Reading: New Creation in Paul’s Letters – Chapter 1, the Introduction

The author’s, T. Ryan Jackson, work is focused on the concept of the New Creation in Pauline writings. As he notes, Paul doesn’t use the phrase much, only twice – Galatians 6:15 and 2 Corinthians 5.17, and yet we know from the amount of scholarship applied to that concept, it seems to be a prevailing thought during this time period. As often is not the case, the author actually takes time to state the definition of the words he has chosen to use. He will use the Pauline concept of anthropological and cosmological, which he then precedes to give a short history of how these two viewpoints developed in Pauline studies. Previously, he gives two modern scholars who have produced works pointing to one of the other of the viewpoints. The more familiar names of Adolf von Harnack and Albert Schweitzer are used to create the short histories of the development of the concepts. It should be no surprise to how these respective studies developed, or to what they led to, but the author is able to highlight the connections between them, which I assume will be explored in the present work. As a matter of fact, he notes that the division between the two has “muddied the waters” of Pauline studies, as Paul himself would not see a division. (5) He goes on to chide the non-use of “Roman imperial ideology” (6) and the lack of relevant Greco-Roman background in approaching Paul. Of course, this use of imperial ideology interests me, as it seems to be a secure way of examining the New Testament. Of this approach, he writes, “(T)his thesis maintains that a balanced approach to the apostle Paul’s conception of new creation will reveal that this idea is an expression of his eschatologically infused soteriology which involves the individual, the community and the cosmos and which is inaugurated in the death and resurrection of Christ.” (6)

After laying down the crux of the problem, Jackson then briefly tackles how the early Church saw the New Creation. Surprisingly, the early Christian writers wrote very little about it. Jackson is able to pull an allusion from Barnabas and several statements from Clement of Alexandria. But, the development of Christian thought around this phrase picks up steam around Gregory of Nyssa. With Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa and Chrysostom mentioned, I will be interested to see if Jackson, in mentioning the use of Roman imperial ideology will somehow connect these thinkers to Roman imperial theology of which these men were associated.

In the overview, as with most, the scope of the project is given, but chapter seven is already on my horizon, as Jackson writes,  “the salvation of the individual is specifically linked to the salvation of creation.” (12)

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Post By Joel Watts (10,049 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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