Glossary of Terms
Quick Definitions (in process)
[As with any definitions, it is important to note that these are limited and should be seen as broad in scope. Every category only points us in a general direction.]
"Traditional" (Augustinian/Lutheran/Reformed) Perspective: The Law is about "merit-based" salvation but grace grants salvation based solely on the merits of Jesus Christ and his imputed righteousness, thus Christianity (salvation by grace) has superseded/replaced Judaism ("works righteousness").
- Important Points
- Question Being Raised: "What must one do to be saved from sin and works-righteousness?"
- Law and Grace in opposition
- Focus: Salvation from sin
- Key Pushback: Does this dichotomy actually work based on what we know of Second Temple Judaism pertaining to works of the Law?
New Perspective on Paul: Being a member of God's covenantal family through the Law was always experienced as grace for Jews, but with the coming of the faithful messiah, all Jewish specific boundary markers have been relativized in order to swing wide the doors for the graceful entry of the Gentiles, thus Christianity is in continuity with Judaism.
- Important Points
- Question Being Raised: "Which Jewish-specific boundary markers are now relativized (or replaced by the Spirit) for the sake of the full inclusion of the gentiles into Abraham's (now global) family?"
- The Law's Judaean-specific boundary makers trumped by unity between Jews and Gentiles
- Focus: Unity through inclusion by tearing down boundaries
- Scholars: E.P. Sanders, James D.G. Dunn, and N.T. Wright
- Key Pushback: Can we expect that Jewish followers of Jesus simply gave up their practice of Torah observance if it was already experienced as a gift of God's grace?
Radical New Perspective (Paul Within Judaism): Paul upheld the goodness of the Law and all of his negative rhetoric about Jewish practices was directed at his Gentile audience only, therefore non-Jewish followers of Jesus fulfill end times expectations that the nations would worship Israel’s God as distinct peoples (i.e. no circumcision, etc.), thus Christianity and Judaism are two separate tracks into God’s covenantal family.
- Important Points
- It is driven by Paul's end time expectation that the nations would be gathered to worship Israel's God, distinctly as "the nations" (thus, conversion to Judaism is a big problem for Paul, etc.)
- Paul's letters are viewed as written almost exclusively with the gentiles in mind, and so his negative rhetoric about the Law is directed solely at them.
- Question Being Raised: "What does it mean for the 'nations' (gentiles) to remain distinctly non-Jewish but to worship God alongside Israel via two tracks into the one covenantal family (Torah for Jews, Jesus for gentiles)?"
- Focus: Torah is good for Jews but bad for gentiles.
- Scholars: Lloyd Gaston, John Gager, Stanley Stowers, Neil Elliott, Mark Nanos, and Pamela Eisenbaum
- Key Pushback: What significance does Jesus have for Torah observant Jews in the first century if in fact they were already in the covenantal family of God? Also, wouldn't Jewish followers of Jesus (and those Paul hoped to persuade) have to adapt their practice of Torah in light of Jesus' teachings and/or modifications of various commandments? [Examples: "Love your enemies," "cast the first stone," etc.]
Empire Criticism: “…developing an eye and ear for the presence of Rome and the worship of the emperor in the lines and between the lines of New Testament writings” (McKnight and Modica, Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not, 16).
- Key Example: "To say 'Jesus is Lord' is to say that Caesar isn't" - N.T. Wright
- Key Pushback: Why isn't Paul more explicit about his supposed subversion of the Roman Empire?
MORE TO COME!