This is a fine article, let me add a few comments stimulated by Chester's article:
- I think it is certainly correct that "works of the law" means simply the works which the law requries. However, this is not an atemporal statement of human effort to please to God, and it includes commandments that set-apart the Jewish people from Gentiles. A cursory reading of Menahem Stern's Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism shows that it was the peculiar behaviour of Jews that stood out to pagan authors (esp. circumcision, sabbath keeping, and the food laws). Thus, "works of the law" designates the epoch of the Sinaitic legislation but also the distinctive social practices of the Jewish people. In other words, it denotes the entire Mosaic code and the Jewish way of life as codified in the Torah.
- In SROG I explored more fully the link between 2.11-14 (Antioch episode) and 2.15-21 (justification by faith). The question is, how do you get from a debate about food and fellowship to some dramatic and powerful statements by Paul about righteousness by faith? What starts off with a basic discussion of maintaining Jewish distinctiveness in a mixed Jew/Gentile setting soon gives way to a more fundamental question of the individual's relation to God and what mediates that relationship: law or Christ. For Paul, "righteousness" is not a cipher for "covenant status" or "identity legimitation" but it refers to one's status before God at the eschaton in light of the final judgment. Of course that of itself has huge sociological consequences for one how initiates and integrates non-Jews into Jesus-believing fellowships with other Jesus-believing Jews.
- Before lampooning "boundary markers" as Jewish "ceremonies" redivvus, see Dunn, "The New Perspective: Whence, What, and Whither?" p. 25, n. 106.
- Chester has confirmed for me what is my basic suspicion. We have no need to abandon the basic theological architecture bequeathed to us by the Reformation, but we have to recognize and grasp more closely the sociological dimensions of Torah concerning group identity and group boundaries etc, and also the ecclesiological implications of justification.
- As I've said before: justification is the act whereby God creates a new people, with a new status, in a new covenant, as a foretaste of the new age!