Sunday, March 05, 2006

New Perspective III

Apparently in some circles abroad I'm getting a reputation for being a little too pro-New Perspective on Paul. Let me say a few things:

1. As one who teaches in a Reformed college I am committed to the Reformed tradition, but at the same time I refuse to anathematize Wright as proof of my Reformed orthodoxy. I rather like the guy and consider him a brother in Christ, but I don't go along with everything he says.
2. I don't consider myself a New Perspective advocate. I have criticized elements of the New Perspective in print, in lectures and on-line. But I have also been willing to affirm areas where I think that some New Perspective authors are correct or at least headed in the right direction. See here for my initial musings on the New Perspective.
3. With I. Howard Marshall I think that the New Perspective is correct in what it affirms but wrong in what it denies.
4. I am currently preparing a volume called The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies on Paul, Justification and the New Perspective, which I hope reaches a via media on several issues of debate.

Anyway, for the sake of balance, I thought that I would list my favourite criticisms of the New Perspective:

1. D.A. Carson, Mark Seifrid, and P.T. O'Brien, eds. Justification and Variegated Nomism (2 vols.; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001-4).
2. Simon Gathercole, Where is the Boasting? Early Jewish Soteriology and Paul’s Response in Romans 1-5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002)
3. Francis Watson, "Not the New Perspective" Unpublished paper delivered to the British New Testament Conference 2001.
4. Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003)
5. Timo Eskola, Theodicy and Predestination in Pauline Soteriology (WUNT 2.100; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1998)
6. Mark Seifrid, Christ, our Righteousness: Paul’s theology of justification (NSBT 9; Downers Grove: IVP, 2000).
7. C. Talbert, "Paul, Judaism, and the Revisionist", CBQ 63 (2001) 1-22.
8. RH Gundry, 'Grace, Works, and Staying Saved in Paul' Biblica 66(1985), 1-38.
9. Sigurd Grindheim, The Crux of Election: Paul’s Critique of the Jewish Confidence in the Election of Israel (WUNT 2.202; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005).
10. Frank Thielman, “Paul as Jewish Christian Theologian: The Theology of Paul in the Magnum Opus of James Dunn,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 25 (1998): 381-87.


eddie said...

I fear that, much like Open Theism, The New Perspective has become the new heresy to be brought down at all costs. I do not assign this feeling to any particular scholar or group of scholars. But the feeling is certainly out there among certain groups Christians.

Nick said...

Where does I. Howard Marshall say this about the NPP?

Michael F. Bird said...


Marhsall, NT Theology, approx, pp. 444-50.

steve walton said...

francis watson's paper was subsequently published in tyndale bulletin, unless i'm mistaken.

NWMihelis said...

I think the link to "musings" is faulty. I'd love to read it if possible.

Steven Harris said...

I didn't think Carson's volume (haven't read the second one yet admittedly) was the big criticism of the NPP that a lot of people were hoping for, as it seems to stop well short of reaffirming the traditional view of Judaism as some kind of merit-earning religion.

It does seem though that the term 'New Perspective' is becoming an increasingly blunt instrument for describing a theological position that is very diverse and whose advocates often hold very different and contradictory positions.

I might be wrong of course, but the only area on which there is consensus in the NPP is on the understanding of 2nd Temple Judaism.

I'm glad you're standing up for NTW though, the attitude of some Reformed people to him and his theology is nothing short of outrageous.

Antony Billington said...

Francis’ paper is also available online at...