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Reading Paul with the Reformers: Reconciling Old and New Perspectives

, 2017
ISBN: 9780802848369

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In debates surrounding the New Perspective on Paul, the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformers are often characterized as the apostle’s misinterpreters in chief. In this book Stephen Chester challenges that conception with a careful and nuanced reading of the Reformers’ Pauline exegesis.

Examining the overall contours of early Reformation exegesis of Paul, Chester contrasts the Reformers with their Roman opponents and explores particular contributions made by such key figures as Luther, Melanchthon, and Calvin. He relates their insights to contemporary debates in Pauline theology about justification, union with Christ, and other central themes, arguing that their work remains a significant resource today.

Being published in the five-hundredth anniversary year of the Protestant Reformation, Reading Paul with the Reformers reclaims a robust, contemporary understanding of how the Reformers really read Paul.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

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Key Features

  • Bridges major gaps in Pauline interpretation
  • Carefully examines the Reformers’ Pauline exegesis
  • Compares the Reformers' Pauline exegesis with the New Perspective on Paul


The Hermeneutics of Reform: Erasmus, Luther, and Contemporary Theological Interpretations of Scripture

  • 1.1 An Apparent or Real Quarrel? Erasmus and Luther on Paul and Peter in Antioch
  • 1.2 Erasmus and Luther on Scripture and Interpretation
  • 1.3. Erasmus, Luther, and the Goals of Contemporary Theological Interpretation
  • 1.4 Erasmus, Luther, and the Conflict of Interpretations
  • 1.5 Erasmus, Luther, and Reception History

The Medieval Context of the Reformers: The Reformers' New Pauline Exegetical Grammar

  • 2.1 Continuity or Discontinuity? The Reformers and Medieval Pauline Interpretation
  • 2.2 Augustine
  • 2.3 Medieval Appropriations of Augustine's Pauline Exegetical Grammar
  • 2.4 The Impact on Luther and the Reaction of the Council of Trent

The Human Plight apart from Christ

  • 3.1 Sin
  • 3.2 The Law
  • 3.3 Conscience
  • 3.4 Summary

Salvation in Christ: The Works of the Law, Grace, and Faith

  • 4.1 Not by the Works of the Law
  • 4.2 Grace
  • 4.3 Faith
  • 4.4 Summary

Alien Righteousness in Christ: The Integration of Justification by Faith and Union with Christ in Martin Luther's Pauline Exegesis

  • 5.1 Luther's account of Justification in its Early Protestant Context
  • 5.2 Interpreting Luther Interpreting Paul
  • 5.3 The Human Plight: Luther's Apocalyptic Anthropology
  • 5.4 Christ Present in Faith: Justification and Union with Christ
  • 5.5 Receiving Christ's Righteousness
  • 5.6 Living an Alien Life
  • 5.7 Faith and Good Works
  • 5.8 Faith and Love
  • 5.9 The Finnish School and Their Opponents
  • 5.10 The Finnish School and Alien Righteousness
  • 5.11 Conclusions and Implications: United with the Victor

Relational Righteousness: Justification on Account of Christ in Philip Melanchthon's Pauline Exegesis

  • 6.1 Melanchthon in the Shadow of Luther
  • 6.2 Melanchthon's Rhetorical Approach to Interpreting Romans
  • 6.3 The Drama of Law and Gospel in Melanchthon's Interpretation of Romans
  • 6.4 Forensic Imagery in Melanchthon's Interpretation of Romans
  • 6.5 Chronological Development in Melanchthon's Interpretation of Justification in Romans
  • 6.6 Melanchthon and Luther on Justification: Contrast or Continuity?
  • 6.7 Exegetical Comparison: Melanchthon and Luther on Justification in Key Pauline Texts
  • 6.8 Justification and Good Works: The Dialog at Pastor Bugenhagen's House
  • 6.9 Conclusion

Righteousness and Reciprocity: Justification and the Works of the Believer in John Calvin's Pauline Exegesis

  • 7.1 Calvin as Pauline Interpreter in the Context of Luther and Melanchthon
  • 7.2 Union with Christ (1): Justification
  • 7.3 Union with Christ (2): Sanctification
  • 7.4 Union with Christ (3): 1 Corinthians 1:30 as an Exegetical Center
  • 7.5 Union with Christ (4): The Spirit and Christ's Humanity
  • 7.6 A Conflict of Errors: Recent Criticism of Calvin's Characterization of Human Response
  • 7.7 Doing but not Meeting
  • 7.8 Unmerited Rewards
  • 7.9 Ecclesial and Social Reciprocity
  • 7.10 Conclusions and Implications: Union at the Center

