Search results for ‘New Perspective on Paul’

‘The New Perspective on Paul’: An Observation

St Paul

Paul is tired of you calling something new that isn’t.

Dear people,  it’s time to stop talking about the ‘new’ perspective on Paul.  It ISN’T anymore.  #CorrectTerminolgyMatters #sblaar

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Posted by on 30 Oct 2013 in Bible


The New Perspective on Paul: What was the Old Perspective?

Good work by Phillip. Very nice indeed.

The New Perspective on Paul: What was the Old Perspective?  Before examining the challenge of the new Perspective on Paul, it is important to have some understanding of what the traditional on Paul view is.  At the foundation of Sanders’ critique of the standard view of Paul is that Luther read Paul through the lens of his own struggle with sin and his battle with the Pelagian / semi-Pelagian Roman Catholic church which claimed one could earn merit before God by preforming good deeds. I will start with th … Read More

via Reading Acts

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Posted by on 28 Aug 2011 in Biblical Studies Resources, Theology


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Graham Tomlin Has Rightly Comprehended Luther, and Paul, and the ‘New Perspective’ Heretics Need to Give Him (Tomlin) A Read

NPP people (all 4 of you) – take a few minutes and read this incredibly intelligent essay by Graham Tomlin.  Here’s his conclusion-

tomlinOff with thee now, to read it all.


Posted by on 10 Apr 2014 in Theology


Registration Is Now Open: Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul, Duke University, Nov 9-10

The registration page is open and you can register for this conference here.

This conference will engage Douglas Campbell’s book, “The Deliverance of God” (Eerdmans, 2009). It will summarize and critically discuss his proposals concerning the modern interpretation of Paul’s justification language, argumentation, and resulting version of the gospel. It will cover broader church historical and theological issues, key questions of close exegesis, and the politics of interpretation, especially in the modern American context.

Hope to see you there.

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Posted by on 18 Sep 2012 in Bible, Conferences


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Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul: A Critical Engagement with Douglas Campbell’s “The Deliverance of God” Duke Divinity School November 9-10, 2012

Via T.J. Lang of Duke U.-

This conference will engage Douglas Campbell’s book, “The Deliverance of God” (Eerdmans, 2009). It will summarize and critically discuss his proposals concerning the modern interpretation of Paul’s justification language, argumentation, and resulting version of the gospel. It will cover broader church historical and theological issues, key questions of close exegesis, and the politics of interpretation, especially in the modern American context.

Scholars, students, ministers, and interested lay people are all welcome to attend.

Conference Format
Each session will focus on a paper, which will be pre-circulated to attendees, and should be read in advance by all attendees. The presenters will summarize the papers at the beginning of each session for 5-10 minutes, and designated respondents can then engage in discussion with the presenters. The chair will then move discussion into plenary. Faculty attending the conference and respondents from other sessions will have priority in plenary.

Respondents will include Stephen Chapman, Susan Eastman, Stanley Hauerwas, Willie Jennings, Warren Smith, and David Steinmetz.

For any further questions, including information about hotels and travel, please contact T.J. Lang.

Visit the link above at the commencement of this post for the schedule and registration information (to be available in the next day or so).  Chris Tilling and I are attending.  If you are, we’d love to see you there and chat- and maybe even catch a meal together.

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Posted by on 11 Sep 2012 in Conferences



Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul: Conference Video and Audio

English: This is a logo for King's College London.
A critically engaging conference based on Douglas Campbell’s book: The deliverance of God.
Held at King’s College London on December 16-17, 2011. This conference included presentation of major papers from Alan Torrance of St. Andrews University, Chris Tilling and David Hilborn of St. Mellitus College, and Douglas Campbell of Duke University. The conference served to critically engage Douglas Campbell’s proposals in The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul.

You can go here and watch sessions and / or listen to audio of the sessions.  With thanks to Chris *the Weirdo* Tilling for telling me about it.

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Posted by on 25 May 2012 in Bible, Conferences


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Conference Announcement: Are the Paulinists Finally Moving Beyond the Hideously Boring ‘Old Perspective v. the New Perspective’ Silliness?

True, that’s not the name of the conference (though to be fair, it should be!).  The Conference is actually titled ‘Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul‘ and my bestie Chris Tilling has all the info.  If you’re in the UK, you’ll want to go!  Seriously! It’s

A two-day conference critically engaging with Douglas Campbell’s proposals in The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul.

It almost didn’t happen so, again, if you want to get the latest (and best) perspective on Paul, this is for you.  Yes, that’s right.  Campbell’s work makes NT Wright’s work on Paul look like it was written by Rick Warren.

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Posted by on 6 Dec 2011 in Bible


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Conference Announcement: Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul

A very exciting conference is coming and Chris Tilling has the info (or as the kids say, the 411) :

I am very excited to announce a conference on Douglas Campbell’s brilliant and controversial book, The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul.  It will take place at King’s College, London, on the 16th-17th December, 2011.  Please click for more details.

If you’re in London, go!

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Posted by on 15 Sep 2011 in Biblical Studies Resources, Conferences


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Hahn Eviscerates the ‘New Pauline Perspective’s’ View of the Law In Just a Few Paragraphs

With many thanks to Ron for transcribing this segment of Hahn’s absolutely brilliant and utterly indispensable New Testament Theology.  He’s right.  Furthermore, Paul had a far better understanding of the notion of the ‘broken covenant’ than many of his modern interpreters do.

I mentioned Hahn’s theology previously and I think it appropriate to commend it again.  It really, really is indispensable.

