More Arguments For the New Perspective by Tom Wright

During the summer I started to compile some of the most persuasive points I thought that proponents of the New Perspective on Paul have made. If you’re interested, you can read that here.

Here is a short snippet from Tom Wright’s Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision on what he thinks are the major exegetical casualties of the Old Perspective on Paul from the book of Romans:

1. The tight little paragraph 3:27-31 regularly comes unglued at its crucial joint, the e at the start of Romans 3:29

2. Abraham in chapter 4 is treated as an “example” or “illustration,” and the point of the chapter is thereby completely missed, resulting in the oddity of placing within parentheses phrases in Romans 4:16-17 which are actually the main point of the whole discussion.

3. Within Romans 9-11 itself, even when Paul structures his argument by questions about the word of God having failed, about God being unjust, about God’s rights as judge, about his revelation of wrath and power, and then about his mercy (Romans 9:6, 14, 19, 22, 23) – all of which, to the eye trained in Scripture and Jewish tradition, should say, “This is all about God’s own righteousness” – the point is simply not seen, let alone grasped. Such is the effect of the late-medieval blinkers still worn within the post-Reformation tradition.

4. Then, of course Romans 10:6-13 fails as well. If one is not thinking about God’s faithfulness to the covenant, one might well miss – and the vast majority of exegetes have missed! – the crucial significance of Deuteronomy 30 within its own biblical context and within the re-readings of Scripture in Paul’s day, and the way in which that passage, and the various second temple re-readings of it, including Paul’s, all point to the foundational belief that God is faithful to the covenant and will therefore bring about its renewal at last.

5. Finally, the climactic statements about God in Romans 11 (see Romans 11:22, 32 and of course 33-36) still fail to alert those whose minds are steeped in the theology of a different age to the fact, which even the bare verbal statistics will tell you, that Romans is a book about God, and that the primary thing about God is that he is the God of faithful, just, covenantal love, that this has been unveiled in the gospel message about Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified and risen Messiah, and that through this gospel message, and the radical unveiling of God’s covenant justice and faithfulness, God’s saving power is going out into the world, and will not rest until creation itself is set free from its slavery to corruption and decay and death and shares the liberty of the glory of God’s children. Does the letter fit well on this account, or does it not?