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A Review of Udo Schnelle and Francis Watson on Paul

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Since E. P. Sanders introduced the “new perspective” on Paul, Lutherans have had to ask again: did Luther understand Paul on the Mosaic law? The two books reviewed here carry forward the discussion Sanders began. Udo Schnelle's Apostle Paul makes two methodological choices with dramatic consequences for understanding Paul's theology and letters: 1) Paul was in direct dialogue with the Greco-Roman culture of the cities where he preached the gospel and founded churches, and 2) Paul's Christology, ethics, and eschatology developed and changed in relation to the religious and political crises through which he struggled. Francis Watson's Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith makes an obvious but novel decision to focus on the five books of Moses as read by Paul in dialogue with other contemporary Jewish interpreters, arguing that Paul's view of the “law” is his counter-reading of the five books of Torah. Paul's hermeneutic exploits tensions and anomalies in the text of Torah itself, enabling him to emphasize God's promise, not the human deeds of scriptural heroes.
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Keywords: Francis Watson; Martin Luther; Paul; Udo Schnelle

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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