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Posted by on 8 Mar 2011 in Bible


2 Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter: Towards a New Perspective

Published by Brill

In the 2016 Radboud Prestige Lectures, published in this volume, Jörg Frey develops a new perspective on 2 Peter by arguing that the letter is dependent on the Apocalypse of Peter. Frey argues that reading 2 Peter against the backdrop of the Apocalypse of Peter sheds new light on many longstanding interpretative questions and offers fresh insights into the history of second-century Christianity. Frey’s lectures are followed by responses from leading scholars in the field, who discuss Frey’s proposal in ways both critical and constructive. Contributors include: Richard Bauckham, Jan Bremmer, Terrance Callan, Paul Foster, Jeremy Hultin, Tobias Nicklas, David Nienhuis and Martin Ruf.

If ever there were a theory that hung by a strand of spider web, it is the one proffered by Frey in this volume and in his earlier Commentary on 2 Peter and Jude.  The notion that somehow or other, 2 Peter is reliant upon the Apocalypse of Peter beggers credulity.  That isn’t to suggest that Frey doesn’t try awfully mightily to make it so.  But he cannot.  It simply is not a sensible theory and that, I suspect, is why only a small handful of people hold to it.

The present volume is a wonderful resource for study into the entire question.  Frey sets the agenda with his defensive essay which opens the book and then his like-minded friends muster their arguments for agreeing with Frey.  Accordingly, the contributions of Bremmer, Nicklas, and Callan (who curiously also asserts that Josephus is also somehow a source of 2 Peter), Nienhuis, and Hultin are all in basic agreement with Frey with varying degrees of separation.  The deck, then, is stacked.

Ruf, then

… questions Frey’s (and Grünstäudl’s) account of the literary connection between 2 Peter and the Apocalypse. Ruf is skeptical about the possibility of determining any kind of direct literary connection. In Ruf’s estimation there is a relationship between the two documents, but it is difficult to be more specific than to say that they are engaging in, and contributing to, the same “discourse.”

Foster and Bauckham too are skeptical (to say the least) concerning Frey’s notion of dependence.

Frey gets the last word, of course, and asserts – in quite a friendly manner – the superiority of his point of view in spite of the doubts of three of his interlocutors.

The best argued essay, in my estimation, is that of Ruf.  Towards the end of his essay he observes, quite sagely

Wolfgang Grünstäudl and Jörg Frey highlight the ideas Second Peter shares with Eastern, and particularly Egyptian, literature, while they pay less attention to its western contacts than Bauckham did. Future research will have to ponder both ‘directions’ of literary contacts and find a balance. A thorough methodological, or, rather, criteriological reflection on the categories of literary contacts and their relevance for the determination of the place of origin would be highly desirable.

And that, I think, is the crux of the issue.  It is the old old wondering after which came first, the chicken or the egg.  Frey asserts that the chicken (Apocalypse of Peter) came first and the egg (2 Peter) only later.  But how can he prove this?  And the simplest answer is- he can’t.

He tries, as do his like-minded colleagues.  But he doesn’t succeed.  His web of assertions are attempting to bear too much weight.  They cannot.  And soon, when more weight (in terms of scholarly response to the theories presented here and in his Commentary) is applied to his idea, it will come crashing down.

The second half (leaving aside Frey’s rejoinder) is just the first salvo in the chicken and egg wars.  As such, it deserves your attention and your consideration.  And it also deserves a monograph in response.

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Posted by on 8 Oct 2019 in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources, Book Review, Books, Brill


Jesus: His Life – ‘Serving Old Wine in a New Bottle’

CNN had some guy I’ve never heard of review the first night of the History Channel’s go at Jesus for Easter.  He writes

According to History, the project represents an effort to tell Jesus’ story “in a new way.” Yet “Jesus: His Life” basically feels like a classic example of one of Hollywood’s most familiar pursuits — namely, merely serving old wine in a new bottle.


The producers include author and megachurch pastor Joel Osteen, who is among the various faith leaders interviewed.


Like so many of these dramatic/documentary hybrids, the collision of having these characters “narrate” their experiences, augmented by commentary from experts and academics, doesn’t really work on either score. The running commentary makes it difficult to get caught up in the drama, while the intricate nature of the dramatization introduces a florid element closer to Cecil B. DeMille epics than serious history and scholarship.

Read the rest your own self.  Personally, I’m waiting for Deane to review it.  And though, as I’ve said before of it, I admire the work of Nicola Denzey Lewis, Mark Goodacre, and Candida Moss; the entire genre of ‘bible specials’ that I’ve watched over the years have left me nothing but disappointed and annoyed.  So I’m skipping it.

NB- For a more positive take on the first evening’s fun, Paul Anderson has a piece on Bible and Interpretation.

NNB- A collection of previous ‘Bible Specials’…


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Posted by on 26 Mar 2019 in Reception History


A Multi-part Interview With Matthew Bates on His New Book, Part Three

Note: Previous parts of the series are posted here.

Q –  Your book is very thought provoking. I can imagine that if could have grown exponentially and become quite a large volume. What did you leave out that you now wish you had included?

AServing up regrets? I’ll take four helpings, please. And my book has only been out a couple months, so I’ll probably be back in the buffet line soon. Dessert will follow with a cherry on top.

First, a more thoroughgoing defense of corporate rather than individual election. My sense is that most biblical scholars affirm corporate rather than individual election. So, I felt that there was no real need to defend this view. However, given their large stake in systematics, I should have realized that Calvinist-Reformed theologians would desire more evidence. Presently Reformed theologians are clinging to “both” regarding to individual/corporate election, but the studies showing this is unlikely for late second temple Judaism and early Christianity are multiplying. Since I didn’t include them in the book itself, now I can only point readers to studies such as A. Chadwick Thornhill, The Chosen People; N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God; Brian J. Abasciano, Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9.10-18; “Corporate Election in Romans 9: A Reply to Thomas Schreiner,” JETS 49 (2006), 351-71).

