2012 Paul

Session 1

Andrew Boakye (University of Manchester)

God Sent Forth the Spirit of His Son: The Law of Christ and the Fulfilment of the New Covenant

Paul writes in Gal 6:2 that if God’s people bear the burdens of their Christian family they will ‘fulfil completely the Law of Christ’. Given the trajectory of the polemic in Galatians, the phrase appears needlessly awkward. Earlier scholarly treatments of the phrase understood Christ’s law to replace the Law of Moses. More recent analyses, largely influenced by Barclay’s highly insightful observations, have seen the phrase as a direct reference to the Law of Moses. However, as Barclay observes, a note of ambiguity is introduced into the argument – an argument which already appears fraught with maverick Pauline innovations aimed at legitimizing gentile assimilation into the covenant independent of Torah. It strikes me that whatever Paul intended to convey by using the phrase τὸν νόμον τοῦ Χριστοῦ, the very notion that in any sense gentiles had a responsibility to ‘law’ suggests the construction of a quite deliberate tension with Torah. The only question then is what rhetorical advantage the introduction of such a tension might serve. This paper will propose that a potential solution may be found in the inter-textual connections between Galatians and the prophetic declarations of blessing associated with the New Covenant and the restoration from exile. These blessings, prophesied by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, may be summarised as a process of ‘internalisation’, by which the obedience to the divine ordinances would be provoked by the Spirit. Moreover they are consistent with what appears to be the ostensibly Pauline contrast between ‘fulfilling’ and ‘performing’ the Law.  

John Anthony Dunne (University of St Andrews)

Covenant and Apocalyptic in Galatians: A Critique of J. Louis Martyn and Martinus C. De Boer

Within scholarship on Paul there is a major divide between covenantal and apocalyptic readings. One major place where this divide is most explicit is Galatians. With the popularity of J. Louis Martyn’s Anchor Bible commentary and the recently published New Testament Library commentary by Martinus C. De Boer, the apocalyptic reading is worth interacting with at a sustained level. This paper will critique the apocalyptic reading espoused by Martyn and de Boer by noting that their understanding of apocalyptic does not cohere with first-century apocalyptic in regards to (a) Jewish cosmology, (b) Jewish covenantal theology, and (c) the role of suffering.

Apocalyptic and Covenant: Perspectives of Paul or Antinomies at War?

The terms ‘apocalyptic’ and ‘covenantal’ are ubiquitous in Pauline studies and frequently set against one another as competing lenses by which to understand Pauline theology, in response to which this paper will ask whose apocalyptic? Which covenant? The development of apocalyptic readings of Paul from J Christiaan Beker to the present will be outlined, arguing that even as anti-salvation-historical language increases, the content of ‘apocalyptic’ theology shifts to become closer and not further away from at least some covenantal readings of Paul. It can be seen that the (more recent) apocalyptic emphasis upon the need for divine intervention to undo a bondage to sin which incapacitates human beings in ways both epistemological and soteriological maps onto the OT promise of the new covenant by which God will transform his people inwardly, pour out his Spirit and renew his creation. The objection most often raised to such a marriage of approaches—that Paul belongs to a cosmological and not forensic stream of apocalyptic thought—will be considered in light of Rom 8:1-4. 

Session 2

Matthew Novenson (University of Edinburgh)

Did Paul believe in Judaism?

Despite the vast secondary literature on Paul and Judaism, the only instances of the word “Judaism” (Ioudaismos) in the New Testament are in Gal 1:13, 14. What is more, recent scholarly discussion has suggested that even in Galatians there is no such thing as “Judaism.” Several recent interpreters have proposed that Ioudaismos is not “Judaism,” a system of religious beliefs and practices, but rather “Judaizing” or “Judaization,” a verbal noun signifying the adoption of Jewish ancestral customs by non-Jews. Prima facie, the polemical situation of Paul’s letter to the Galatians might seem to confirm this reading. In this paper, I offer a counterargument: In Galatians, “Judaizing” indeed signifies the adoption of Jewish customs by non-Jews, but curiously “Judaism” signifies the maintenance of Jewish customs by Jews. In short, “Judaizing” is something non-Jews do, but “Judaism” is something Jews do. In terms of etymology this should not be the case, but in Paul’s usage it is the case. I suggest an explanation for how this usage arose and what it implies about Paul’s perspective on “Judaism.”

Rafael Rodriguez (Johnson University)

‘If You Depend upon the Law’: Diatribe and the Rhetoric of Nomos in Romans 1–4

Debate about the identity of Paul’s imagined dialogue partner in Romans 2 has focused on whether Paul portrays a gentile or Jewish interlocutor in Rom. 2.1–16. The question is largely settled after v. 17, where Paul explicitly addresses his counterpart as one who calls himself a Jew. Paul’s ensuing discussion focuses heavily on nomos (law, or Law), to which Paul refers twenty-six times in Rom. 2.17–4.25. Despite the breadth of interpretive options available for reading Romans, scholars are nearly unanimous in reading Paul’s dialogue at 2.17ff. in terms of him addressing an actually ethnic Jew. In the face of this rare consensus, this paper tentatively proposes to read Paul’s imaginary interlocutor in 2.17 as a gentile proselyte to Judaism, a gentile who “calls himself a Jew” and actively attempts to persuade other gentiles to do likewise. This proposal casts Paul’s comments on nomos in a new light and opens up a way to account for apparent contradictions in Paul’s estimation of nomos, which on the one hand results in knowledge of sin (3.20) but on the other hand is established by Paul’s proclamation of the gospel (3.31).

