In the preface and opening chapter, Zetterholm makes clear what his overarching goal is for writing the book, it is to inform readers of the various and incompatible views of Paul’s relationship with Judaism. There are really only two competing views that Zetterholm deals with. There are those of the “old” view, who maintain Paul’s separation with Judaism following his Demascus road experience (conversion). Then there are those who see the continuity of Paul’s Judaism after he was converted. Throughout the entire book, the author has in mind which of these positions is most consistent with the historical Paul. Those looking for absolute resolutions to modern conflicts in Pauline scholarship will be disappointed with this book because what Zetterholm does not want the book to be is an exhaustive exposition of Paul’s life and theology. He seeks to provide a coherent explanation of why Pauline scholarship has transpired the way it has in recent time. He divides the book into eight chapters in the following order: Paul and History, the Emergence of a Paradigm, the Formation of the Standard View of Paul, Toward a New Perspective on Paul, Beyond the New Perspective, In Defense of Protestantism, Breaking Boundaries, and Conclusion — History and Paul.
The first chapter deals primarily with introducing the reader to Paul and the contradicting perspectives concerning Christian and Jewish relation in Paul’s theology. Zetterholm launches the discussion between the old and new perspective here. Chapter 2 examines Hegel’s influence in the Tübingen School, especially F. C. Baur and his influence in modern Pauline scholarship. He also looks at anti-Semitism in the past within secular and Christian contexts. The following chapter examines the historical progress of the traditional view through Rudolf Bultmann and his continuance of the old perspective’s outlook on Paul and his departure from Judaism. Bultmann’s view, concludes Zetterholm, remains the standard view on Paul. Chapter 4 focuses on the development and theology of “the new perspective on Paul,” which he traces back to the works of Krister Stendahl, E.P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, and N. T. Wright. Moreover, he finds this new paradigm to be a kind of middle ground in Pauline scholarship; it departs from the old perspective with its rejection of the Lutheran law and gospel distinction, yet, in the final analysis, maintains a different approach to the old Paul and Judaism distinction. Appropriately, Zetterholm then follows the Pauline trend in modern education with progressive approaches to Paul, in which some theologians have completely erased the distinction between Paul and Judaism. In other words, Paul remained a Torah observing Jew even after his Demascus road experience. The modern theologians explored in this chapter are Lloyd Gaston, Peter J. Tomson, Stanley Stowers, Mark D. Nanos, and Caroline Johnson Hodge. The next chapter deals with the reactions from those who maintain a traditional reading of the Pauline corpus. Zetterholm goes through the works of several scholars: Frank S. Thielman, A. Andrew Das, Simon J. Gathercole, and Stephen Westerholm. Chapter 7, with the ever-increasing development of a new Pauline paradigm, he surveys the emergence of “different multidisciplinary approaches” (p. 12). Philosophical, postcolonial, and feminist approaches make up the content of this chapter. Zetterholm in the last chapter appraises the differing perspectives and seeks to explain why they have emerged on the scene. His solution is for Pauline scholars to fine meaning and truth through the various interpretations of Paul and his relationship with Judaism to gain a better perspective, and “a new dominant paradigm will perhaps eventually emerge” (p. 240).
II. Annotated Bibliography
Source: Zetterholm, Magnus. Approaches to Paul: a student’s guide to recent scholarship. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009.
Chapter 1 – Paul and History – pgs 1-32
1. Introduction: In the opening pages of Zetterholm’s project, he aims to take his readers into the recent “approaches to Paul” which centers on the discussion of whether or not Paul maintained his Jewish background. He introduces here briefly the traditional position and the antithesis view.
a. Traditional view: This is the understanding that Paul ultimately presents Christianity as being antithetical to Judaism. At its core, it sees Christianity as a grace religion and Judaism as a legalistic one.
b. Antithesis view: It is a reaction against the traditional view and poses questions as to whether alternatives readings of Paul can be more comprehensive.
2. Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles: This section highlights the importance of Paul’s letter to the Romans because, as he notes, it “is an excellent starting point for introducing the interpretive problems of Paul’s relation to Judaism” (p. 3). Romans is unique to say the least in that it is the only letter in which Paul is not writing to a church that he helped establish. Furthermore, the letter emanates questions about Judaism that many proposed interpretations have endeavored to answer.
3. The Elusive Paul: Zetterholm here explores why it may be so difficult to interpret Romans. He notes that the chief intention of Romans seems to be undefined by simply reading the letter. Consequently, similar to the problem of historical study, “…there are many historical issues that cannot be determined only from the ancient tests” (p. 4). Two conflicting assumptions affect the explanation of the text; one is to see it as simply a theological discourse and the other as Paul’s “answer to specific problems that had come up in the community” (p. 5). Accordingly, there are two additional assumptions that must be taken into account, the letter’s audience. “Is he speaking to
4. Paul and Judaism: The dawn of the twentieth-century brought about suspicions of the traditional view. These suspicions eventually led to an advance in Pauline scholarship in the latter part of the twentieth-century; namely, the research development of putting Paul in his second temple Jewish context. The aftermath of World War II and the anti-Semitic influence of the traditional perspective were responsible for the advance in research.
5. The Aim and Outline of this Book: Zetterholm’s overall intention is to present the contradictory views pertaining to Paul and Judaism, one that sees Paul departing from his Jewish roots to embrace Christianity and the other sees him continuing in his Jewish roots, which the salvation of non-Jews becomes the main hindrance. He attempts to understand the variegated perspective and assess which is more historically comprehensive. “The aim of this book is to attempt to explain how Paul’s relation to Judaism can be understood in two very different ways and to explore which approach is likely to produce the most historically plausible picture of Paul and the development of the early Jesus movement” (p. 10).
Chapter 2 – The Emergence of a Paradigm – pgs 33-67
1. The Tübingen School and German Idealism: This section deals with influence of the nineteenth-century German philosopher Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel and his influence on one particular school, the Tübingen School.
a. Hegel and Dialectics: Hegel’s philosophical idealism promulgated that ideas are continually evolving to greater phases. This evolution occurs when an idea faces its contrary idea to form a better idea. In other words, “Every thesis generates its antithesis, and these two opposites are joined in a synthesi.” (p. 34).
b. F. C. Baur and the Tübingen School: Hegel’s philosophical premise, which rendered all things past, including theology, as inferior in the evolutionary progress of history, influenced the Tübingen School professor Ferdinand Christian Baur. He, as a consequent, influenced David Friedrich Strauss, who sought to explain Christianity from a non-supernatural perspective, with his Hegelian idealism. According to Zetterholm, Baur and Strauss’ import of Hegelian idealism into theology, “laid the foundation for modern biblical scholarship” (p. 37).
c. Baur and History—Jew versus Christian: Again, Baur’s Hegelism shows up at the forefront of his research. The consequence of Baur in history is his view of the radical separation between Christianity and Judaism, with the assumption that Judaism is substandard to Christianity.
2. Anti-Semitism in Antiquity: This portion of the chapter moves into a discussion of anti-Semitism in history, the Jewish and non-Jewish relationships. It includes Judaism’s relationship with the secular world and non-Jewish Christians.
a. Pre-Christian Attitudes: Jewish and non-Jewish relationships before Christians came on the scene (antiquity) were bittersweet in nature. On the one hand, Jewish customs were regarded as worthy of reverence and Rome safeguarded them from excessive persecutions from their neighbors. Yet, on the other hand, some strongly opposed their Jewish effects on society and were afraid that Jews would promote rebellion among the people.
b. Christian Anti-Semitism: The non-Jewish Christians faced a situation even more peculiar than those of non-Christians did, due to their unique association with Judaism. After all, their messiah was a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. This meant of course that Roman assaults aimed at the Jews was also now directed towards non-Jewish Christians because Christianity was so closely connected to Judaism. With such pressure from Rome, non-Jewish Christians increasingly disassociated themselves from the Jews and much even demonstrated hostility towards them.
