Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Book Notice: Romans 4 and the NPP
Gerhard H. Visscher
Romans 4 and the New Perspective on Paul: Faith Embraces the Promise
SBL 122; New York: Peter Lang, 2009
Available from Amazon.com.
This volume was written as a Ph.D dissertation under Stephen Westerholm at McMasters University in Canada and it focuses on the significance of Romans 4 in NPP interpretation. It gives a survey on the usual suspects (E.P. Sanders, James Dunn, N.T. Wright, T. Donaldson, H. Raisanen) and various critics of the NPP as well (Thomas Schreiner, Frank Thielman, Mark Seifrid, Simon Gathercole, Stephen Westerholm). There is a chapter discussing the context of Romans 4 and an in depth analysis of Rom. 4.1-25. In his final reflections Visscher writes:
"To be sure, one does not need to be entrenched in an old perspective view wherein Judaism as such is seen as preoccupied with righteousness by works to adhere to such a view of Romans today. Sanders' work has presented a laudable corrected to such a view. Nonetheless there were those in Paul's day who wanted to impose upon Gentiles [sic] believers a necessity for circumcision and other forms of obedience to the law as a basis for righteousness and entrance into the Christian community. To those who were inclined to steer the early church in that direction, Paul wanted to clarify that it is not his view but theirs that is to be rejected. Observance of the law cannot lead sinners to righteousness" (p. 226).