Thursday, December 18, 2008

Longenecker and Paul's Tension with Judaism

Longenecker does better than either the traditional or New Perspective in analyzing the "supposed" tension with Paul's Jewish heritage, that is at least in one place in his little book on Paul--his view on the law and the work of Christ, for example, is not consistent with this however (pp. 93-96). 

Rather than a tension with the legalistic, works-based religion of Judaism in view of the gracious message of the Gospel (traditional) or the nationalistic and ethno-centric religion of Judaism in view of the universal and transcultural Gospel (NP), Longenecker said it was a tension of eschatological fulfillment. He writes:
The primary tension of Judaism, which dominates all the Old Testament and Jewish thought generally, is that of covenant promise and anticipated fulfillment. The religion of Israel is a religion of promise, with consummation reserved for the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic Age. And it was this tension, rather than any having to do with ethics, motivation or universalism, which Paul found resolved in commitment to Jesus of Nazareth as God's promised Messiah -- the Messiah rejected, crucified, risen and now exalted. 

The Ministry and Message of Paul, p. 30.

9 comments:

Tremonti said...

Wow, and this was written in 1971.

Michael F. Bird said...

Joel, Albert Schweizer was very big on the same point. In fact, he probably over-emphasized it.

Paul said...

Longenecker's book, Paul, Apostle of Liberty, is also a great resource. He was ahead of the NPP and the "faith of Jesus" debate. When I started reading NPP and Hays on Paul, I heard echos of Longenecker. I am disappointed that he has not received the recognition he deserves. I find him very insightful.

Mason said...

"covenant promise and anticipated fulfillment"

The Israel/Church, Gospel/Judaism debates are pretty facinating I think. But all to often it seems like we miss this important theme, that Jesus and his early followers nowhere seem to believe they are starting a new religion, but rather that they are participating in the 'climax of the covenant' as it were. Maybe that larger theme can incorporate both the traditional and NP focuses.

Preston Sprinkle said...

This sounds quite a bit different than his Galatians commentary (esp. around Gal 3:10-14).

Joel Willitts said...

Preston:

Note that I found that this was not a consistent perspective throughout his interpretation especially when it came to his view the Law and its relationship to the work of Christ. On these he is definitely in the traditional camp. As with all of us, there are blind spots in our thinking.

JW

Preston Sprinkle said...

Joel,

I also wonder if his stuff in the later commentary was shaped more in reaction to Sanders, Dunn, and others. But the comment you quoted would have been rooted in more pure exegesis. Just a thought.

xanax said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Preston Sprinkle said...

I actually had a recent panic disorder from reading several of Mike Bird's books. Is this guy for real? And then I tried xanax, and now his arguments finally make sense. Thank you xanax!