3. Law versus Grace—Luther and Protestantism: As the tension between Judaism and Christianity grew, some important theological formulation emerge that will eventually be the fulcrum of Protestantism; namely, the distinction between law and grace. Zetterholm surveys the discussion of sin and grace in the early church and Martin Luther’s view of Judaism.
a. The Early Church and the Problem of Sin and Grace: The Pelagian controversy is here examined and postulated as the beginning of the traditional paradigm, namely, the separation of Judaism as being dependant on the law and Christianity on grace.
b. Martin Luther, Grace, and the Jews: Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone, according to Zetterholm, is the primary doctrine that has led to the division between Paul and Judaism. This is also evident in Luther’s anti-Semitic polemics against the Jews of his time.
4. Nineteenth-Century Effects: In continuance of the Lutheran view of Paul and Judaism, Ferdinand Weber, wanting to be a missionary to the Jewish community, conducted a research on Jewish texts, from which he formulated a systematic theology.
a. The Myth of Jewish Legalism: Ferdinand Weber and the Scales of Balance: Assuming the division Christianity and Judaism, Weber concludes in his research that Judaism is essentially a religion which is dependent on deeds for its salvation before God, but it does not have a means of assurance.
b. The Influence of Weber: The two prominent theologians influenced by Weber are Emil Schürer and Wilhelm Bousset. They both come to the same conclusion that legalistic Judaism is inferior to grace-Christianity.
Chapter 3 – The Formation of the Standard View on Paul – pgs 69-93
1. Rudolf Bultmann: Zetterholm in chapter 3 examines the crucial connection between the dogma that Judaism was primarily a works oriented religion and the traditional view of Paul. He begins by analyzing one of the major theologians of the twentieth-century, Rudolf Bultmann. Zetterholm maintains, “Bultmann is central in the development of the traditional view of Paul that was firmly established in the middle of the twentieth-century” (p. 69). At this time, the liberal theology that was sweeping across Europe found itself in a peculiar relationship with Lutheranism. They rejected all things Lutheran, yet the Lutheran presupposition of justification by faith and Jewish and Christian antithesis remained.
a. Theologian and Biblical Scholar: The existential philosopher Martin Hidegger’s influence on Bultmann encouraged him to formulate his own type of existentialism in the realm of theological discipline. He argued that the actual historicity of Christianity is a matter of no importance, in fact, it is a hindrance to what really mattered: “the kerygma – the message of the death of Jesus and his victory over death” (p. 71).
1. Bultmann on Judaism: According to Zetterholm, Bultmann’s radical liberalism is a product of Luther’s theology of justification by faith. Moreover, Bultmann maintained Luther’s low view of Judaism. For Bultmann, evident in his work, Das Urchristentum im Rahmen der antiken Religionen (Primitive Christianity in its Historical Setting), Judaism has given up all its culpability of the present because of its focus on history, in the past and in the eschaton. What he is implying of course is God’s complete detachment from the Jews in the present. With the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, Bultmann claims, the Jewish placed a greater emphasis in the law, therefore, losing their present union with God. In other words, Judaism became primarily a legalistic religion trying to work itself to a transcendent God. Furthermore, he accuses the Jews of twisting Scripture to their own means because their scribes provided only various interpretations of the Torah with explicitly stating which one was the correct interpretation. Therefore, Jews could essentially follow that which suited their best interests. However, there was one universal law amongst them; the lex taliones principle, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (p. 74).
2. Bultmann on Paul: This works-merit oriented system is the basis for one’s justification before God in Jewish thought. Bultmann’s understanding of Pauline theology follows such underlying presuppositions regarding Judaism. Zetterholm observes that Bultmann’s understanding of justification is in complete agreement with the Lutheran perspective, which of course sees an opposition between God’s grace and the law. This means that Judaism is the primitive one of the two religions. It is ultimately dependant on the Torah for its redemption. Christianity, however, possessed a better and greater revelation through grace in Jesus Christ. With this background come Bultmann’s two most important disciples, Ernst Käsemann and Günther Bornkamm.
