Will the New Perspectives on Paul unite Christianity and Judaism

Ran across this piece the other day –

There’s a punchy piece by Giles Fraser in last week’s Church Times. He is talking about Yom Kippur, the Jewish festival of penitence (Fraser’s family background is Jewish).

The still-dominant stereotype among many Christians is that Judaism presents a theology of salvation by works and law-keeping, in contrast to Christianity, which is all about salvation by faith. Quite frankly, this is a piece of crass racist ideology left over from the late Middle Ages. Martin Luther’s anger with his own Church for selling indulgences as a fast track to heaven was projected back on to first-century Judaism, for which this would have made no sense whatsoever. Notorious anti-Semite that he was, Luther would readily blame “the Jews” for a wayward theology that was much more about his own time and his own Church.

Protestantism twisted Paul’s theology, he says, but thankfully recent New Testament scholars have shown the illegitimacy of this. He concludes: “In setting Christianity and Judaism against each other, Christians cut themselves off from the very source of their own faith.”

via You can’t ignore Paul | Theo Hobson | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

So, do you think that the Reformation saddled us with an erroneous take on Paul’s take on Judaism? If so, do you think that the New Perspective on Paul will help to ease the tensions? And if not, is a relationship with Judaism something we have to consider?

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19 Replies to “Will the New Perspectives on Paul unite Christianity and Judaism”

  1. Of course the Reformation is not static, the best of the Reformation is both the reforming nature of Holy Scripture and the historical church standing beneath it!

    The so-called New Perspective? Again, only time and the Church itself, both theological and living out it’s mission can answer this question. For now, I will myself stay with the Church Fathers, both ancient and the modern. But, nothing is infallible but God, and not even an incarnational church.

    Judaism, our brothers…Judeo-Christian. St. Paul, the Apostle, always the preacher, theologian of both proper law and gospel! Yes, still Luther and Calvin…and even more Reformational Fathers! For myself, I seem always to turn back to the Paul and Pauline gospel of the Reformation. Still Catholic & Reformed! I know this is somewhat a statement of faith, but in the end, we always will…’faith seeking understanding’!
    Fr. R.

    1. I think that the NPP holds some, and I stress some, value, but from what I have read, there are parts that I wholeheartedly disagree with. To me, it suppresses the distinction between Judaism and Christianity.

      1. Joel,
        You see, you are riight there, and the nature of law and gospel. Wright has in fact almost tossed out Luther! The grave problem is that we have all enjoyed the value of what Luther and the Reformers gave, but now we want to act as if it were not part of our history and blessing. We simply must make the distinction between Judaism and Christianity, OT and NT covenant. Though the two are one, it is a progressive revelation. And I still maintain God wants to fulfill Israel in their land. Again, historic but covenant promises, as God said! This is not dispensational either.
        Fr. R.

    1. Rod,
      Like what (part/parts)? And what do you mean by “modern biases”? I must confess I don’t quite understand your biblical and theological approach? I am simply trying to dialogue with you.
      Fr. R.

  2. But how long has the new perspective been around? 30 years? If it’s not taken hold on most Christians by now, will it ever take hold? But, then again, there are many Christians who don’t read E.P. Sanders.

    1. Indeed, this whole thing seems to be a issue with the academy. Let me suggest to the open minded, that there are some classic statements back to Wright, see Cornelis P. Venema two books, the smaller work: Getting the Gospel Right, Assessing the Reformation and New Persectives on Paul. And his larger work: The Gospel Of Free Acceptance In Christ. Yes they are classic Reformed, but this is the reality of the history of the Reformation…the Gospel of Grace itself!
      Fr. R.

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