New book on NPP

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by arapahoepark, Jul 24, 2017.

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  1. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

  2. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    Looks like a good read. I will have to add it to my list.
  3. Douglas P.

    Douglas P. Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm curious if anyone has read this book. If there is anything that I'm at all persuaded by from the NPP its what Dr. Cara has labeled as "point one" of his "five main points of NPP", that being that Paul was not arguing against a legalistic works righteousness view.

    When I read Galatians & Romans I just can't see the classic reformed view. It seems far more natural to see the Judaizers error to be one of trying to make a temporary covenant permanent so to say, instead of claiming that the Judaizers were trying to teach salvation through keeping the Law.
  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Except that the classic reformed viewpoint deals with Pauline Justification in a much better way then the NPP does, as the NPP seems to really undercut the impact of wehat the death of Jesus meant for sinners to now be saved by that act.
  5. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I haven't read the book.

    Even if one is convinced that the Judaizers as a whole were not bent on a thoroughgoing reinstitution of Moses within the Christian movement, it seems to me that Paul attacked the implication of accepting circumcision as a condition of full-salvation. This appears to be the polemic here in Gal.5:3, "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law." For Paul, the offense was adding even one thing to justification by faith, Gal.3:3, "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"

    If in one crucial entry matter, defection from apostolic teaching could be achieved by the Judaizers, it would rehabilitate Moses (as Moses, not as touching the moral law) for use by the church. And in the end, Christianity would stand beside Phariseeism, Sadduceeism, Herodians, Essenes, or at worst the Samaritans, as a sect of Judaism broadly conceived. Christianity would then be described in its own internal divisions by those who were more or less faithful to Moses.

    For my part, I'm convinced Paul could see the implications of not-opposing the Judaizers from the start and drawing out the dangerous implications of this theology. From the time he confronted Peter in Antioch, to the Judaizers' dogged trailing of Paul in his church-planting, I don't think there's a letter he wrote a church where we do not see clues to the inoculation he gave everywhere from his second-journey forward. (I think Galatians was his first letter, and he wrote it after he became aware of Galatian-drift, and realized the lengths his opposition was going to undermine his gospel).
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  6. Douglas P.

    Douglas P. Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Rev. Buchanan for taking the time to respond.

    This is what I'm not convinced of. Galatians 2:15-16 seems to clearly state (as I read it) that if there is one thing that all Jews know (or knew at the time of Paul writing this letter), it is that they are not justified by works of the law.

    "We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ."

    This is why I'm curious as to what Dr. Cara has to say on this issue. From what the original NPPers have argued there is little-to-no evidence (based on second temple literature) to suggest that the Judaizers were characteristically "legalistic", that is teaching eschatological justification by keeping the Mosaic covenant. The more I have studied Paul and the Law the more I am convinced that they are right (on this one point) and that the Judaizers problem, or maybe better put, Paul's problem with the Judaizers was that they were teaching that you first had to enter into Moses' covenant before you could receive the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant.

    As a tangential note, this is why I am very sympathetic to a Klineian covenant theology as it sees to fit with this sort of reading of Paul.

    I agree, as I stated, I am only persuaded by point one of the five points, and I don't think the NPP view on justification necessarily follows point one.
  7. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Then read the book maybe you'll be convinced. It builds on top of Justification and Variegated Nomism and Barclay's Paul and the Gift. Have you read either? Thielman on Paul and the law is quite good as well that incorporates some NPP stuff in places yet he still comes to the conclusion as the latter two though Barclay has thorough if not exhaustively laid out the types of variegated 'graces' present in the second temple period.
  8. Douglas P.

    Douglas P. Puritan Board Freshman

    It'll be on my to do list some day, but until I get the time to dive back into this subject with any real vigor I was just curious if anyone had any insights. I have read a few brief summaries of Justification and Variegated Nomism but I don't own the book. Another one on my to do list.
  9. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    The problem Paul had with the Judaizers was that there were undercutting and negating the Gospel of Grace, as they were attempting to have us now saved and made right before God by mixing the law and Grace. They would have been much like many today who see getting saved as a mixture of obeying the law and grace, as in must add to the Gospel things such as water baptism, speaking in tongues, keeping Saturday Sabbath etc.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017
  10. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Barring some explanation, myself I wouldn't assume MGK is especially relevant.

    I certainly won't argue as if that "orderly-covenant-entrance" perspective has no merit. The Judaizers were definitely attempting to get the Gentiles to "complete themselves" in their attachment to the covenant-hope. The extent of their collective purpose may not have been monolithic in the minds of individuals promoting the ideas.

    Perhaps few had thought-through the full implications of their position. But I think Paul had, and he was opposing this move at making Big-Tent Judaism billowing enough to contain the Christians. And he was making his opposition extreme at the very inception, when the deviation wasn't that "extreme." It was just circumcision, "Circumcision is even Abrahamic, man; what's your problem?" Paul, however, could see where this thing was heading, even before it was patently obvious to others.

    Looks like you're quoting the NIV there, or maybe CSB, I can't be sure; but in this case I'm afraid it's a poor translation.

    They've rendered the participle, εἰδότες, that leads off v16 as the primary verb of a sentence (that goes longer, as one may see by the ESV, NASB, ASV, or the KJV/NKJ, to name a few). We care so much about readability these days, that we're sacrificing accuracy. Take a look at the old KJV, they do a pretty good job at rendering Gk syntax into En, while navigating Paul's at-times convoluted clauses.

    In vv15-16 Paul is either continuing with quoting himself talking to Peter, or he's setting himself in the first person to talk to the Greek-speaking Galatians/Gentiles. Either way, he's referencing a Jew or Jews in one category, while keeping the other category in view.

    But, there's more than just this category; there's the fact that he's a Christian (and so would be Peter), as well as chronologically and geographically they are "in the faith" before any of the Gentiles, and they have a duty to convey the truth to them without trucking along their baggage from Judaism.

    He's saying "Over here in this category, we're Jewish and Christian. Over there, those are Gentile and Christian." He says "by nature" he's Jewish, precisely because he doesn't want to say anything more than that is his meaning. He works so hard at forging the one-new-man from the two, Eph.2:15.

    He doesn't say: "Any and all of us who have a Jewish background know already that man is not justified by works of the law." No, that is not the force of his language. He's talking of Christians who were first Jews, Jews who became the first Christians. Jesus came at a time when proper relation to the Law was at an all-time low; and offered himself as the ultimate contrast.

    That there were Jews even before the cross who did not succumb to the prevalent legalism that dominated the Judaism of that era, I do not doubt. But also that the error was dominant I do not doubt; and if you do, then perhaps review Jesus' parable, Lk.18:9-14, which makes of the Pharisee a legal paradigm. And if we can take Paul at his word, he was a perfect Pharisee of this kind, Php3:5.

    Following the actual syntax of the Gk, "We of the Jew-kind--we who know (knowing) the true doctrine of justification, that it is not by works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ--even we have believed [primary verb] in Christ to be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; the works of the law justify no one."

    So, in the enthememetic construction, what is the reasonable unstated portion of his argument? "If even we Jews, steeped in the law, can be brought to see that faith alone justifies--how can we try to put our old yoke, even just one splinter of it, on the Gentiles?" (Especially you, Peter, who have yourself moved to lay it aside so you can live more freely! v14).

    In confronting Peter, the matter was eating and drinking. With the Galatians and others, the issue on the table was circumcision. But the same principle was in operation, as far as Paul was concerned. Something was being added to faith in Christ for the establishment of a right, or of the best relationship. In Paul's all-or-nothing thinking, those might as well be the same.

    Whether you see him opposing "two-tier" Christianity, or a Christianity that excludes those who fail to make the final "leap" for the sake of Moses, either one is ultimately fatal to the true message of Christianity.
  11. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Judaism at the time of the Coming of Jesus seemed to me to be really holding to works as a basis to be right with God, and also claiming ethnic relationship to be right with God, for Jesus and John the Baptist seem to address that Jews could not relying upon just being born Jewish, not just keeping the rules and rituals as a means to being saved.

    The religious leaders had so co mingled and mixed into their religion the views of God and their own views that it became pretty much a dead end and worthless one when Paul thundered unto the scene.
  12. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I just received this book yesterday and I've read the first 50 pages. So far it is excellent. I will let you know what I think of the entirety when I finish.
  13. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Doug, your reading of Galatians 2 overlooks the significance of the last clause "but by faith in Jesus Christ." If there is one thing that ethnic Jews did NOT believe in the first century, it is that people are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. He cannot be talking about ethnic unconverted Jews in this context. So Bruce's reading of the category in view in the first part of verse 15 HAS to be correct. The "Jews by birth" have to be those born Jews but then converted to Christianity. Therefore, Paul is not making a statement about Judaistic belief here.

    On another note, if the Variegated Nomism books have taught us anything, it is that there were many kinds of nomism in first-century Judaism, including legalistic ones.

    Ironically, even E.P. Sanders proves this point. His version of covenantal nomism as a category for describing first-century Judaism is itself legalistic! If one gets in by grace, and stays in by works, that is still legalism! As Paul would say, we don't start by grace, and end up in works/flesh (Galatians 3:3 says, "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"). This points out the fact that Sanders didn't have a clue about systematic theology.
  14. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    There is a famous joke about the Talmud that goes something like this:

    A Jew is talking to his Rabbi. Rabbi,” the man said, “Explain the Talmud to me.”
    “Very well,” he said. “First, I will ask you a question. If two men climb up a chimney and one comes out dirty, and one comes out clean, which one washes himself?”

    “The dirty one,” answers the man.

    “No. They look at each other and the dirty man thinks he is clean and the clean man thinks he is dirty, therefore, the clean man washes himself." Now, another question:
    If two men climb up a chimney and one comes out dirty, and one comes out clean, which one washes himself?”

    The man smiles and says, “You just told me, Rabbi. The man who is clean washes himself because he thinks he is dirty.”

    “No,” says the Rabbi. “If they each look at themselves, the clean man knows he doesn’t have to wash himself, so the dirty man washes himself.” “Now, one more question.
    If two men climb up a chimney and one comes out dirty, and one comes out clean, which one washes himself?”

    “I don’t know, Rabbi. Depending on your point of view, it could be either one.”

    Again the Rabbi says, “No. If two men climb up a chimney, how could one man remain clean? They both are dirty, and they both wash themselves.”

    The confused man said, “Rabbi, you asked me the same question three times and you gave me three different answers. Is this some kind of a joke?”

    “This is not a joke, my son. This is the Talmud.”

    Much of second temple literature is in this same vein, and so it is extremely questionable to use non-inspired sources that are often as clear as mud to overthrow the very clear and unambiguous testimony of inspired Scripture.
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  15. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    The Apostle Paul seemed to be attacking the Judaizers directly on the issue of how a sinner is saved and reconciled back to God, more so than How we can identify one already saved and in relationship with God.
  16. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    I have an acquaintance who moved from NY to Israel in his late 20s. Became an Orthodox Jew for some years and returned to the USA in his late 50s after 30 years in Israel. He was no longer practicing orthodoxy but still observes Shabbat faithfully. There was absolutely nothing in this fellow's attitudes or behavior that would indicate he was a believer in anything save this observance.
    When I read of E.P. Sanders on Judaism I realized that my acquaintance equates the Jewish Sabbath observance with all he needs for righteousness. At least that is my take on it.
  17. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Jesus had His biggest issues when dealing with Pharisees and scribes who had made getting/being right with God as being a self righteous system of law keeping and good works, at the expense of really knowing God from a heart position.
  18. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    Well that is my point. My 'friend's' religious observances mirrors that of the Pharisees though to a much lesser extant. Seems to me that the mindset is similar, if not identical.
  19. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Dr. Cara is ARP and he gave out this book to all ARP ministers for free at our General Synod.

    I still need to read it.
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