b. The Bultmann School
1. Ernst Käsemann: Käsemann, who responds to Stendahl in his book “Paulinische Perspektiven (Perspective on Paul) supports the Bultmannian position of Paul’s relationship with Judaism. However, he in some respect deviates from Bultmann. For instance, unlike like Bultmann, he emphasized that justification is not strictly a one-time grace from God, but it is also a life-transforming one. Nevertheless, in the final analyzes, he remained convinced of the Lutheran distinction between law and gospel
2. Günther Bornkamm: Like Käsemann, Günther Bornkamm deviated from Bultmann is some areas, but maintained the Lutheran distinction between law and gospel.
c. Paul versus Judaism:
1. The Standard View on Paul and Judaism:
2. Early Protest: With Bultmann, Käsemann, and Bornkamm exemplifying the normative position on Paul and Judaism, in which Paul completely separates from Judaism, Zetterholm notes that crucial Pauline “justification” passages may have other possible explanations, other than the Lutheran framework. Hence, it inevitable protests emerged from the Lutheran paradigm of law and gospel in Paul. The first to object were Claude Joseph Goldsmid Montefiore, Salomon, and George Foot Moore. They all concluded that the standard view of Paul was in error regarding its assumption of legalism in Judaism. On the contrary, Judaism did in fact contain a grace atoning sacrifice in its system.
Chapter 4 – Toward a New Perspective on Paul – pgs 95-126
1. A Changed World: The holocaust and Stendahl’s scholarship are the preamble of the new reworking and paradigms in Pauline thought.
a. The Post-War Era: Zetterholm here assumes a fundamental change in perspective in Pauline scholarship with the emergence of World War II. Theologians recognizing “a direct relationship between the anti-Jewish Christian theology and the industrialized mass murder of six million Jews” (p. 95), felt increasing pressure to establish ecumenical dialogues with Jews. Several councils convened to accomplish this purpose, but no full resolutions emerged. However, some were optimistic to find possible synthesis between Christianity and Judaism.
b. Exegetical Reorientation—Krister Stendahl: the Lutheran scholar Kriter Stendahl questioned the traditional interpretation of Paul’s relationship with Judaism. Unlike his Lutheran contemporaries, Stendahl “makes a clear distinction between the original meaning of the text, its impact on society during the course of history (Wirkungsgeschichte), and the meaning it may have for the present-day church” (p. 98). He argues that Luther’s struggle with medieval Catholicism is not Paul’s struggle with Judaism. Stendahl’s critique eventually becomes an inspiration for the new perspective(s).
2. The Prerequisite—A New View on Judaism:
a. E. P. Sanders and Covenantal Nomism: E. P. Sanders comes after Stendahl and produces one of the most influential works in twentieth-century Pauline scholarship, Paul and Palestinian Judaism. Sanders commits a great deal of research in Palestinian Jewish texts in the time of Paul to determine the normative initiation, intermediate state, and completion of its religious standards. He concludes that Judaism is essentially based on “covenantal nomism.”
i. The Pattern of Religion: Sanders attempted to find second temple Judaism’s common practices, i.e., the beginning, middle, and end of their religion. In other words, he sought to understand how one enters the covenant, remain in the covenant, and to what outcome.
ii. Covenantal Nomism: Over against the Lutheran outlook, Sanders points out that Judaism is not based on strict legalism, but is rather characterized by what he calls “covenantal nomism.” Covenantal nomism is the view that God’s selection of the Jewish nation, in which God makes a covenant with them, is the basis for their salvation and obedience to the Torah is the requirement for staying in the covenant. In other words, Judaism is a religion of grace, not works-righteousness.
