Friday, February 5, 2010

The Doctrine of Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul

The latest issue of Tabletalk Magazine is titled "What N.T. Wright Really Said." This is a play on N.T. Wright's book What Saint Paul Really Said. In conjunction with this new issue, Ligonier has put together a very helpful list of resources on the New Perspective(s) on Paul. I have not read (or listened) to every thing on the list, but these two resources I have and would recommend them highly: (1) Guy Waters on Christ the Center where they discuss N.T. Wright’s doctrine of justification (part 1) (part2) and "Was Luther Right?" by Thomas Schreiner. Both of these are good resources for anyone interesting in the New Perspective; those who are new to the New Perspective as well as those who are well informed on the issues.


  1. For the most robust discussion of justification to date, one must read Douglas Campbell's "The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul". His book is more of a game changer than anything written by N.T.Wright.

  2. Alan,

    I am not familiar with Campbell's work. Can you sum it up for us?

  3. Campbell, a NT prof at Duke, is not easily summed up in that his book is 1200+ pages! But I'll try and lay out the gist of his argument. He believes that much of the incoherence in Pauline theology has resulted by trying to make Romans 1-4 sit comfortably next to Romans 5-8. Campbell argues at length that our traditional reading of the first half of Romans tends to flatten out tensions that exist between the two sections. But he also feels that the response of the NPP has been to try and read "retrospectively" the "prospective" argument of Romans 1-4 (in other words, having it say something else than it actually says). Campbell's suggestion is that Romans 1-4 and 5-8 are actually two different soteriological systems, and that 5-8 is a subversion of 1-4. He believes that this move makes for a much more integrated reading of Paul throughout all of his letters.

    Links to the discussion of the book at SBL back in November can be found here:

    Responses to the book are given by Douglas Moo (a traditional reader), Michael Gorman (someone sympathetic to the New Perspective), and Alan Torrance (Scottish Presbyterian systematician who pretty much criticizes the guild of Biblical Scholars for failing to be theologians). Comments from the audience come from both Richard Hays and N.T. Wright.

    The most thorough online review can be found at:

    (I believe the reviewer has 10 installments so far)

    The book is, as I mentioned above, a massive tome that does not lend itself to skimming. But for the serious student of Paul, it is one of the most significant books written over the last generation.


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