Perspectives Old and New on Paul
Here, finally, is a much-needed review and analysis of the divergent interpretations of Paul. With a clear head and winsome sense of humor, Stephen Westerholm compares the traditional understanding of Paul to more recent readings, drawing on the writings of...
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Here, finally, is a much-needed review and analysis of the divergent interpretations of Paul. With a clear head and winsome sense of humor, Stephen Westerholm compares the traditional understanding of Paul to more recent readings, drawing on the writings of key figures in the debate both past and present.
Westerholm first offers a detailed portrait of the "Lutheran" Paul, including the way such theologians as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley have traditionally interpreted "justification by faith" to mean that God declares sinners "righteous" by his grace apart from "works." Westerholm then explores how Paul has fared in the twentieth century, in which "New Perspective" readings of Paul see him teaching that Gentiles need not become Jews or observe Jewish law to be God's people. The final section of the book looks anew at disputed areas of Paul's theological language and offers compelling discussion on the place of both justification by faith and Mosaic law in divine redemption.
"Since its publication in 1988, Stephen Westerholm's book Israel's Law and the Church's Faith has served as one of the best explorations of Paul's view of justification by faith. That book is now superseded by Perspectives Old and New on Paul. Westerholm here elongates the temporal parameters of his earlier work, reconstructing the views of Paul's most significant interpreters from the distant past to the turn of the twenty-first century. Against the backdrop of his fair and principled survey of scholarship, Westerholm's own examination of Paul's texts is characterized by a depth of analytical and theological perception rarely found in scholarly studies. For those with time to read only one book about Paul's view of justification by faith, this should be the book. And for those with time to read more, this is the book to start with." - Bruce W. Longenecker
Stephen Westerholm (D.Theol., Lund University) is professor of early Christian studies at McMaster University. He is the author of Understanding Paul, Perspectives Old and New on Paul, and Jesus and Scribal Authority.