Paul and the New Perspective

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by following-Him, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. following-Him

    following-Him
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    Tom Wright is one of the theologians who put forward this perspective on Paul the Apostle, yet he claims to be an Evangelical. What do you think?
     
  2. Rachel

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    Follinghim, what perspective?
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    The New Perspective is an old heresy. It is among other things a denial of imputation. I don't see how anyone can be an evangelical and deny that. But I suppose it may be possible.
     
  4. Rachel

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    I don't have a clue what y'all are talking about. lol
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    It's just as well ... [​IMG]
     
  6. Charles Meadows

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    Tom Wright (NT Wright) is a prolific writer indeed. He is conservative, as far as the "big picture" is concerned - but he is definitely not a typical evangelical. He definitely believes in a divine Jesus who died and rose bodily. But his take on other issues is a little different.

    As far as the "new perspective" goes - there is not ONE new perspective. Each author in the "new perspective tradition" has a bit of a different opinion.

    Basically it started in 1963 when Krister Stendahl (a fairly liberal Harvard professor) wrote his essay on Paul and the "introspective consciousness of the west". He was essentially saying that Martin Luther read his own guilty catholic conscience into Paul's thought. Stendahl asserted that Paul was speaking about Israel as a whole and was not concerned (especially in Romans) with the INDIVIDUAL's relationship to God. E. P. Sanders came out with his book in 1977 (Paul and Palestinian Judaism) in which he spent 400+ pages blasting the 19th century European scholars for having an inaccurate picture of Judaism, namely that Judaism was NOT a works for righteousness religion, and that Protestant Christians from the reformation onwards had taken a wrong turn. James Dunn coined the term "new perspective", which as a tradition would include Wright, Dunn (a moderate), and Sanders (pretty liberal) as well as others like Ben Witherington, Richard Hays, J. Louis Martyn, Don Garlington, and Mark Nanos (all being a bit different). Most of these authors would agree that when Paul spoke of "works of the law" he was referring to things like circumcision and food laws. Thus in Galatians Paul was not making a blanket statement that salvation was by faith and not works - rather he was chastising a particular group of "Judaized believers" for trying to make the Jewish law necessary for Christians. Wright sees righteousness here as NOT righteousness being imputed by Christ but rather the covenent status that we have because of God's promises. Ricgard Hays thinks that "faith in Jesus" in Galatians is not OUR faith in Jesus but rather Jesus' faithfulness to God's promises!!

    This is enormously important since, if they are right, salvation by faith is NOT the heart of the gospel. Indeed Wright sees the "gospel" as the good news that Jesus was the Messiah of God and has fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah 40-55. Salvation by faith alone is best a footnote.

    N.T. Wright sees Paul as NEVER having left his Jewish mindset - basically he just realized that Jesus was the Messiah. As such Jesus is the completion of God's work. And Israel's election as God's special covenant people was simply part of God's grand work which culminated with Jesus' death and resurrection. Thus Wright believes that the church has replaced Israel as the elect. Many "new perspective" writers disagree (especially Richard Hays) with this stance.

    N.T Wright has himself been quite intrigued by the works of Richard Horsley and others who see Paul as having a very anti-Rome and anti-Caesar stance which is visible just beneath the surface of his writing (Wright himself has named this the "fresh perspective" - but the term has not yet caught on!)

    While I find N.T. Wright quite compelling and (for the most part) quite consistent I cannot agree with his overall view.

    I think that Sanders writings on Judaism are somewhat true - but looking at the whole of Jewish literature (see works by D.A. Carson and Joseph Fitzmyer) there WAS in fact works for righteousness thought (especially in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls - like 4QMMT).

    And Wright's and Dunn's views on righteousness as indicating covenant membership and not imputed righteousness are just a bit strained (at best). The best rebuttal I've seen here has been Moises Silva's essay on works of the law in Galatians (in "Justification and Variegated Nomism part 2).

    Finally I find Wright's replacement of Israel with the church, while consistent with HIS theory, not suported by the descriptions of Israel as God's covenant people FOREVER.

    Overall the "new perspective" has made us think - but I think Luther was pretty much right all along!!
     
  7. following-Him

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    Charles,

    Thank you for that overview of the so called "New Perspective". I can't see how Wright can be Evangelical and yet hold to this theory. I was just interested to hear other peoples views on the matter.

    Blessings

    followinghim
     
  8. All about Grace

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    Wright is an evangelical by most definitions. He does not fit in the normal "American evangelical conservative" paradigm (he is not American), but he is an evangelical in his basic beliefs. His new perspective has had an incredible impact on the world of Pauline studies. As with any "new" concept, he brought some great thoughts to the table and he brought some provocative but weaker points to the table.

    He is often recognized as one of the main theologians that emerging church thinkers read.
     
  9. All about Grace

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    Charles -- good overview. Wright has challenged my thinking regarding Paul's attack on the "legalism" of his day. While I do not adhere to his fresh perspective entirely, I have definitely rethought the "boundary marker" mindset that Wright articulates among the 1st century Jews. It has helped make sense of some things to me.

    I am not sure it has to be as either/or as we often make it in this discussion.
     
  10. Charles Meadows

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    The NPP has certainly made it interesting. It's been a boon for some liberals so we should all have some familiarity with it in order to be able to discuss issues. I sought out and read every NPP author I could find. I didn't change my mind overall but I did learn a huge amount!

    [​IMG]
     
  11. NateT

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    Stephen Westholm has a good book: Perspectives on Paul Old and New.

    Although it's a bit techinical, I had to read it for a class, and it really helped me to see what the NP was really about
     
  12. Charles Meadows

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    Westerholm's book is good. I like his section on Luther as well.

    I would have to say that of the classic NP{P authors I have found Wright to be the clearest and easiest to follow. Actually I thought Sander's original book was a bit scattered and rambling! I found J. Louis Martyn's "Theological Issues" and Richard Hays "Converting the Imagination" quite intriguing as well.
     
  13. Martin

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    I have read several of Wright's works and listened to him debate people like JD Crossan (of Jesus Seminar fame). At this time my "main reading project" is sludging through Wright's "Christian Origins and The Question of God" which I find interesting. However, like most of Wright's works, it tends to be rather wordy. I don't agree with everything he says and I certainly take issue with his "new perspective on Paul". However I think he is, in general, a conservative scholar. I would not call him an evangelical (like D. Bock, etc) but I would call him a conservative. I don't recommend much of his theology (replacement, etc) but his historical works are very well done.

    To be honest, however, I would much rather read folks like Blomberg, Bock, Habermas, Black, Moreland, or Wilkins (or maybe even Maier and Barnett) rather than Wright. Why? Well to start with they are generally more evangelical than Wright. Thus I am more comfortable. However I believe it is important to read books by Wright since he is an important scholar on issues that I spend alot of study time on (historical Jesus, etc).

    In Christ,
    Martin.
     
  14. Charles Meadows

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    I'm a big fan of Bock and Blomberg. The others tend to be a bit predictable I think. I get the idea that Habermas and Wilkins and others of that ilk approach the passages with their interpretation already decided. That may be a bit of an overgeneralization. But I like Wright because he is not afraid to be different and honest - even if that leads him to a less tahn popular conclusion. In the end I still disagree with him however!
     
  15. DavidsonBap

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    Wow, this stuff is so beyond me. I just read my Bible and save that complicated stuff for the scholars. I can't even get my head into all that stuff. I just love Jesus and read the Bible to the best of my ability. Anyway, interesting stuff guys, but obviously for guys with brains. I'm outta here. Peace.
     

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