 1Cor. 8:

                  1Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.4Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

                  7However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
                  This refers to eating meat that may have originally been sacrificed, which was probably the majority of meat that eventually ended up on market in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 10:21 is an explicit warning against eating at actual pagan ceremonies. The meat itself is not tainted, but the ceremony is.
                  "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What about 1Cor. 8:10: "For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple.."?
                    Last edited by Scrawly; 04-14-2015, 09:14 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Scrawly View Post
                      This is good, but I take issue with #4 in light of 1Cor. 8:
                      I've read some of Wright's exegesis before in preparation for a long debate with Sam but I'm not prepared to defend it now.

                      Just one thing for the moment: you can't just read 1 Cor 8 or 1 Cor 10. 1 Cor 8-10, yes, even chapter nine, make up the complete complex argument with many subtleties and you have to deal with the whole.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                        I've read some of Wright's exegesis before in preparation for a long debate with Sam but I'm not prepared to defend it now.

                        Just one thing for the moment: you can't just read 1 Cor 8 or 1 Cor 10. 1 Cor 8-10, yes, even chapter nine, make up the complete complex argument with many subtleties and you have to deal with the whole.
                        There is also the issue of Revelation 2:14. Some hold this to mean that Revelation had a different opinion on the matter than Paul, but I prefer Gordon Fee's interpretation. He argues that the Greek in Revelation 2:14 seems to point to actual attendance at pagan ceremonies.
                        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Wright seems to be infraction of the law of non contradiction. You know, the situation where he defends a position strongly, within a certain context, and in another discussion, he contradicts the position.

                          Here he defends the law:

                          http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_New_Perspectives.htm

                          Quote
                          I am fascinated by the way in which some of those most conscious of their reformation heritage shy away from Paul�s clear statements about future judgment according to works. It is not often enough remarked upon, for instance, that in the Thessalonian letters, and in Philippians, he looks ahead to the coming day of judgment and sees God�s favourable verdict not on the basis of the merits and death of Christ, not because like Lord Hailsham he simply casts himself on the mercy of the judge, but on the basis of his apostolic work. �What is our hope and joy and crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus Christ at his royal appearing? Is it not you? For you are our glory and our joy.� (1 Thess. 3.19f.; cp. Phil. 2.16f.) I suspect that if you or I were to say such a thing, we could expect a swift rebuke of �nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling�. The fact that Paul does not feel obliged at every point to say this shows, I think, that he is not as concerned as we are about the danger of speaking of the things he himself has done � though sometimes, to be sure, he adds a rider, which proves my point, that it is not his own energy but that which God gives and inspires within him (1 Cor. 15.10; Col. 1.29). But he is still clear that the things he does in the present, by moral and physical effort, will count to his credit on the last day, precisely because they are the effective signs that the Spirit of the living Christ has been at work in him. We are embarrassed about saying this kind of thing; Paul clearly is not. What on earth can have happened to a sola scriptura theology that it should find itself forced to screen out such emphatic, indeed celebratory, statements?

                          Here he opposes the law:

                          Quote
                          “‘Works of the law’ cannot justify, because God has re-defined his people through the faithfulness of the Messiah” (Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision, pg118).


                          http://www.amazon.com/Justification-.../dp/0830838635

                          What purpose did the law serve in the life of the believer and where is it applied? Before salvation, after salvation? In justification, in sanctification?

                          In the Covenant of Law, in the Covenant of Grace?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by footwasher View Post
                            Wright seems to be infraction of the law of non contradiction. You know, the situation where he defends a position strongly, within a certain context, and in another discussion, he contradicts the position.

