In the time since the publication of E. P. Sanders’ seminal work Paul and Palestinian Judaism, numerous publications, reviews, monographs, and analyses of this “New Perspective on Paul” have emerged, exploring covenantal nomism—but, in the estimation of the editors of these two volumes, little new ground has been tread. Editors D. A. Carson, Mark Seifrid, and Peter O’Brien bring together over a dozen experts in these thick volumes to provide a fresh, new look at Paul with special awareness of the literature of Second Temple Judaism. Some of the specific areas treated include literary genre, Josephus, Philo, the Targumim, Rabbinic literature, the Pharisees, and the usage of ‘righteousness language’ in Early Judaism. Comprehensive and deep, the essays in these volumes make a strong case for a reconsideration of the “New Perspective on Paul” and a rare treatment of the ancient literature that influenced this early apostle.
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This volume succeeds in reminding us of the sheer diversity of Second Temple Judaism and warns us that monolithic constructs such as ‘covenantal nomism’ will probably always be distorting, particularly when they are pitted against particular writers such as Paul, who were speaking in the context of a particular Judaism in a particular time and place. In this sense it already seems that this first volume succeeds in setting the question of Paul’s view of the law in a different light than it has often enjoyed in the past quarter-century.
—Ian W. Scott, McMaster University
Represents a concerted effort to provide a more thorough examination of Sanders’s work albeit 25 years after the fact. Anyone interested in Early Judaism, Paul and the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ should consult it. The comprehensive nature of the indexes is outstanding.
—John Byron, University of Durham
The volume constitutes a most useful scholarly contribution. (Its intended audience is clearly other scholars or advanced students, especially those familiar with the debate surrounding the new perspective on Paul.) The collective effect of these essays demonstrates the utility of the exercise as a whole, namely, the analysis of a broad selection of ancient Jewish texts with the common thread being a re-evaluation of Sanders’ concept of covenantal nomism.
—Pamela Eisenbaum, associate professor of biblical studies and Christian origins, Iliff School of Theology
D. A. Carson is a respected professor, author, and speaker. He is currently a research professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has been teaching since 1978. Carson earned an MDiv from Central Baptist Seminary and a PhD in New Testament from Cambridge University. He lectures in academic and church settings around the world.
Carson has written over 50 books, including his popular The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. He has also written commentaries in both The Expositor’s Bible Commentary series and the Pillar New Testament Commentary series.
Peter T. O’Brien is vice principal and head of the New Testament Department at Moore Theological College in Newtown, New South Wales, Australia. An ordained minister in the Anglican Church of Australia, he is the author of Introductory Thanksgiving in the Letters of Paul and of the volume on Colossians and Philemon in the Word Biblical Commentary series.
Mark A. Seifrid has been the Mildred and Earnest Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary since 1992. Author of Justification by Faith and Christ our Righteousness, he is also a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Society of New Testament Studies.