3. New Perspectives on Paul: These views are the results of Sanders’ new understanding of the Judaism in Paul’s time, which include Räisäsen, Dunn, and Wright. It all begins with Sanders.
a. From Solution to Plight—Sanders on Paul: Here, Sanders sees a reversal of traditional soteriology, which saw in Paul an explanation of the problem and then the solution.
b. The Inconsistent Paul—Heikki Räisänen: Guided by Sanders’ “covenantal nomism,” Heikki Räisäsen takes the baton from Sanders, but runs a different course in terms of his conclusion. According to Räisänen, Paul’s theology is contradictory in nature; Paul maintains a correct understanding of Jewish covenantal nomism, yet he argued for illogical conclusions. Like Sanders, Räisänen deviates from the traditional view, but cannot bridge the differences between Paul and Sanders new Jewish paradigm.
c. The New Perspective on Paul—James D. G. Dunn: Next in line to attempt to reconcile the chasm posed by Sanders, Dunn fundamentally agrees with Sanders premise – covenantal nomism – but disagrees with his conclusion that Paul distances himself from Judaism. Nevertheless, as Zetterholm points out, Dunn’s resolution to Sanders problem is itself problematic, and it fails to escape the distinction between Paul and Judaism. Dunn’s main contribution is his redefinition of “works of the law” in Paul’s letters. He argues that “works of the law” are equivalent to “Jewish identity markers.” Hence, what Paul is contending against in Galatians “was Jewish particularism, the tendency of defining the covenant in ethnic terms…” (p. 116). In other words, Paul is arguing against a particular view of Judaism that made the covenant accessible to only ethnic Jews. Jewish identity makers are now obsolete, and the new identity marker is faith in Christ. In this respect, Dunn has assumed the distinction between Paul and Judaism as well.
d. The Consistent Paul—N. T. Wright: Likewise, Wright maintains the idea that Jews, instead of extending the covenant throughout the world, limited it within an ethnic Jewish framework. Wright states, with the coming of Jesus Christ, that the church, those who have faith in Christ, has in essence, replaced national Israel, composing of Jews and non-Jews. Furthermore, it is Wright’s main objects to rework a number of Pauline themes. He modifies the traditional understanding of monotheism in Paul, election, eschatology, and the synthesis of Paul and Jesus’ theology. Both Wright and Dunn seem to hold to a middle position that maintains Sanders’ theological revision of Judaism and the Lutheran opposition of Paul and Judaism.
Chapter 5 – Beyond the New Perspective – pgs 127-163
1. Paul and the Parallel Covenants—Lloyd Gaston: Convinced also by Sander’s revolutionary understanding of Paul and second temple Judaism, Lloyd Gaston comes on the scene with Sander’s approach, but reaches radically deviates from his conclusions. Gaston points to the Holocaust as a major turning point for reworking past theologies. All past Christian anti-Semitism needs to addressing and Christian theology must develop accordingly. Part of this reworking is the need to see Paul as not departing from Judaism, but only assuming a position outside of it to include the Gentiles in God’s overarching plan of redemption.
2. Paul and Halakah—Peter J. Tomson: Similar in approach to Gaston, proposes a reading of Pauline letters as if they were part of Jewish literatures. In this manner, he deviates from Sanders’ interpretation of Paul; namely, his presupposition that Paul parted ways with Judaism. His work displays a synthesis with Paul’s view of justification and his view of halakah, both of which serve to give gentile believer’s “equal rights” in the church. This means that both Jesus believing Jews and non-Jews are required to observe the Torah and Christ.
3. Paul and Self-Control—Stanley Stowers: Recognizing the Torah’s inability to save gentile believers, Stanley Stowers attempts to explain as to why this is the case. From his perspective, non-Jewish believers cannot attain righteousness from the Torah because it was exclusively for the Jewish believers with their particular covenant with God. Thus his Paul, like Gaston and Tomson, remained Jewish, but his Paul had differing interpretations of God’s plan of redemption.
4. Paul, the Jew Among the Nations—Mark D. Nanos: Coming from a Jewish scholar, his interpretation of the Paul and Jewish paradigm is in complete opposition to the traditional view. Zetterholm sums up his position, stating, “Not only does Nanos argue that Paul was loyal to Judaism and even observed the Torah, but also that he held that non-Jewish followers of Jesus should be compelled to respect the Torah and, in addition, adapt a Jewish lifestyle out of respect for their Jewish brothers and sisters” (p. 148). For Nanos, Paul’s main problem in the early church is establishing a unified church despite a multiplicity of ethnicities.