Second, I wish I had given a clearer articulation of how boasting properly fits into a biblical theology of salvation. “Faith,” “grace,” “works” and “boasting” tend to be packaged together in systematic articulations of salvation theory, especially those that want to make Ephesians 2:8-10 the premier statement of how salvation functions. The problem, however, is sixteenth-century rather than first-century understandings of these terms are all too often in play. I worked on the first three, and although the savvy reader of my ch. 5 can probably extrapolate how boasting fits, I didn’t tackle it head-on (see the subsections on “The New Perspective on Paul” and “Works of Law as Rule Performance”). In any case, it must be remembered that Ephesians 2:8-10 is not an articulation of the gospel; that is far too imprecise. Rather the gospel is a specific story about Jesus how Jesus came to be the atoning royal Messiah, the Lord of heaven and earth.

Third, although I think at times this is transparent enough, I wish I had been clearer that my argument really hinges on the presence of the “embodied loyalty” nuance with regard to the pistis word group (not in all passages, just in certain ones). That is, it does not ultimately turn on whether or not “allegiance” (or the like) is the single best translation of pistis or pisteuö in any given passage. My point is that loyalty or allegiance is part of the semantic range of the word pistis, so when we are speaking about Jesus the Christ, it is problematic to evacuate allegiance entirely—which is not quite the same thing as saying allegiance is the best translational choice.

Fourth, I think my articulation of why Abraham was justified by pistis could have been sharper. I’ve sought to nuance that more here []. This is important, I think. So, check it out.

Q – Who has played the most influential part in your theological development?

AUmmh… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because it is tricky to deny God’s causal agency in any of our human endeavors. And because it sounds pious while implicitly asserting that my work is divinely inspired. Just kidding, of course. I only joke because in reality such things are very serious business for me. I am definitely a praying theologian. And I truly do hope that the Lord has helped me by taking the best I could offer and minimizing inevitable errors and follies.

I work at the interface of biblical studies and systematic theology, but my formal training emphasized the former. On the biblical front I was heavily impacted early in my career by Gordon Fee (whom I studied under at Regent College). Beyond Fee, many of the usual suspects could be named, but I’ll single out Justin Martyr and Irenaeus as ancient worthies and N. T. Wright, Richard Hays, Richard Bauckham, Michael Gorman, and David Aune (my Doktorvater) as modern influences. Systematics is a growth area for me. I wish I could tell you that I was cool enough to spend lots of time reading Karl Barth, as that would sound impressive. This past year I’ve enjoyed new offerings by Fred Sanders, Oliver Crisp, Scott Swain, and Kevin Vanhoozer, among others.

Q– The pedagogical thrust of your work shines brilliantly on every page but is especially noticeable in the ‘For Further Thought’ sections at the end of each chapter. If readers have questions about the questions you pose, where would you recommend they find guidance?

AThanks for the compliment. I do hope that individual readers, students, and church groups find the questions stimulating. I did get to test some of them out in the classroom. The questions really vary.

Some questions are more content related and can be answered by re-reading. For example, “Can the grace of the Christ be prior without it involving the eternal predestination of individuals?” And, “How could grace be prior yet still demand actual obedience (including good works) for salvation?” These answers can be found by re-reading a portion of the chapter. For those that want to go deeper, further reading could be undertaken in the literature cited throughout the chapter.

Other questions are more personal or communal. For example, “How does our time-bound status affect our spirituality?” And, “Do you struggle more with the past, present, or future? Why?” The book’s content has bearing on these answers but does not give a direct answer. The reader must seek to synthesize the book with other knowledge/experiences.

Finally, others involve application, “Give at least two specific, practical suggestions that might help your local church (or another congregation that you know about) shift from a salvation culture to an allegiance culture during this forthcoming week, month, or year.” These are designed to help connect the head to the hand, so that Jesus’s kingly rule can be made tangible.

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Posted by on 8 Sep 2017 in Books


A Multi-part Interview With Matthew Bates on His New Book, Part Two

Note: Part One is posted here.

Q– Aside from the Trinity (which you’ve also written on), and Soteriology, what do you see as the most important and most misunderstood of the classic Christian doctrines? The Virgin Birth, the Atonement? Or something else?
To seek for the most important and the most misunderstood simultaneously is very limiting. The union of those sets yields a very slender subset. Additionally, doctrines which are understood well in the academy may be widely misunderstood at the popular level.

AHmmm… I would have to go with “original sin.” All sane theologians are going to agree that “all have sinned” apart from the Son—but how and why? Therein are many dubious theological tales. And in seeking answers, theological blunders from church history collide with complex modern questions about science and anthropology.

Q – I’d like to ask about the central question raised by your book’s title: what is the difference, in your view, between salvation by works and salvation by allegiance?

AThis is a good question, because otherwise it is easy to talk past one another. “Salvation by works” is a rather nebulous phrase. Each part can be probed. What is “salvation”? What are “works”? What sort of means or agency is intended with “by”? Meanwhile, since I am suggesting that allegiance is preferable to faith as the master-metaphor in contemporary English-speaking culture, what might allegiance involve?

