Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Scot McKnight and the New Perspective

Scot McKnight is starting a series of posts on N. T. Wright's newest book Justification. This will no doubt be one of many. I've started reading it myself and was struck by Wright's comment when he said "But I do know that if a church only, or mainly, relies on the NIV it will, quite simply, never understand what Paul was talking about" (52). That's a bold claim and it doesn't say much for the NIV. So what is The New Perspective on Paul (commonly abbreviated NPP)? There are variations of beliefs within those who would be included under the NPP umbrella but according to The Paul Page (a website dedicated to the NPP) it is "[a]t its core is the recognition that Judaism is not a religion of self-righteousness whereby humankind seeks to merit salvation before God. Paul's argument with the Judaizers was not about Christian grace versus Jewish legalism. His argument was rather about the status of Gentiles in the church. Paul's doctrine of justification, therefore, had far more to do with Jewish-Gentile issues than with questions of the individual's status before God." Scot has a good summary and brief history of the major players in the NPP. Michael Horton says the NPP can be divided into two stages: 1) Paul misunderstood Judaism (a la E. P. Sanders), 2) The reformers misunderstood Paul (a la Dunn, Wright et al). Those looking for a summary of Wright's new book can find it here by Michael C. Thompson.

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