A Review of
The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life: Ethical and Missional Implications of the New Perspective
Scot McKnight and Joseph B. Modica, Eds.
Reviewed by Danny Yencich
The worlds of biblical scholarship, Christian colleges and seminaries, and evangelical theology and preaching have played hosts to a tempest in a teapot these last few decades. While the rest of the world continued on doing what the rest of the world does, the aforementioned invested readers of Paul have been engaged in a usually quite interesting and sometimes very heated debate about the broad contours and implications of the theology of the apostle to the gentiles. Like a river system, the debates have splintered off into various tributaries, feeders, and side streams, but the central points of dispute have been, and remain to this day, Paul’s attitudes toward salvation, gentiles, and the Judaism of his day. This nexus of issues, read through the lens used by the great reformer Martin Luther, gave rise to what has been called (often pejoratively) “the Old Perspective on Paul” (hereafter “OP”). Enter its adversary from stage right: the New Perspective on Paul (“NP”). Grossly oversimplified, the OP/NP debates have largely centered on first century Torah observance (“works of the law”), justification, and the question of “faith in/of Jesus Christ.” It may be instructive here to take one verse, Galatians 2:16, and run it through the interpretive apparatuses of the OP and NP to briefly and oversimply sketch the broad contours of the debate.
…yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law (Gal 2:16, NRSV).