                            Here he defends the law:

                            http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_New_Perspectives.htm

                            Quote
                            I am fascinated by the way in which some of those most conscious of their reformation heritage shy away from Paul�s clear statements about future judgment according to works. It is not often enough remarked upon, for instance, that in the Thessalonian letters, and in Philippians, he looks ahead to the coming day of judgment and sees God�s favourable verdict not on the basis of the merits and death of Christ, not because like Lord Hailsham he simply casts himself on the mercy of the judge, but on the basis of his apostolic work. �What is our hope and joy and crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus Christ at his royal appearing? Is it not you? For you are our glory and our joy.� (1 Thess. 3.19f.; cp. Phil. 2.16f.) I suspect that if you or I were to say such a thing, we could expect a swift rebuke of �nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling�. The fact that Paul does not feel obliged at every point to say this shows, I think, that he is not as concerned as we are about the danger of speaking of the things he himself has done � though sometimes, to be sure, he adds a rider, which proves my point, that it is not his own energy but that which God gives and inspires within him (1 Cor. 15.10; Col. 1.29). But he is still clear that the things he does in the present, by moral and physical effort, will count to his credit on the last day, precisely because they are the effective signs that the Spirit of the living Christ has been at work in him. We are embarrassed about saying this kind of thing; Paul clearly is not. What on earth can have happened to a sola scriptura theology that it should find itself forced to screen out such emphatic, indeed celebratory, statements?

                            Here he opposes the law:

                            Quote
                            “‘Works of the law’ cannot justify, because God has re-defined his people through the faithfulness of the Messiah” (Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision, pg118).


                            http://www.amazon.com/Justification-.../dp/0830838635

                            What purpose did the law serve in the life of the believer and where is it applied? Before salvation, after salvation? In justification, in sanctification?

                            In the Covenant of Law, in the Covenant of Grace?
                            Where is the contradiction? In the first quote, he is not speaking of works of the law. In the second, you're providing a single sentence sans context, which refers to works of the law.
                            Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

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                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                              Where is the contradiction? In the first quote, he is not speaking of works of the law. In the second, you're providing a single sentence sans context, which refers to works of the law.
                              The contention that the phrase "works of the law" applied only to the ceremonial laws that served as badges of Jewish identity is unfounded, as the following article argues:

                              http://www.theologian.org.uk/doctrine/hesitation.html

                              Quote

                              In any case, Dunn’s suggestion about the meaning of “works of the law” is by no means a new suggestion, as he appears to think. The traditional doctrine of justification often interacts with a view that sees “works of the law” as referring only to works of the ceremonial law, or to distinctly “Jewish” works.»68 This view can be traced back to Pelagius, who argued that ceremonial works are excluded by Paul, but not moral works, thus relying on that old distinction between civil, ceremonial and moral law.»69 The purpose of this is in Pelagius is to reintroduce some element of works into justification: to allow moral works to count before God while explaining Paul’s allergy to “works of the law.” Calvin calls this view “an ingenious subterfuge” which, regardless of its long pedigree is “utterly silly.” He spends some time discussing it but concludes: “Even schoolboys would hoot at such impudence. Therefore, let us hold as certain that when the ability to justify is denied to the law, these words refer to the whole law.” Calvin tries to explain why Paul speaks occasionally of “works of the law” instead of “works” generally: even legalists, he says, would only give such weight to works which had the “testimony and vouchsafing of God” behind them (i.e. those written in God’s own Law).»70 Calvin is also not unaware of the fact that these ritual-ceremonial laws functioned as “badges” to exclude the Gentiles.»71

                              Turretin also interacts with this view of “works of the law” which Dunn suggests. He points out that if the socially-excluding ceremonial law alone was to be excluded, then justification would have been ascribed to the moral law, which it never is. Using the New Testament he shows that ceremonial works brought with them the obligation to fulfil the whole Law of Moses - and so Paul had opposed them because of this larger implication. Other people interact with this sort of view as well, including James Buchanan»72 and John Owen, who claims to show “the vanity of that pretence.”»73 The Reformed consensus on the subject is that “works of the law” includes all works generally.»74 This is not a mere assumption but a well thought-through conclusion reached in dialogue with an opposing opinion which saw “works of the law” as specifically ceremonial or distinctively “Jewish.” Dunn appears to be unaware of just how much thinking has been done on this precise issue over the past few centuries.

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