Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers 5 Such a sudden transition from the figure of the flock to that of a banquet is characteristic of Hebrew poetry. For the same figure of the hospitable host applied to God, see Job In the presence of mine enemies.
I cannot say that I am particularly taken aback by such responses, because when I was first invited to write a commentary my own reaction was more or less the same — a rather stultifying sense that it had all been said before, that interpretation of Pauline theology had lost a lot of steam, and that the really interesting and challenging frontiers in New Testament studies were to be found elsewhere.
I do not for a moment want to suggest that a commentator should refrain from re-expressing the old truths and rich insights of former days and previous commentators on Paul. Mere novelty is not of itself a mark of merit, and novelty for its own sake should certainly not be encouraged in an interpreter or expositor of any text.
As students of Paul we all would be the poorer if scholars like F. If we think only in terms of the last few years, for example, there has been more than one controversial reconstruction of Pauline chronology.
In some cases the old pattern has been shaken up somewhat and the pieces have fallen a little differently. In others I strongly suspect red herrings have been drawn in and wild geese chased.
There is, in my judgement, only one work written during the past decade or two which deserves that accolade. I refer to the volume entitled Paul and Palestinian Judaism by E. Sanders [formerly] of McMaster in Canada.
Sanders notes that Jewish scholars and experts in early Judaism have for long enough been registering a protest at this point, contrasting rabbinic Judaism as they understand it with the parody of Judaism which Paul seems to have rejected.
Thus, for example, Solomon Schechter: For a hundred years now, as Sanders observes, the majority of New Testament scholars have maintained a fundamental antithesis between Paul and Judaism, especially rabbinic Judaism, and have seen this antithesis as a central factor, usually the central factor, in understanding Paul the Jew-become-Christian.
Looked at from another angle, the problem is the way in which Paul has been understood as the great exponent of the central Reformation doctrine of justification by faith. To a remarkable and indeed alarming degree, throughout this century the standard depiction of the Judaism which Paul rejected has been the reflex of Lutheran hermeneutic.
From a massive treatment of much of the relevant Jewish literature for that period, a rather different picture emerges.
So far as we can tell now, for first-century Judaism everything was an elaboration of the fundamental axiom that the one God had chosen Israel to be his peculiar people, to enjoy a special relationship under his rule.
The law had been given as an expression of this covenant, to regulate and maintain the relationship established by the covenant. So, too, righteousness must be seen in terms of this relationship, as referring to conduct appropriate to this relationship, conduct in accord with the law.
That is to say, obedience to the law in Judaism was never thought of as a means of entering the covenant, of attaining that special relationship with God; it was more a matter of maintaining the covenant relationship with God. He defines it thus: We have all in greater or less degree been guilty of modernizing Paul.
But now Sanders has given us an unrivalled opportunity to look at Paul afresh, to shift our perspective back from the sixteenth century to the first century, to do what all true exegetes want to do — that is, to see Paul properly within his own context, to hear Paul in terms of his own time, to let Paul be himself.
Christ was the end of the law Rom. It may be, of course, that Paul was totally bowled over by his encounter with the risen Christ outside Damascusand this experience gave him a jaundiced and unfairly prejudiced view of his erstwhile faith from that time on.
Paul does misrepresent and distort the Judaism of his own day. He has separated law from covenant and adopted a Gentile point of view. The picture of Judaism which emerges from this fuller study of Paul does correspond to Judaism as revealed in its own literature. Paul attacks covenantal nomism, the view that accepting and living by the law is a sign and condition of favoured status.
I am not convinced that we have yet been given the proper reading of Paul from the new perspective of first-century Palestinian Judaism opened up so helpfully by Sanders himself. On the contrary, I believe that the new perspective on Paul does make better sense of Paul than either Sanders or his critics have so far realized.
II Let me attempt to demonstrate my case by focusing particularly on one verse and attempting to set it as fully as possible into its historical context. I refer to Galatians 2. This is the most obvious place to start any attempt to take a fresh look at Paul from our new perspective.
It is probably the first time in the letters of Paul that his major theme of justification by faith is sounded.
As such, the way in which it is formulated may well tell us much, not only about the theme itself, but about why it meant so much to Paul.
It will perhaps be helpful if I sketch out the immediate preceding context of this important verse more fully. Paul has been recalling the unhappy incident at Antioch some time previously.
The leading apostles at Jerusalem had already agreed that such Gentiles need not be circumcised in order to be counted as fellow believers Gal. At Antioch the custom was for all those who had been baptized in this faith in Jesus the Christ to share a meal in common when they met — Jews together with Gentiles.
Whatever the men from James said or however they acted, it had an effect. But Paul had confronted Peter and accused him of hypocrisy, of not following the straight path of the gospel.
In front of the whole community of believers he appealed to Peter: What precisely was Paul arguing here? What were the nuances and overtones which his fellow Jewish Christians would have recognized and appreciated?EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Whole Psalm. The righteous are preserved in Christ with a special preservation, and in a peculiar safety. In the thirty-seventh Psalm this point is excellently and largely handled, both by direct proof, and by answer to all the usual objections against their safety.
Servants: Ps ,2 ,21 ,20 Eph ,20 Rev ) Before you read the notes, pause for a moment of worship of the Most High God.
First, confess all known and unknown. 9. Antithesis establishes a clear, contrasting relationship between two ideas by joining them together or juxtaposing them, often in parallel structure. Human beings are inveterate systematizers.
Related posts: Gog moves Rooks into place for end time chess match. This is a very good analysis of the Russian Georgian conflict by Terry James.
The New Perspective on Paul. By James D.G. Dunn. Acknowledgements: “The New Perspective on Paul” by James D.G. Dunn originally appeared in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, Vol. EXPOSITION. Verse 1. The Psalm opens with the first precept.
It is alas!
too common for believers in their hours of adversity to think themselves harshly dealt with when they see persons utterly.