Mapping Complexity: A Revised Account of the Relationship between Reformation Exegesis and the "New Perspective on Paul"

  • 8.1 The Reformers and the Rhetoric of "The New Perspective"
  • 8.2 Continued Dependence: Pauline Anthropology
  • 8.3 Intensification: "Apocalyptic" Interpretations of Paul
  • 8.4 Intensification: "Covenantal" Interpretations of Paul
  • 8.5 Erroneous Contrast: The Introspective Conscience
  • 8.6 The Heart of the Matter: Judaism and Works of the Law
  • 8.7 Conclusion

Righteousness in Christ: Towards the Reconciliation of the Perspectives

  • 9.1 Staging the Dialog between the Sixteenth and Twenty-First Centuries
  • 9.2 The Gifts of Reformation Exegesis for Contemporary Pauline Theology
  • 9.3 Reformation Exegesis and NPP Scholarship: Richard Hays and the Faith of Jesus Christ
  • 9.4 Reformation Exegesis and NPP Scholarship: Douglas Campbell and the Deliverance of God
  • 9.5 Reformation Exegesis and NPP Scholarship: N.T. Wright and the Faithfulness of God
  • 9.6 Romans 4: An Exegetical Test Case for Reconciling the Perspectives
  • 9.7 Conclusions

Top Highlights

“This confusion can be avoided only if we recognize that the goal of theological interpretation is not to understand Paul, but to understand what the Spirit has said through Paul in his texts as a revelation of Christ.” (Page 37)

“Thus, justifying faith and sanctifying regeneration can both be rooted in union with Christ without implying that the former results from the latter because both depend on grace.” (Page 269)

“Luther typically explains alien righteousness in relation to union with Christ” (Page 176)

“We have now seen that (1) the term the ‘works of the law’ refers generally to the conduct that the law requires, (2) that Paul’s negative characterization of such works in contrast to faith is not in response to what he regards as a misunderstanding of the law, (3) that the ascription of a single meaning or purpose to the law fails adequately to reflect the complex and multi-faceted nature of the conduct required in its relation to all aspects of life, and (4) that one of the functions of works that appears regularly in Second Temple literature is that of ‘getting into the world to come.’” (Page 355)

“As we have seen, however (3.3), neither Luther nor others imagine the preconversion Paul struggling with inability to keep the law. Further, the phrase ‘works of the law’ is not identified with the revelation of sin but rather with the kind of false confidence that one is fulfilling the law possessed by the preconversion Paul.” (Page 342)

Praise for the Print Edition

In this remarkable book, the fruit of many years of reading and reflection, Stephen Chester has made a decisive intervention into Pauline scholarship that significantly alters the terrain…His deep historical research will be honored and admired on all sides, and the rich materials he feeds back into the stream of theological interpretation will surely fertilize Pauline scholarship for many decades to come.

—John M. G. Barclay

  • Title: Reading Paul with the Reformers: Reconciling Old and New Perspectives
  • Author: Stephen J. Chester
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Print Publication Date: 2017
  • Logos Release Date: 2017
  • Pages: 499
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subject: Bible. N.T. Epistles of Paul › Criticism, interpretation, etc.--History--16th century
  • ISBNs: 9780802848369, 0802848362
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T02:36:48Z
Stephen J. Chester

Stephen J. Chester is academic dean and professor of New Testament at North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago, the seminary of the Evangelical Covenant Church. He appreciates North Park as a context where “the life of the mind, the goal of practical ministry, and the need for a deep devotional life are held together as equal values.” Dr. Chester is from the UK and came to North Park in 2006, having previously served on the faculty of International Christian College, Glasgow. He is ordained in the Church of Scotland, and is the author of Conversion at Corinth: Perspectives on Conversion in Paul’s Theology and the Corinthian Church and one of the coauthors of Perspectives on our Struggle with Sin: Three Views of Romans 7. He has become deeply interested in the history of Pauline interpretation and is currently writing Righteousness in Christ: Paul, the Reformers, and the New Perspective (forthcoming).

Dr. Chester’s ministry commitments and experiences have largely been in urban contexts. He is married to Betsy, a kindergarten teacher, and they have two adult sons, Iain and Mark. They are members of Immanuel Evangelical Covenant Church, a multiethnic church in a diverse neighborhood. Stephen enjoys his family, watching and refereeing soccer, and pitching in Chicago softball.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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    Digital list price: $53.99
    Save $11.00 (20%)