I think it is safe to say that for the majority “salvation by works” means a system in which salvation must be earned by performing certain deeds in order to achieve final salvation (usually conceptualized as “going to heaven”). An image that might accompany this popular view: God as the judge weighing deeds on a balance scale. If good deeds outweigh the bad, then a person is sent to heaven, but otherwise to hell. And so, salvation by works.

In the history of Christianity (at the level of popular rhetoric), Christians of diverse stripes have accused Jews of having such a system, and Protestants have accused Catholics of such a system. Protestants have often made this charge against Catholicism, in fact, by asserting that Catholicism re-enacts the gospel-compromising error of Paul’s ancient opponents in Galatia. The claim is that Paul had to oppose justification by works in order to safeguard justification by faith, and Martin Luther (et al.) had to do likewise vis-à-vis Catholicism.

However this caricatures both ancient Judaism and Catholicism. The work of E. P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, N. T. Wright, and many others on the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) has done much to correct this false portrait—even if the NPP hasn’t always described the Reformation correctly and even if there are elements in the NPP that need to be rejected or refined (for instance, in the book I disagree with N. T. Wright’s equation of “the righteousness of God” with “God’s covenant faithfulness”). Yet, with the NPP I take it as established that most ancient Jews believed themselves to be born by grace into saving covenant membership. They did not believe that salvation needed to be earned (in the sense described above), but rather maintained by performing the commandments while trusting that imperfect covenant performance could still result in the blessed age to come (as provisions for forgiveness and mercy can be found in the Law).

Meanwhile, Catholicism also affirms the primacy of grace, believing that a person is regenerated and washed through baptism (that is, righteousness is imparted to the individual). But this baptismal righteousness, because it has been imparted to the individual, can be lost through subsequent mortal sin, so good works (participation in the sacraments) are necessary to maintain or renew that grace. Even non-mortal sins must be purified through penance or good deeds, which can happen in this earthly life or through obtaining an indulgence. Famously Luther protested because he believed this indulgence system to be utterly wrong and corrupt.

When we go back to Paul, and read with care, I would argue that we discover several important truths: (1) Paul affirmed that the final judgment will be rendered at least in part on the basis of works (e.g., Rom 2:5-8; 2 Cor 5:10). (2) Paul’s polemic against “works” mainly intends “works of Law” or any similar system that relies on enumerated performance-commands. That is, Paul’s was not against doing good deeds in general, rather he opposed the idea that any form of worth (i.e., performing or not performing specific commandments) could establish one’s righteousness apart from being “in Christ”—especially since works of Law tended to divide Jew and Gentile and caused Jews to boast about covenant privilege. (3) The word pistis (traditionally “faith”) is not merely mental or psychological, but involves embodied activity. Accordingly ‘faith’ in Jesus the Christ is not reducible to trust in Jesus’s atoning power; it includes bodily allegiance to Jesus as the enthroned, ruling king.

Why should we affirm salvation by allegiance alone? Because the response of pistis is directed primarily at Jesus as the king. I speak about these topics at much greater length in the book itself, with supporting evidence. On works with respect to the allegiance proposal, see in particular Ch. 5, “Questions about Allegiance Alone.”

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Posted by on 4 Sep 2017 in Books


A Multi-part Interview With Matthew Bates on His New Book, Part One

Q– The tone of your book seems to imply that many have ‘gotten it wrong’ (i.e., salvation) up till now. Was that intentional, or is it merely a byproduct of your emphasis? Or, to put it more bluntly, the way it was put to Luther: do you think you are the only one to understand what salvation ‘is’ and everyone who came before erred?

AThe publication of Salvation by Allegiance Alone should be hailed as the second most important event in history, second by a narrow margin to Jesus’s death. I am fairly certain that nobody was actually saved until my book appeared to straighten this whole mess out. I allow that Jesus is still the Messiah, but I should at least get a prime-time talk show.

Joking aside, I think it may be unfair to suggest in such a sweeping fashion that my book implies that many have ‘gotten it wrong’ till now, for that flattens the kinds of ways the church can ‘get things wrong’.  Do I think the true church (in its full Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant expression) has always possessed the gospel in a saving fashion? Absolutely. So the church has never gotten it wrong in the ultimate sense.

Even when individual theologians, communities, and denominations have slightly (or even quite badly) misarticulated the gospel and/or salvation theory, I think the Holy Spirit was still operative in orchestrating salvation, so individuals could respond with saving allegiance through a tacit understanding of and response to the real gospel. It has been preserved and voiced every time the Scripture has been read down through the ages, and it has also been announced through liturgy and art. But this does not mean that there hasn’t been gospel confusion. A sufficient articulation is not the same as an exact articulation.

Yet, I can see why you might feel I am (overly?) bold, for I do make forceful claims about deformations within past and present soteriology. Salvation by Allegiance Alone develops four theses, the first two of which are relevant (and here I quote exactly from p. 9):

1. The true climax of the gospel—Jesus’s enthronement—has generally been deemphasized or omitted from the gospel.
2. Consequently, pistis has been misaimed and inappropriately nuanced with respect to the gospel. It is regarded as “trust” in Jesus’s righteousness alone or “faith” that Jesus’s death covers my sins rather than “allegiance” to Jesus as king.

Then I go on to assert:

“This inadequate identification of the climax of the gospel and faulty aiming of ‘faith’ is not a new problem. Nor is it a problem specific to certain Christian denominations or subgroups. It has been a norm across the full spectrum of the church for many hundreds of years. In fact, both Protestants and Catholics alike generally were invested in this slightly skewed scheme in the sixteenth century—indeed these problems extend at least in part all the way back to Saint Augustine in the fifth.” (Salvation by Allegiance Alone, p. 9).

