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Since the time of the Reformation, considerable attention has been given to the theme of justification in the thought of the apostle Paul. The ground-breaking work of E.P. Sanders in Paul and Palestinian Judaism, published in 1977, introduced the “new perspective on Paul,” provoking an ongoing debate which is now dominated by major protagonists. Foundational theological issues are at stake.
Mark Seifrid offers a comprehensive analysis of Paul’s understanding of justification, in the light of important themes, including the righteousness of God, the Old Testament law, faith, and the destiny of Israel. A detailed examination of justification in the letter to the Romans is followed by a survey of the entire Pauline corpus. He incorporates a critical assessment of the “new perspective” by challenging its most basic assumptions. He provides an evaluation of the contribution of recent German scholarship. He reaffirms the “Christ-centered” theology of the Reformers. In this wide-ranging exposition of the biblical message of justification, he provides a fresh, balanced reworking of Pauline theology.
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“Both Paul and Luke interpret his conversion as an unconditioned act of God’s mercy, to which Paul brought no preparation but his sins.” (Page 32)
“In looking back upon his preconversion life, he sees that the law was capable of providing a righteousness according to human standards, but not before God and in the heart, where he now knows Christ as Saviour (Phil. 3:7–8).” (Page 27)
“Paul speaks here not of an attribute of God, but of an act of God” (Page 46)
“The fidelity which God displays toward Israel is only one manifestation of the saving righteousness which he exercises as ruler of all.” (Page 40)
“scholar Rudolf Bultmann interpreted the pursuit of ‘works of the law’ as a self-striving to gain God’s approval” (Page 19)
Seifrid understands that the issues turn not only on minute exegesis, but on exegesis that is grounded in central biblical themes and terminology. But he is no slave to mere traditionalism. . . . This book has a prophetic quality.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Mildred and Ernest Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation (1992), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.