In On Romans and Other New Testament Essays, C. E. B. Cranfield applies his exhaustive understanding of the book of Romans to issues about which there is currently much lively debate. Topics considered include what Paul meant by “the works of the law”, whether Paul meant pistis Christou to be understood as “faith in Christ” or “Christ’s faith", and whether the Old Testament law has a continuing place in the life of the Christian church. Cranfield’s knowledge of the scriptures is here also applied to several key books written by his contemporaries. These response essays help to contextualize the topics in the larger theological community.
Throughout On Romans, Cranfield explores the vital theological implications of seemingly inconsequential academic discussions. He never loses sight of the relevance of theology and of New Testament studies to the life of the church and the Christian in today’s world.
“To conclude, I submit that the explanation of ἔργα νόμου in Romans rejected by Professor Dunn is the true explanation, namely, that it denotes (the doing of) the works which the law requires, obedience to the law; and that, when Paul says that no human being will be justified in God’s sight by works of the law, he means that no one will earn a status of righteousness before God by obedience to the law, because such true obedience is not forthcoming from fallen human beings.” (Pages 13–14)
“Paul’s concern from 1:18 on has surely been to lead up to the conclusion expressed in 3:20a and then restated in the opening lines of the next section in 3:23 (RV: ‘For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God’), namely, that all human beings are sinners (Jesus Christ alone excepted) whose only possibility of being righteous before God is by God’s free gift accepted in faith; and his concern in 2:1–3:19 is not primarily to polemicize against Jews (Dunn speaks of ‘Paul’s polemic here’),15 but rather to draw out the full meaning of 1:18–32 by demonstrating that there are no exceptions to its sweeping judgment—even the Jews who might not without reason think of themselves as superior to the pagan world around are no exception.” (Page 6)
“In view of what has been said above, the conclusion seems to me inevitable that Dunn’s interpretation of 3:20 must be rejected. The meaning of 3:20 is surely, as others have long recognized, that justification before God on the ground of one’s obedience to the law is not a possibility for fallen human beings, since none of them is righteous and the effect of the law is to show up their sin as sin and themselves as sinners.” (Page 8)
Professor Cranfield has no masters, and few, if any, equals in this generation, as an interpreter of Romans.
—R.S. Barbour, Scottish Journal of Theology
This is one of the finest volumes of collected essays that I have ever had the privilege of reviewing.
—Stanley E. Porter, Journal for the Study of the New Testament
… a model of clarity.
—Gerald R. Winslow, Seminary Studies
There is a feeling of passionate cut and thrust in all these New Testament debates to which Professor Cranfield contributes.
—Geoffrey Harris, Epworth Review
C. E. B. Cranfield (1915– ) is one of the best-known New Testament scholars in the world. He served as an army chaplain in World War II, a pastor to prisoners of war, and a minister before teaching for 30 years as professor emeritus of theology at the University of Durham in England (1950–1980).
He is the author of many essays, sermons, and commentaries, including The Apostles’ Creed: A Faith to Live By, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, and On Romans and Other New Testament Essays.