So I do claim that my proposal might help correct historic and present missteps with regard to faith, works, and the gospel. I also assert that Saint Augustine injected a number of theological errors into the stream of Western soteriology, and that my book is making strides in the right direction. (On Augustine, see, e.g., Hart, “Traditio Deformis” []).

Yet, do I think my own thesis is a perfect articulation of salvation theory? Not a chance.

As I am able to build on many scholars and theologians who have labored to articulate salvation theory, I do hope it is nearer the truth than other expressions have been. I also think it is imperative that we re-cover and re-deploy the gospel in every era of church history, so serious attempts are necessary.

Q– The theological topic of ‘salvation’ seems to be making a bit of a comeback among theologians and layfolk. How do you see your book contributing to that discussion.

A- I think interest has been stirred by N. T. Wright’s popularization of elements of the New Perspective on Paul, his novel theory concerning “the righteousness of God,” and the debate this has caused, especially in Reformed circles. One thinks, for instance, of John Piper’s book, The Future of Justification, which has generate buzz among layfolk, and which deliberately responds to Wright’s proposals.

As I felt I had something to say to scholars, pastors, students, and general church-folk, I wrote for as broad an audience as possible. The numerous works of Wright (e.g. Jesus and the Victory of God; Paul and the Faithfulness of God; How God Became King), as well as books by Piper, Schreiner (Faith Alone), Barclay (Paul and the Gift), McKnight (The King Jesus Gospel), Teresa Morgan (Roman Faith and Christian Faith); Michael Gorman (Becoming the Gospel), Joshua Jipp (Christ is King); Michael Bird (The Saving Righteousness of God), and many others helped me refine my own proposal. In articulating my vision of justification, I found myself applauding and criticizing both Wright and Piper at times.

My book seeks to offer something new by reassessing the gospel and ‘faith’ simultaneously. If Jesus’s enthronement and kingly rule is not extrinsic to the gospel, but intrinsic to it, then this colors what it means to respond to the gospel in “faith”. It suggests that allegiance, including embodied obedience to Jesus the king, is essential to salvation.

Note: The other portions of the interview will be posted at the links below.  Those links will go ‘live’ when the interview segment is posted.

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Posted by on 31 Aug 2017 in Book Review, Books


The Old Testament in the New Testament Hawarden Conference 2017 Programme

Draft Programme

Wednesday 5th April

6.45 Dinner
Session 1 Chair: Susan Docherty
8.00 – 8.15 Welcome and Introductions
8.15 – 9.15 David Lees – Textual Ripples: A Different Methodological Approach

Thursday 6th April

From 8.00 Breakfast
Session 2 Chair: Steve Moyise
9.15 – 10.30 Joshua Coutts – The Catalyzing Role of Scripture for John’s Gospel
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break
Session 3 Chair: David Allen
11.00 – 12.30 Rikk Watts- Rethinking Context in the Relationship of Israel’s Scriptures to the NT: Character, Agency, and the Possibility of Genuine Change
12.30 – 1.00 Break
1.00 Lunch
Free Afternoon
3.30 – 4.10 Tea
Session 4 Chair: Susan Docherty
4.15 – 5.15 Bart Koet – A Tale of two Teachers: Jesus About Jesus and John the Baptist
5.15 – 6.15 Anthony Royle – The Vorlage of Paul’s Citation in Ephesians 5:14: New Horizons
6.15 – 6.45 Break
6.45 Dinner
Session 5 Chair: Steve Moyise
8.00 – 9.00 David Allen – What Makes ‘Two by Two’ Ark-etypal?

Friday 7th April

From 8.00 Breakfast
Session 5 Chair: Steve Smith
9.15 – 10.15 Kelsie Rodenbiker – Quotation vs Characterization: The Catholic Epistles and Old Testament Exemplars
10.15 – 10.45 Coffee Break
Session 6 Chair: Susan Docherty
10.45 – 11.45 Georg Walser – Quoted Text and Interpretation: Is There Always a Correspondence?
11.45 – 12.45 Hans Lammers – The Textual Form of the Quotation from Isaiah 6:10 in Mark 4:12: Influence from a Targumic Tradition or an Example of Inner-Gospel Exegesis?
12.45 – 1.00 Closing Reflections and Plans for Hawarden 2018
1.00 Lunch followed by departures


David Lees: Textual Ripples: A Different Methodological Approach?

In my research into the possible New Testament reception of the book of Esther, I have encountered difficulties by following more accepted methodological approaches such as Hays’ criteria. With the lack of NT scholarship that looks back to the book of Esther, one can enter circular arguments that are difficult to break out of (with regards to issues of volume and recurrence). As such, in this paper I will put forward the working hypothesis of a new methodology that, rather than looking back to the book of Esther, aims to travel forward with the book of Esther into the New Testament texts and world. To shape this, I propose the metaphor of textual ripples; each text is like a ripple or wave that travels outward from its original source interacting in different ways with different obstacles. Some ‘obstacles’ would be passed over and no interaction made, others cause the ripple to change direction, others may lead to ‘constructive interference’ where two or more waves converge, others may be more like a cliff face that cause a strong reaction with ‘textual spray.’ The context of the New Testament would determine the different forms of obstacle – accounting for the possibility that there may be no obstacle – and direct the researcher to evaluate whether there is textual evidence for this interaction. Rather than starting with a New Testament author and looking at what sources they use to shape their own text, this paper aims to open a conversation on how research can being with an Old Testament text and looking at how it may have rippled into, and reacted with, the New Testament context. This proposed methodology will be explored with a case study of the possibility that Esth. 8:17 can be identified in Gal. 2:14 through the word ιουδαιζω.

Joshua Coutts: The Catalyzing Role of Scripture for John’s Gospel

Many New Testament studies of intertextuality focus on how NT authors appropriate OT texts and themes. Observations are made on the hermeneutical principles which underlie the use of the OT, the interpretive tradition within which the NT authors operate, and the unique theological or stylistic motivations which may account for adaptations of the OT in new contexts. The comparison of texts has proven very instructive for answering such “how” questions, as we can observe similarities and differences in the use of the OT. Yet, often implicit in these discussions, are assumptions about why NT authors draw upon the OT. The question of what catalysts moved NT authors to draw upon the OT is more difficult to answer. Nevertheless, an attempt will be made in this paper to do so, with particular attention to John’s Gospel. There are likely several catalysts for John’s use of Scripture including an emerging Gospel tradition, the need to address problems such as Jewish obduracy, and the desire to legitimate the allegiance to Jesus of an emerging Jesus-community as contiguous with the narrative and promises of Israel. In addition to these, this paper will explore the possibility that Scripture in general, and perhaps particular texts of Scripture, were used against this emerging Jesus community (cf. John 5.39; 6.31; 7.52), and consequently had become a flashpoint around which the uniquely Johannine Gospel tradition coalesced.

Rikk Watts: Rethinking Context in the Relationship of Israel’s Scriptures to the NT: Character, Agency, and the Possibility of Genuine Change

Employing Collingwood’s notion of “historical imagination,” this paper seeks to imagine how the NT writers related to Israel’s Scriptures. Two assumptions appear foundational. First, as the eternal word of Israel’s unique and only God and creator, the faithful and unchanging Yahweh, the Scriptures were normative in revealing his character and in articulating his relationship with his creation and their relationship with him. If so, it makes better sense methodologically, to begin, not the with NT use of the OT, but Israel’s Scriptures’ normative shaping on the NT. Second, given Israel’s unique understanding of Yahweh and of his creation (gifting it with the possibility of genuine change) this relationship is primarily neither conceptual nor even literary but personal. Since persons are known through their agency (MacMurray), that is words and deeds over time, the fundamental orientation and “grammar” of this relationship ought to be historical and narratival. If so, “context” becomes a matter of where a given textually construed event fits into the larger narrative of Yahweh’s relationship to his creation and particularly what it says of his character and thus what Israel and the creation can expect of his future actions. This paper proposes that when viewed from this perspective the NT authors see what Yahweh has done in Christ to be both entirely consistent with his past and promised future interventions, and more profoundly revealing, of his character. We will examine some example texts, but hopefully allow considerable time for discussion.

Bart Koet: A Tale of Two Teachers – Jesus about Jesus and John the Baptist (Luke 7:18-35)

This paper poses a question about where we can find a great wisdom teacher who uses children’s rhymes to depict his teachings. Such a teacher can be found in Luke 7:31-35, where Jesus explains both his own teaching and John the Baptist’s and defends their teachings, albeit so different from each other, by referring to a children’s song. An analysis of the communication shows that in 7:35 there is a reference to the fact that all the people and even all the tax collectors choose the baptism of John and that therefore there is a possibility for the audience to become children of Wisdom by joining one of the teachers.

Anthony Royle: The Vorlage of Paul’s Citation in Eph. 5:14: New Horizons

The Vorlage of Ephesians 5:14 has been disputed by various scholars. The citation is introduced by the authoritative words “He (God) says”; however, there are no Scriptures that match the citation word for word, which has led to various hypothesises regarding its origin. Some scholars have noted similarities of phrases used in Ephesians 5:14 (Awake O Sleeper and rise from the dead) with Isaiah 26:19 (O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing or Joy) and Isaiah 60:1 (Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you). The difficulty with this view is that Paul’s citation uses a different tense in Greek to Isaiah LXX. Furthermore, the insertion of the title χριστον (And Christ will shine on you) in place of the Isaiah LXX’s more frequent title, κυριον (Isaiah 60:1), indicates that it is unlikely Paul was citing any known written text of Isaiah and that the Ωorlage is Christian in origin. In response, some scholars have speculated Paul used an unknown apocryphal source, and even a Gnostic writing, for his citation. The majority view is that Paul is citing an early Christian baptism hymn that was inspired by a Spiritual song (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16); however, the hymn is unlike any other creedal statement of the early church in the New Testament and the issue of baptism does not fit the context of Ephesians 5. As scholars have sought to propose a written Vorlage for Paul’s citation in past studies, this papers looks to new horizons of research that may lend to the evolution of Paul’s citation from Isaianic texts. I propose that the change of grammar, the conflation of texts, and the insertion of words in Paul’s citation from the LXX are impacted by three influences; rhetoric, social memory, and religious experience. Recent NT studies in these three areas have shown how they impact the citation technique of Paul and other NT writers, as well as their Jewish and Greco-Roman contemporaries. This paper seeks to highlight their importance to understanding the influence of Isaiah in Paul’s citation in Eph. 5:14.

Dave Allen: What makes ‘two by two’ ark-etypal?

In a recent article, Joan Taylor explores the accounts of Jesus sending disciples out 2 by 2, and concludes that this is an allusion to the Noah account of 2 by 2 entry onto the ark (with the implication that Jesus dispatches male and female ‘missionaries’ in such pairs). Taylor presents the allusion pretty much as an established given, and focuses more on the outcomes, so to speak, of the implied allusion. I would like to use her thesis on the mooted allusion as some sort of test case – what methodological assumptions does she make, and on what grounds does her proposal correlate with current OT/NT approaches?

Kelsie Rodenbiker: Quotation vs Characterization: The Catholic Epistles and Old Testament Exemplars

This paper examines the use of Old Testament (OT) exemplars by the seven-letter collection of Catholic Epistles (CE). Is their approach a matter of textual access, as some have suggested (e.g., Popkes regarding James)? I argue that, despite the diversity of authorship, dating, and theme within the CE, their use of exemplary OT figures is indeed strategic. There are fourteen OT quotations throughout the CE (primarily in 1 Peter), but eighteen exemplary figures. Significant connections to parabiblical/pseudepigraphal literature may be seen with regard to these figures (especially Enoch and Michael in Jude). However, read within the context of the canon they nonetheless evoke OT narratives. Further, because at least some of the CE can be shown to make use of textual material aside from their use of exemplars, I argue that access cannot be the only operative matter. I suggest, then, that the seven-letter collection presents a unique witness to the citation of OT figures alongside, and perhaps even in place of, quotations.

Georg Walser: Quoted Text and Interpretation; Is There Always a Correspondence?

When working with quotations from the Old Testament in the New, the correspondence between a quoted text and its interpretation can in some cases be very hard to comprehend. Mostly, this difficulty is due to the fact that we, of course, cannot know what was in the mind of the interpreter. However, in a few cases the quoted text is extant in various forms, and occasionally one of the variant readings seems to fit the interpretation better than the one found in the actual quotation. The question arises, if perhaps the interpreter had another version of the text in mind from the one quoted, when he made his interpretation. In Qumran there are some well-known examples, where this might be the case. This is also true for some interpretations in the Midrashim and in the early Church Fathers. But what about the New Testament? Are there any such examples in the New Testament, where the quoted text is not the text in the mind of the interpreter, i.e., the author of the New Testament text? And what could possibly be the reason for quoting one version of a text and presenting an interpretation of a different one?

Hans Lammers: The Textual Form of the Quotation from Isaiah 6,10 in Mark 4,12: Influence from a Targumic Tradition or an Example of Inner-Gospel Exegesis?

In the Gospel of Mark we encounter some 25 quotations from the Old Testament. An analysis of the textual form of all of these quotations shows that most of these depend on the LXX. In addition, the textual form of only a few quotations agrees verbatim with any of the extant LXX versions of the passage quoted. In some instances, we find a difference in textual form not accounted for by any OT version of the passage quoted which at the same time does result in a shift of meaning (e.g. Isaiah 6,10 in Mark 4,12; Isa 29,13 in Mark 7,7; Exod 20,17/Deut 5,21 in Mark 10,19; Zech 13,7 in Mark 14,27. In this paper, I will address one of these quotations, that of Isaiah 6,10 in Mark 4,12. Whereas there are several indications that the textual form of the quotation of Isaiah 6,9-10 in Mark 4,12 is dependent upon the LXX, the final clause exhibits a deviation not accounted for by any extant version of the LXX nor by the Hebrew of the MT. Several scholars have explained Mark’s textual form here (ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς) as dependent upon a tradition which eventually ended up in Targum Jonathan. Yet, Mark’s καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς as an interpretation of the LXX’s καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς fits the narrative context remarkably well. Mark’s deviant textual form may therefore be due to influence from the narrative context, and present an example of what I call ‘inner-gospel exegesis’. Specifically, I will analyze the preceding unit 3,20-35 as part of the larger literary section 3,7 – 4,34 and show how the issue of not receiving forgiveness is linked to important characters: the scribes from Jerusalem (3,22) and Jesus’s relatives (3,20-21). Both are of the opinion that Jesus’ ministry of healing and exorcism is the result of his being possessed by an unclean spirit (3,30). This opinion is designated as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, an offense that will never be forgiven (3,29-30). According to the Markan narrator, this rejection to acknowledge Jesus’ ministry as driven by the Holy Spirit places the scribes and Jesus’s relatives outside the ‘family’ of Jesus-followers (3,30-35). It is to ‘those outside’ that the quotation of Isaiah 6,10 is applied in a form deviating from the LXX but fitting the context perfectly. At the end of my contribution, I will present a tentative answer to the question whether Mark’s deviant textual form of Isaiah 6,10 is due to inner-gospel exegesis or that his view of Jesus’ ministry is best understood as a midrash on the deviant targumic rendition of this biblical passage. My answer is that we have here an example of ‘inner-gospel exegesis’. I will propose that in the other instances in Mark where we meet a variant textual form of an OT quotation but cannot explain it by referring to extant OT versions, we may be faced with the same phenomenon.


Posted by on 28 Mar 2017 in Conferences


God and the Faithfulness of Paul

9781506421674The American edition of this volume is being published by Fortress.

N. T. Wright’s magnum opus Paul and the Faithfulness of God is a landmark study on the history and thought of the apostle Paul. This volume brings together a stellar group of international scholars to critically assess an array of issues in Wright’s work.

Essays in Part I set Wright in the context of other Pauline theologies. Part II addresses methodological issues in Wright’s approach, including critical realism, historiography, intertextuality, and narrative. In Part III, on context, scholars measure Wright’s representation of early Judaism, Greek philosophy, paganism, and the Roman Empire. Part IV turns to Wright’s exegetical decisions regarding law, covenant, and election, the “New Perspective,” justification and redemption, Christology, Spirit, eschatology, and ethics. Part V at last speaks to the implications of Wright’s work for the church’s theology, sacraments, and mission, and for global responsibility in a “postmodern” age. The volume includes a critical response from Wright himself.