5. Paul and Ethnicity—Caroline Johnson Hodge: She approaches Paul with the aim of breaking all ethnic barriers between Jews and non-Jews. Non-Jews essentially find their identity in the lineage of Abraham. She maintains that both group are now baptized in Christ and are therefore united as one.
6. Conclusion: Although the theologians above have move away from the new perspective on Paul, they remain convinced of Sanders’ conclusions regarding the Judaism in Paul’s day. Contra old and new perspectives, these theologians do away with any separation between Paul and Judaism. Here Zetterholm observes four consequences from this theological shift: 1) Paul exclusively wrote to the non-Jewish Christians in Rome; 2) Paul’s main theological problem is gentile inclusion, not Jewish particularism; 3) they reject the idea that Paul created a “third race”; 4) their theology tend to stray from any traditional interpretations on Paul.
Chapter 6 – In Defense of Protestantism – pgs 165-193
1. From Plight to Solution—Frank S. Thielman: Reacting to Sanders’ From Solution to Plight, Frank S. Thielman sees Paul’s theology going the opposite direction, in which Paul goes from solution to plight. He strongly disagrees with Sanders’ theological conclusions, especially Sander’s claim that Jews are able to fulfill the Torah in Paul’s perspective. He remains in line with the old perspective, asserting that Christ is the only one able to fulfill the whole law.
2. Beyond Covenantal Nomism—A. Andrew Das: Another element of critique in Sanders’ position is his unwillingness to acknowledge that second temple Judaism also contains perfect Torah observance from the Jews. Das proposes this understanding of covenant in Judaism: “the interplay between the demand to perfect obedience and the possibility of atonement” (p. 171).
3. Boasting in Christ—Simon J. Gathercole: In the same fashion as Das, he finds Sanders’ conclusion untenable, he questions Sanders’ narrow reading of second temple Jewish texts. Sanders, according to Gathercole, ignores texts that explicitly deal with rewards according to works.
4. The Explicitly Lutheran Paul—Stephen Westerholm: He maintains the Lutheran position and criticizes Sanders and the new perspective for their misreading of “works of the law” in the Pauline texts. However, he does commend Sanders’ scholarship, which reduces much of the faulty ideas regarding second temple Judaism.
5. Conclusion: Zetterholm points out that the traditional view on Paul and its proponents are worthy of serious considerations, despite the fact that these “scholars working from within a confessional paradigm usually reach confessional results, despite Sanders” (p. 193).
Chapter 7 – Breaking Boundaries – pgs 195-224
1. Paul and the Philosophers: This approach aims to understand Paul from a philosophical view. Zetterholm notes that despite being exegetically inferior to other approaches, it still may hold valuable contributions to the discussion if taken seriously.
2. Postcolonial Approaches: Due to its skepticism of Western empiricism, this view attempts to expose the “underlying power structures in the dominant Western readings of the Bible. In essence, it seeks to take away all Western readings of the Pauline corpus. Here, Zetterholm points out Neil Elliot’s rejection of the traditional and Sanders’ assumptions that Paul was mainly concern for redemption of the people of God through Christ. In Elliot’s view, Paul had a more political concern then a soteriological one.
3. Paul and the Feminists: The feminist reading, like that of the postcolonial one, is also seeks to take the Western power away from the Bible. Its main concern, however, is establishing an equal view of genders, taking away the common notion of male superiority in the Western reading of Paul. With Kathy Ehrensperger, Paul becomes more focused on everyday relationships and problem and human equality.
4. Multi-Disciplinary Approaches: This reading takes all the above approaches on Paul and attempts to make see a more holistic Paul. Davina C. Lopez brings these perspectives together, assuming that they all serve to understand Paul more comprehensively.
5. Conclusion: Zetterholm views these approaches as “the beginning of a formulation of a scientific paradigm in which certain assumptions simply are taken for granted” (p. 224).
