Monday, July 31, 2006

Book Recommendation: “Perspectives Old and New on Paul

Stephen Westerholm’s “Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics” is probably the best book to get acquainted not only with the New Perspectives on Paul (NPP), but to also brush up on the Old Perspective on Paul or the “Lutheran” position (Westerholm defines “Lutheran” as the basic traditional/reformed positions). The book is divided into two major selections, with the first part being a survey of some of the important “players” in Pauline theology, such as the historic “Lutheran” scholars (Augustine, Luther, Calvin and Wesley), the modern “Lutheran” scholars (Cranfield, Schreiner, Thielman), and some proponents of the NPP (Sanders, Dunn, and Wright). This selection alone is worth the price of the book, as I can’t think of any other resource that gives such a broad overview of all the “key” scholars in the debate.

The second selection, Westerholm gives a reasonable and strong exegetical defense for his “Lutheran/traditional/reformed” position by examining key words and phases in the debate such as examining Paul usage of “righteousness” (dikaiosness) and “law”, and by analyzing Paul’s thoughts on “justification by faith” in each of his epistles. If anyone wishes to seriously engage in the Pauline debate and I would highly recommend this book.

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