Posted by on 20 Oct 2016 in Books


A New Commentary on Romans By a Scholar Who Actually Understands Paul, and the New Testament

Der neue Kommentar zum Römerbrief
Paulus gilt als Grundlage der Reformation, aber seine reformatorische Auslegung geriet in Misskredit. Die lutherische Tradition betont einseitig die individuelle Funktion des Gesetzes, das in innere Konflikte führt. Dagegen stellt die „New Perspective on Paul“ den sozialen Konflikt zwischen Israel und anderen Völkern und die abgrenzende Funktion des Gesetzes ins Zentrum. Beides, der theologisch gedeutete Moralkonflikt und Sozialkonflikt, ergänzen einander jedoch, wenn man den Römerbrief mithilfe einer Kombination von bildsemantischen, sozialgeschichtlichen und psychologischen Methoden liest. Gerd Theißen und Petra von Gemünden verbinden beide Ansätze in ihrem innovativen Kommentar.

>> Hier finden Sie eine Leseprobe

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Posted by on 28 Sep 2016 in Modern Culture


News of a Star Studded Conference

The Star of Bethlehem: Historical and Astronomical Perspectives – A Multi-Disciplinary Colloquium, University of Groningen, October 23rd-24th, 2014
Interdisciplinary Reconsideration of “the star of Bethlehem”, bringing together astronomers, classicists, biblical scholars and historians of antiquity in a unique collaboration at the University of Groningen, October 23rd-24th, 2014 on the occasion of the university’s 4th centenary. Registration possible till September 15th. Programme details and further information on the Conference’s website at
Via Paul Middleton of BNTS.
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Posted by on 26 Aug 2014 in Conferences


Apostle of the Last Days: The Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul

9780825438929Kregel sent this useful volume some time back and I’ve finished working through it over the Christmas break. In short, it’s quite good.

Its publisher remarks

Paul’s life, letters, and theology are unified by the theme of the overlapping of two ages—this age and the age to come. With the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the age to come (i e , kingdom of God) broke into this present age but didn’t end it. Where other important doctrines such as justification by faith, reconciliation, and the cross of Christ were key players in Paul’s theology, Marvin Pate compellingly demonstrates that the overarching theme driving the Pauline corpus was indeed Paul’s inaugurated eschatology. In fact, Paul’s apocalyptic framework was only one of a number of other rival eschatologically focused religious perspectives of the day, such as the Imperial Cult, Hellenistic/syncretistic religion, and the merkabah Judaizers. Paul’s vigorous debates with the churches he served centered on the exclusivity of the gospel of Christ that he preached: the nonnegotiable apocalypse of Jesus the Messiah. Apostle of the Last Days will be welcomed in the classroom as a one-volume treatment of Paul’s life and letters as well as his theology.

This is a correct assessment and the book actually does live up to the promise.  Paul’s apocalypticism is grandly summarized and carefully examined by Pate.  He calls Paul an Apocalyptic Seer in the first chapter and then works through the letters to the Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians.  Finally, he concludes with a look at the eschatology of the Pastorals and ends with a chapter on the ‘Theology of Paul’.

The volume contains ample illustrative materials (tables, etc) and – for this I am particularly grateful – Greek in Greek font though, for some reason Hebrew in English font (i.e., transliterated).  If it’s possible to utilize Greek surely it’s possible to utilize Hebrew as well.

The book also suffers, I have to say, from the lack of an index.   An index of sources at the very least needs to be on board so that ancient texts can be located by researchers who may wish to – quickly – locate Pate’s materials related to those texts.  As many Qumran and Hellenistic texts as Pate brings to bear as evidence for his interpretation of Paul, the loss of an index is fairly substantially felt.

Overall, however, the content of the  volume is just simply quite exceptional.  And though Pate’s suggestion that Paul is an apocalyptic seer will be contested in some quarters, his argument is seriously enough assembled that those opposing it will have to muster superior forces.

Finally, it’s nice to read something about Paul that isn’t soaked in the bile of the New Perspective.  Indeed, even though Pate understands the views of the proponents of the NPP, he rejects them- opting instead for the ‘traditional’ understanding of Paul and the Law.  He remarks in a footnote to page 72-

For my part, I wholeheartedly support the traditional perspective toward Paul and the Law.

As do I, Marvin, as do I.  Which is why I’m happy to commend this book to students of the Pauline corpus and the theology of Paul.  And even if you’ve been poisoned by the NPP, your mind warped and your spirit corrupted by that sub-standard eisegetical meandering cul-de-sac, this volume will cure you of that disorder.  Tolle, lege.

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Posted by on 31 Dec 2013 in Book Review, Books


Paul and Judaism Revisited: A Study of Divine and Human Agency in Salvation

IVP Academic have sent this new work by Preston Sprinkle for review:

2709Ever since E. P. Sanders published Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977, students of Paul have been probing, weighing and debating the similarities and dissimilarities between the understandings of salvation in Judaism and in Paul. Do they really share a common notion of divine and human agency? Or do they differ at a deep level? And if so, how? Broadly speaking, the answers have lined up on either side of the old perspective and new perspective divide. But can we move beyond this impasse?

Preston Sprinkle reviews the state of the question and then tackles the problem. Buried in the Old Testament’s Deuteronomic and prophetic perspectives on divine and human agency, he finds a key that starts to turn the rusted lock on Paul’s critique of Judaism. Here is a proposal that offers a new line of investigation and thinking about a crucial issue in Pauline theology.

My review is online and you can read it here.


Posted by on 12 Sep 2013 in Bible, Book Review, Books