Chapter 8 – Conclusion-History and Paul – pgs 225-240
1. Paul—From Hegel to Žižek: The overall aim here is to summarize the historical readings of Paul. One is the Reformation view and the other is the more progressive view.
a. The Early Church and the Reformation Period: The struggle between law and grace and the antithesis between Christianity and Judaism are two principles inherited by the early church. In the Reformation Period, Martin Luther developed the doctrine of justification by faith alone that further separated Christians from Jews.
b. In Wake of the Enlightenment: Hegelian idealism became the focal element that gave German liberal protestants “…scientific legitimation of the relation between Paul and Judaism” (p. 226), which maintained the dichotomy between them.
c. From Stendahl to Sanders: Christian theology changed dramatically by World War II. Stendahl, before Sanders, questioned the legitimacy of Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone and Paul’s departure from Judaism. Sanders confirms Stendahl’s thesis with his conclusion that Judaism is characterized by “covenantal nomism,” rather than legalism.
d. New Perspectives on Paul: Dunn and Wright, primary proponents of the new perspectives, maintain that Paul was not opposed to the Torah, contra Sanders, but to “national righteousness.” Nevertheless, this view upholds Paul’s departure from Judaism, but reduces its emphasis.
e. Radicalism and Reactions: Unsatisfied with the new perspectives’ account of Paul and Judaism, these radical views suggest that Paul did not depart from Judaism and he also remained a Torah observant.
2. The Different Perspectives on Paul: This section suggests the idea that existing paradigms, scientific and theological, often collide with new conceptions. Through this procedure, existing paradigms are substituted for improved paradigms.
3. Knowing the Truth:
a. The Framework of Interpretation: One’s interpretations are always according to a set of presuppositions. The fact that misunderstandings can occur in any given text and the true meaning is impossible to acquire, especially in the Pauline corpus, given interpretations come from a particular assembly and are not necessarily the truth of the given text.
b. Finding Truth through Diversity: Zetterholm concludes that all the various interpretations of the Pauline corpus must be taken into consideration for Pauline scholars to come to a more accurate view of Paul. Such interactions promote the developments of newer and better interpretations of Paul.
III. Critique and Analysis
Overall, Zetterholm’s project is very successful in terms of meeting his overarching goal of exploring the various perspectives in current Pauline scholarship and attempting to find the most consistent paradigm according to history. His composition of the book is clear and concise, which help the reader understand the flow of his arguments and assumptions. In addition, his choices of words are very easy to understand; they are composed mostly of ordinary words, rather than scholarly ones, which only scholars can relate. Where he does use scholarly words and phrases, he gives clear definitions so that the common reader is not lost in the complicated nuances in the discussions. His clarity is consistent to his goal of writing to “beginning students.” In addition, his arguments are strong, in the sense that he provides many historical backgrounds to them. The new perspective development was especially helpful, and many students would benefit from such careful scholarship. However, there several issues that may need of further investigation. One is the overarching presupposition that the doctrine of justification by faith alone necessarily leads to anti-Semitism. Second is second temple Judaism’s consistency with the Old Testament.
Zetterholm’s presumption that the Reformation doctrine of justification leads to the separation between Jews and Christians seems rather historically superimposed to achieve his goal of undermining the doctrine. He selectively analyzes the ill “effects” of the doctrine, instead of identifying its positive “effects,” such as the Reformers’ high view of Soli Deo Gloria, or to God alone be the glory, because of justification by faith alone. The book’s approach is obviously from a “historical” perspective, but it seems rather bias on its presentation, especially of the doctrine’s continuity in history. Would Luther and the Reformers approve of German Liberalism’s overall view of justification? This is a fair question because Zetterholm conflates the two. The need for a clear analysis of the Reformation doctrine is wanting because of his claim. In doing so, one may see whether the Reformation doctrine is compatible with German Liberalism’s reworking.
It may be an interesting facet of the Pauline discussion to approach second temple Judaism with the Old Testament in hand. In other words, was the Judaism in Paul’s day really the Judaism found in the Old Testament? This may further complicate the matter, but it will certainly move forward Pauline scholarship. Approaches to Paul can improve with this other dimension in the discussion.