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Reading Acts Series on the New Perspective on Paul

Reading Acts Series on the New Perspective on Paul

I’ve written a bit about this before, but it’s hardly my main area of expertise.

Philip J. Long has written a very nice introductory series on the New Perspective on Paul. Here are the links:

Basics of the New Perspective –

I link to this in detail because I think it is one of the best short introductions I’ve read, and it’s available right her in blog form. I am frequently asked for a short version of just what is the New Perspective on Paul. Now I have something easily available that I can recommend.

Righteousness of God Redux

Righteousness of God Redux

Just over three years ago I wrote a bit about the New Perspective on Paul, and particularly the interpretation of the righteousness of God in 2 Corinthians 5:21. I would still call my understanding of this a work in progress. There are many things I should read and assimilate yet.

At the moment, however, I’m working my way through the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament volume on James and I came across this same phrase in James 1:20. The authors comment:

… when James talks about the “righteousness of God” … he may mean something quite different than Paul’s characteristic subjective genitive (“the righteousness produced by God”; cf. Ro 1:17; 3:5, 21, 22, 25, 26; 10:3; 2Co 5:21; Php 3:9). Here the genitive “of God” … seems objective, because James is insisting that human wrath does not create the righteousness that can be offered or directed to God, the righteousness that we are called to live out on earth and that he demands from his followers (86, Greek text left out).

Now “may mean something quite different” is not an extremely strong statement, but if Wright is correct on the meaning of “righteousness of God” in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (and I have correctly understood him), “covenant faithfulness” might work quite well on both sides. God’s righteousness is his covenant faithfulness, and the righteousness to be produced in us is also faithfulness to the covenant. Thus we can “become” the righteousness of God, or become the bearers of God’s covenant faithfulness in the world, and that righteousness can be produced in us. The theology of James and Paul would not, on this point at least, be as far apart as often assumed.

I would add the note that in either case, we should not be talking about human-produced righteousness. James 1:5, receiving God’s wisdom, should be as clear on that point as are the many statements by Paul regarding righteousness by faith. I have been impressed in my current study of James with the parallels between receiving God’s wisdom and receiving the Spirit. I might write a few notes on that later.

New Perspective on Paul and the Book of Hebrews

New Perspective on Paul and the Book of Hebrews

Nijay Gupta has a short interview with Gordon Fee regarding his new commentary on Galatians (HT).  Since I have an extremely high regard for Gordon Fee’s work in general, and for his commentary on 1 Corinthians (which I cite frequently) in particular, I’m certainly planning to get my hands on a copy of his work on Galatians.

As a completely undeveloped, unresearched, and unreconsidered thought, I wonder if anyone has written anything related to the relationship of the New Perspective on Paul to the theology and potentially even the authorship of Hebrews.  I personally find the language differences fairly compelling on the authorship of Hebrews, and have always found the argument based on theology less than compelling, but it sounds to me like the reading of Galatians based on the New Perspective is closer to the theology of Hebrews than a more traditional reading of Paul.  Specifically, in Hebrews, Jesus Christ becomes the fundamental law or the core of the Christian’s belief and action rather than the Torah.

Now please bear with me.  I could decide in five minutes that the paragraph above is way off track, though more likely I’ll take longer than that to think about it.  But it seems that even if this did not bring one to believe Paul himself wrote the book, it might strengthen claims a Pauline genetic connection with the book and thus more strongly favor an author who sat under Paul’s teaching, as is already suggested.

In any case, I’d be interested in any research along these lines, especially available on the internet, but also in any recent/forthcoming commentaries.  It’s about time for me to run through Hebrews again with a good commentary!