Skip to main content

A Perspective on Perspectives

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may know that I am somewhat sympathetic towards the New Perspective on Paul (or perhaps better put, in agreement with certain elements of certain strands). The point of this post isn't so much to ask about the quality of exegesis of specific passages of Scripture that a NPP approach yields, but to ask some pertinent questions that I think both sides of the Old/New perspective divides should consider, and I know that I'm probably not the first one to ask this set of questions, but I think that we need to do some wrestling with our presuppositions.

Arguably the most important thing that post modernity has bashed into our brains is that we need to constantly examine what presuppositions we bring to the text. What blind spots do we have because of our experiences and the various cultures that we inhabit? Fair enough, let me ask the question to myself. One of the elements of NPP exegesis that resonates with me is the emphasis on horizontal dimensions of salvation, especially unity between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2 lays this out so eloquently). This becomes a central focal point through which much of Pauline soteriology is read.

Now for some biography. I grew up in a white suburban neighborhood. I went to a white all-male Catholic high school (162 out of 167 in my graduating class were white). In college I discovered other cultures for the first time, eventually ending up in an Asian-American campus ministry and church, marrying a 1st generation Korean immigrant and I've traveled to Asia three times (and loved every minute of it). If the Lord is willing I'd move to Korea or China in a heartbeat. Being united with believers of a different race has been an eye-opening experience that has helped me to see how God is glorified through the unity of people who otherwise have little or nothing in common (this extends far beyond racial unity). I don't think that my experience is all that unique. In a globalized world, these types of connections are becoming more and more common and in America our culture is increasingly variegated providing opportunities for unity in diversity.

My questions is, since we live in intersection with other cultures in ways we never have in the past, are we predisposed to find the importance of ethnic unity in Scripture or does our cultural situation enable us to see something that may have been invisible to the church in the past?

I think we also need to ask a question about unity in a more general sense. Being tolerant is the meta-norm of our culture. Has our culture rubbed off on us to the extent that we find a stress on tolerance (granted not a total tolerance like some in our culture want) at the heart of Paul's message to Christians (an important specification), or again is it really there?


Popular posts from this blog

Commentary Series Overview

When I write commentary reviews, one of my main goals is to assess how well the commentator hit the intended audience of the commentary and utilized the format of the commentary. This often necessitates cluttering up the post discussing issues of format. To eliminate that, I thought that I would make some general remarks about the format and audience of each of the series that appear in my reviews. Terms like liberal, conservative, etc. are not used pejoratively but simply as descriptors. Many of you are familiar with Jeremy Pierce's commentary series overview. If you don't see a particular series covered here, check out his post to see if it's reviewed there. I am making no attempt at covering every series, just the series that I use. Additionally, new series (such as the NCCS) have been started in the five years since he wrote his very helpful guide, so I thought that it might not be completely out of order to have another person tackle commentary series overviews. This…

Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:15-29

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! Fo…

Commentary Review: Daniel

In my opinion, Daniel is not the best covered Old Testament book as far as commentaries go. This isn't an uncommon phenomenon among Old Testament books. Though I've looked at them, I'm not going to review some of the older Evangelical Daniel commentaries (like e.g., Baldwin). They don't provide much that you can't get in either Longman or Lucas. If you're unfamiliar with the series that one or more of these commentaries are in check out my commentary series overview.

It was a very close call but my favorite commentary on Daniel is Goldingay's. While there were a few places where I disagreed with his interpretation, I found the commentary to be exemplary. If you're going to teach Daniel, especially the apocalyptic portions, you need a commentary that provides you with a lot of background material. Goldingay, while not as broad as Collins, certainly provides you with quite a bit. His exploration of the background to the apocalyptic symbolism is very helpfu…