Friday, June 09, 2006

NTW, Bird, and "The New Perspective" (Part 2)

Regarding the necessity of a mediating position between the "New Perspective" and traditional readings of Paul, Wright also makes the following observation:

"Israel too is in Adam: the people who bear the solution are themselves part of the problem, and the good and holy Torah . . . simply intensifies the problem, partly by pointing at sin within Israel, and partly, at a second level, by apparently encouraging Israel to make it an idol, to use it as a way of establishing an inalienable status of national privilege . . . This move shows, I believe, the folly of dividing up readings of Paul into the false either/or of those on the one hand which highlight the problem of sin and the question of forgiveness and those on the other which highlight the problem of Israel and the inclusion of the Gentiles within God's people. This is where the so-called 'new perspective' has made one of its necessary points - that every time Paul discusses justification he seems simultaneously to be talking about Gentile inclusion - but has not, usually, shown how this integrates with the traditional view that he is talking about how sinners are put right with God" (Paul: In Fresh Perspective, 36: italics mine).

Wright's observation regarding the link between justification and Gentile inclusion certainly seems valid for Romans and Galations. It also seems relevant for Ephesians 2:1-22.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

NTW, Bird, and "The New Perspective" (Part 1)

Dr. Michael Bird has recently announced another paper he will be presenting at ETS (link). Apparently this latest contribution from the "good Doctor" will attempt to establish some common ground with the "New Perspective" on Paul.

At this moment, I am on vacation with my wife visiting my family in the Cayman Islands. However, since this post is quite similar to a post I have been planning on putting together-and I can never resist referencing Dr. Bird's blog-I've decided to go ahead and post it now. Besides, I'm long overdue for an addition to my meager blog. Anyway, enough introduction!

While it is only the second chapter I have read in his work, "Paul: In Fresh Perspective," I'm not sure how Wright can surpass his discussion of creation and covenant in Paul. This chapter no doubt builds upon his earlier "The Climax of the Covenant," and really makes me want to finally dig through that important work.
One of the most helpful points in this chapter for me was Wright's discussion of the relationship between creation, covenant, and the law.
Here are Wright's three primary theses:
1) the covenant was intended as "the means of dealing with evil within the good creation"
2) "The family of Abraham, who themselves share in the evil, as well as in the image-bearing vocation, of the rest of humanity, treated their vocation to be the light of the world as indicating exclusive privilege"
3) "When God fulfils the covenant through the death and resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit, thereby revealing his faithful covenant justice and his ultimate purpose of new creation, this has the effect both of fulfilling the original covenant purpose (thus dealing with sin and procuring forgiveness) and of enabling Abraham's family to be the worldwide Jew-plus-Gentile people it was always intended to be" (36-37)

Wright concludes, "If there is one major result of this chapter in terms of current debates, it is that the 'new perspective' on the one hand, and its critics on the other, both need to come to terms with the integrated vision of human sin and redemption and Israel's fall and restoration which characterizes Paul through and through, precisely because his controlling categories are creation and covenant."

Again, this work proves itself (at least in my mind) to be a necessary read.