Volker Rabens (University of Bochum)

Transformation = Deification? Reading 2 Corinthians 3 in the Context of Philonic Mystical Traditions

In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul compares his ministry with that of Moses and concludes in verse 18: ‘And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.’ In this paper I argue that a number of intertextual echoes from the writings of Philo Judaeus shed new light on the interpretation of this text. Next to some verbatim parallels to 3:18 (e.g. Post. 12–13), several Philonic passages evidence a close thematic connection of (1) the work of the Spirit who enables (2) an intimate, mystical beholding of God that leads to (3) a virtuous life (e.g., Mos. 2.69; Gig. 54–55; QE 2.29). My paper demonstrates that studying Philo on this issue provides us with deeper insights into Paul’s theology in 2 Corinthians 3:18 where he describes the same causality, ascribing like Philo a transforming role to Spirit-enabled intimate beholding of the divine. On this basis we are in a position to suggest a new direction with regard to the debated nature of transformation in Paul which has recently been defined as ‘deification’ and ‘moral assimilation to God’ (David Litwa).


Session 3

Scott Hafemann (University of St Andrews)

The Apocalyptic Gospel of New Covenant Transformation: Doing the Law ‘by (a renewed) Heart’ in Rom 2:14-16

Douglas Campbell’s recent work has made unavoidably clear that Rom 2:12-16 serves as a crux for the long-standing debate over the relationship between divine and human righteousness in Paul’s theology. Both Campbell and the traditional view solve the (apparent) conflict between Rom 2:7 and 3:11, Rom 2:10 and 4:4-6, and Rom 2:13 and 3:11, 20 by relegating a future “justification by doing the good/law”, whether postulated by Paul or his opponents, to the realm of an unrealized (im)possibility derived from the Law (natural or Sinai). Romans 2:12-16 thus drives one to the contrasting gospel implications of Rom 1:16-17 (cf. 3:21). Read in this way, Romans 1:16-17, seen as the antidote to “a judgment by works”, provides the explanatory key for understanding Rom 2:12-15. This paper will argue the reverse, that Rom 2:12-16, by outlining the corresponding covenant demarcation of Paul’s apocalyptic gospel (2:16), provides the key for understanding Rom 1:16-17. To that end, the meaning and function of fusis (“nature”) in Rom 2:14, the use of Jer 31:31-34 in Rom 2:15, and the role of doing the Law in future judgment in 2:13 and 15b-16 will be brought to bear on the delineation of Paul’s gospel in Rom 1:16-17 (and 18!).


Alexander Kirk (University of Oxford)

Covenantal Crisis Theology and Paul’s Arguments in Romans 9 and 11: Intertextual Icebergs in Rom 9:3 and 11:1–5

This paper will explore the overlooked significance of the allusion to Moses in Rom 9:3 (cf. Exod 32:32) and the overt reference to Elijah in Rom 11:3–4 (cf. 1 Kgs 19). It will be suggested that Exod 32, 1 Kgs 19, and Rom 9–11 all represent crisis moments within Israel’s history, provoked by the widespread unbelief and disobedience of God’s people. Paul’s use of the OT taps into a series of canonically-connected “threatened national annihilation texts,” the theology of which has important implications for the faithfulness of God and the future of Israel in Paul’s argumentation in Rom 9–11. Though admittedly limited and selective, this paper will survey five such annihilation texts: Exod 32:30–35, Num 14:11–38, 1 Sam 12:16–25, 1 Kgs 19:1–18, and Ezra 9:1–15. A theological synthesis of these texts will then be attempted, forming what I will call an OT “covenantal crisis theology.” This crisis theology will then be applied to Paul’s arguments in Rom 9 and 11, demonstrating that Paul’s underlying covenantal theology has been shaped by the OT’s covenantal crisis theology. Simply put, the thesis of this paper is that reading Rom 9:3 and 11:1–5 as Pauline metalepses, whether intentional on Paul’s part or not, lends coherence to Paul’s argumentation and direction for its interpretation.


Chosen People, Holy People: The Consecration of the Gentiles in the Letter to the Romans

Israel’s encounter with God at Sinai is the literary and theological crux of her constitution and consecration. When Paul addresses all God’s beloved in Rome, those “called holy” (Rom 1:7), as part of his vision for a people set apart for God, it is an explicitly inclusive designation: holiness is extended to the Gentiles. The idea that Paul’s language of holy people has its origin in Exod 19:3—24:8 may not be controversial, but the relationship is far from straightforward. Engaging with Richard Hays’ claim that Deuteronomy 32 contains Romans “in nuce,” this paper will argue that the way in which Deuteronomy has already re-cast the Sinai covenant-making event as repeatable enables Paul to appropriate the tradition for his new setting. Paul is not only interested in events at the mountain from the book of Exodus but also the way in which Deuteronomy looks back to Sinai as a means to looking forward to the re-constitution of a holy people beyond the covenant curses. Paul proclaims the gospel as part of this anticipated eschatological covenant renewal, and the constitution of this people as an act of consecration by the Holy Spirit takes place on the basis of God’s mercy in Christ to all, both Jews and Gentiles.