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Paul and Judaism Revisited: A Study of…

Paul and Judaism Revisited: A Study of Divine and Human Agency in…

by Preston M. Sprinkle

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This is one of those books that you are going to love if you’re intrigued with this stuff (the New Perspective on Paul), and hate if you’re not. I ate it up. It’s a relatively hard read, even though the Greek language is kept to a minimum. Beginners in Pauline theology may feel overwhelmed, but more studied theologians will be captivated.

The question is, where did Paul get his ideas, and exactly what does he teach regarding salvation? Is salvation conditional upon works, or is it a gift by the grace of God? A quick scan will uncover a lot more works-based verses in the Pauline writings than you might think. Perhaps there are two instances requiring salvation: the initial inbreaking of the Kingdom, fulfilling the prophecies of acceptance by faith/grace, and the final judgment, in which the prize must be earned? Does that mean God’s gift incurs an obligation, and is that obligation tied to the works of the Law? What exactly is Paul’s hangup with the Law, anyway? Sprinkle admits that the one single verse that set him on this journey is found in the Law of Moses:

Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD. –Leviticus 18:5

After a review of the Old Testament’s two conflicting ideas about restoration—Deuteronomic, which requires human repentance, and prophetic, in which God’s promise is unconditional—Sprinkle gears up to the New Testament and Paul’s take on salvation: justification and human agency, the role of the eschatological Spirit, and anthropology. He compares Paul with the Qumran community, noting their similarities and differences. (There are some short comparisons with other Judaic writings, but the major focus is on the Dead Sea Scrolls.)

It’s worth noting that Spring is a devoted Christian who does not consider Qumran writings to be inspired. Thus, determining the true flavor of Paul’s message, especially where it contrasts other Judaic thinking, is of fundamental importance. The research is very scholarly and convincing, and the footnotes are legion and quite interesting.

Definitely recommended. ( )
  DubiousDisciple | Sep 13, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0830827099, Paperback)

Ever since E. P. Sanders published Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977, students of Paul have been probing, weighing and debating the similarities and dissimilarities between the understandings of salvation in Judaism and in Paul. Do they really share a common notion of divine and human agency? Or do they differ at a deep level? And if so, how? Broadly speaking, the answers have lined up on either side of the old perspective and new perspective divide. But can we move beyond this impasse? Preston Sprinkle reviews the state of the question and then tackles the problem. Buried in the Old Testament's Deuteronomic and prophetic perspectives on divine and human agency, he finds a key that starts to turn the rusted lock on Paul's critique of Judaism. Here is a proposal that offers a new line of investigation and thinking about a crucial issue in Pauline theology.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:42 -0400)

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