Friday, November 06, 2009

A. Andrew Das on Rom 4.4-5

Note this recent article A. Andrew Das, "Paul and Works of Obedience in Second Temple Judaism: Romans 4:4-5 as 'New Perspective' Case Study," CBQ 71.4 (2009): 795-812. In this piece Das seeks a middle ground on the NPP debate (and the angels cried Hallelujah!) noting that some erroneously miss perspectives about God's empowering grace in Judaism, while others oddly miss the many demands for strict and perfect obedience as well. He concludes:

"New Perspective interpreters such as Dunn and Wright have correctly highlighted the abandoment of Jewish ethnocentrism in Paul's letters, but their central claim that his critique of the Law is limited to ethnocentrism does not withstand scrutiny. The Jews considered observance of the Law's works to be a necessary accompaniment of God's gracious election of the people. Second Temple literature praised those who were exemplary in their obedience, especially Abraham. Paul's convictions prevent him from recognizing the validity of works that proceed apart from the gracious framework of God's activity in Jesus Christ. The Apostle has sundered strict obedience from God's election and mercy toward ethnic Israel. Romans 7:7-25 can therefore describe teh futile struggle to obey what the Law requires. One searches in vain in 7:7-25 for an atoning mechanism that availa for sin apart form Christ (vv. 24-25). Paul may therefore speak of empty "works" or human exertion in contrast to grace as a warrant for why the works of the Law needlessly divide humanity. An adequate 'new perspective' must account for the Apostle's critique of works considered apart form God's grace in Christ."

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