Friday, August 05, 2005

The New Perspective on Paul (Part 1)



What I take to be the 'consensus', in NT circles, is the notion that Judaism of the first century was not the ugly step sister of Christianity. This is developed in a number of ways, but essentially Sanders looked at the Second Temple literature of the first century, and determined that Second Temple Judaism was no more legalistic than the Christianity in which Paul proclaimed (which is to say it is not a religion based on the notion of legalism, not that there were no legalists within the religion). There have been corrections to Sanders thought since 1976 (one wonders when the word new will cease to signify?). The most important and often most overlooked is that there was no monolithic, normative, orthodox Judaism of the Second Temple period; so we should use the nomenclature that corresponds to this (Judaism(s) is just such an attempt to clarify the historical situation). There has been an attempt to highlight this fact as if it destroys the NPP, where in reality, it neither adds nor subtracts to the NPP, it just rectifies a methodological mistake made by Sanders. So the NPP really started with a new perspective on Second Temple Judaism(s)(at least from the Christian scholars perspective). It was with this new insight that commentators on Paul started to reconstruct and correct this defect by asking the question:

If Paul was not deriding the Judaic people for being legalists, then what was Paul on about?

3 comments:

TheBlueRaja said...

Not that it even attempts to answer the question you posed, but I recently posted a bit about the overblown Reformed reaction to N.T. Wright. Just thought you might be interested.

fr'nklin said...

I'm very sympathetic to Sanders, Dunn and Wright (even though I'm in the PCA;), so I'm axnious to read your thoughts on the NPP. About "new"...I think the word never dies. I went to a VERY FUNDAMENTALIST university in the late 80's and they were still calling people "NEW EVANGELICALS" ("neo-evangelicals"). So, the NPP will probably always be the NPP. I did ask on McKnight's blog was the NEW Perspective simply NEW to evangelicalism since it seems to have been around mainline thinkers a little longer.
BTW, I'm new hear...like your site.
Also, posted recently on "Defending the Pharisees"...influence of Sanders evidenced in this blog.

Fr'nklin

Michael F. Bird said...

Very good question, one I've been thinking and writing about of late. On the issue of imputation, my JETS article may interest you (available at euangelion). G.E. Ladd in his NT Theology also has a good counter-response to the charge of legal fiction.