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Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics
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Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics


Eerdmans 2004

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Here, finally, is a much-needed review and analysis of the divergent interpretations of Paul. With a clear head and winsome sense of humor, Stephen Westerholm compares the traditional understanding of Paul to more recent readings, drawing on the writings of key figures in the debate both past and present.

Westerholm first offers a detailed portrait of the “Lutheran” Paul, including the way such theologians as Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley have traditionally interpreted “justification by faith” to mean that God declares sinners righteous by his grace apart from works. Westerholm then explores how Paul has fared in the twentieth century, in which New Perspective readings of Paul see him teaching that Gentiles need not become Jews or observe Jewish law to be God’s people. The final section of the book looks anew at disputed areas of Paul’s theological language and offers compelling discussion on the place of both justification by faith and Mosaic law in divine redemption.

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Key Features

  • Compares traditional readings of Paul to modern interpretations
  • Examines the New Perspective readings of Paul
  • Offers compelling discussions on Paul’s theological language


  • Portraits of the “Lutheran” Paul
    • Augustine
    • Martin Luther
    • John Calvin
    • John Wesley
    • A Portrait of the “Lutheran” Paul
  • Twentieth-Century Responses to the “Lutheran” Paul
    • Paul’s “Polemical Doctrine”: Wrede and Schweitzer
    • The Faith of Paul’s Fathers: Montefiore, Schoeps, and Sanders
    • Paul’s Robust Conscience: Kümmel and Stendahl
    • The “Righteousness of the Law”: Bultmann, Wilckens, and Sanders
    • The “Hobgoblin” of Consistency: Drane, Hübner, and Räisänen
    • Saint Paul against the Lutherans: Wright, Dunn, and Donaldson
    • “Lutheran” Responses
    • Other Perspectives
    • The Quotable Anti-“Lutheran” Paul
  • The Historical and the “Lutheran” Paul
    • Matters of Definition, 1: “Righteousness” in Paul
    • Matters of Definition, 2: The “Law” in Paul
    • Matters of Definition, 3: Grace in Sanders’s Judaism
    • “Justification by Faith” in Paul’s Thought: The Evidence in Review
    • The Law in God’s Scheme
    • Grace Abounding to Sinners or Erasing Ethnic Boundaries?

Praise for the Print Edition

This eagerly awaited volume is a gem. After years of debate about the ‘new perspective,’ a debate bogged down with multiple confusions, Stephen Westerholm describes and analyzes all the main viewpoints on Paul’s theology of law, grace, and justification from Augustine onward. With enviable clarity, incisive observation, and shafts of humor, Westerholm reaffirms and refines the ‘old perspective’ while also incorporating the strong points of the new.

John Barclay, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, Durham University

Written with sparkling humor, this book is a landmark work both in its treatment of the vast scholarly literature and in its crisp exegesis of Paul himself. Perspectives Old and New on Paul is proof again, if proof were needed, that Stephen Westerholm is still head and shoulders above almost everyone else as an interpreter of Paul.

Simon J. Gathercole, senior lecturer in New Testament studies and director of studies at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University

With his clear head and winsome sense of humor, Westerholm has once again produced one of the most insightful and readable studies available on the role of the Mosaic law, divine grace, and Christian faith in Pauline theology.

Frank Thielman, Presbyterian Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Product Details

About Stephen Westerholm

Stephen Westerholm is professor of biblical studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. His other books include Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans, 2nd ed., Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline Theme, and Israel’s Law and the Church’s Faith: Paul and His Recent Interpreters.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition