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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: ivp; First edition (21 Jun. 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 184474891X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844748914
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 512,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Brian Rosner's strength lies in showing with patience and clarity how the apostle Paul articulates an array of complementary but quite different stances toward the law ... This is a book to read slowly and appreciatively ... --D. A. Carson

I have to confess that I find many discussions of Paul and the Law of Moses to be monumentally dull and uninspiring. Not so this one! It has held my interest right through, and I have appreciated especially the ways in which it examines the texts closely and shows that the key to understanding Paul on this topic lies in close attention to the details of his wording that differentiate the relationships between the Law and Jews and Gentiles and indicate its different functions. This is a fresh solution to a difficult puzzle that may sadly be overlooked by its publication in a readable-level series rather than in a technical reader-unfriendly one with a maze of references and footnotes. It fully deserves to be placed alongside such profound classics as C. H. Dodd's 'According to the Scriptures', which is written in the same limpid manner. --I. Howard Marshall, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, University of Aberdeen

About the Author

Brian S. Rosner is Principal, Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College. He was previously lecturer at Moore Theological College, Sydney, and the University of Aberdeen. He is co-author of 'The First Letter to the Corinthians' (PNTC); co-editor of the 'New Dictionary of Biblical Theology', 'The Trials of Theology', 'Exploring Exodus and Paul as Missionary'; editor of 'The Wisdom of the Cross'; and author of 'Beyond Greed, Greed as Idolatry and Paul, Scripture and Ethics'.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Robinson on 5 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
If you'd like to see my full review, you can read it here:
spoiledmilks [.] wordpress [.] com/2013/12/29/paul-and-the-law-a-review/

The author Brian Rosner is focused on the BIG picture.
In three swift moves Paul shows his (consistent) thoughts on the law:
1. Repudiation, explicit (ch. 2) and implicit (ch. 3).
2. Replacement of the law with Christ.
3. Re-appropriation as prophecy (ch. 5) and as wisdom (ch. 6).

Paul shows that Christians are not under the law. They do not walk according to the law, but they fulfill the law. The law of Moses is replaced, but this doesn't mean the law is worthless. It still has ongoing value because it is 'for us'; pointing to the Gospel and teaching us wisdom.

**The Chocolate Milk

+ Rosner assembles many of Paul's contradictory sayings and shows that they do connect together revealing Paul did know how to express himself consistently in his letters. Rosner's reasonings makes sense as a whole, and this book will change how you read reading Paul's letters.

+ Rosner floods us with Old Testament meanings that Paul would know. Why? Because as a Pharisaic Jew Paul really knew the law. He knew the language, the phrases, and the idioms of both the Old Testament and the intertestamental (apocryphal) writings. They had an influence on both Paul's life and the lives of other Jews. Jews would read Paul's letters and, instead of "walking according to the Law", they would see a familiar idiom replaced with "walk according to the Spirit" or that we are now "under the law of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21).

+ Rosner's view of showing the Law to be prophecy and wisdom was terrific. If Christians are no longer under the law, then what do we do with it?
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By Lindsay on 27 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
Paul and the Law offers a helpful and humble step forward and is a surprisingly concise treatment of a very complex issue. A pastor or student of the Word should seriously consider this book as a clear and helpful guide. Of course, being a part of the consistently great New Studies in Biblical Theology series virtually guarantees that while it is no walk in the park it is worth the effort! Normally after reading a book on a core issue like this, I like to ponder the main points for weeks/months/years before deciding if I am fully convinced. With Paul and the Law, however, I felt thoroughly convinced of Rosner's main thesis by the time I reached the end of the book. As I continue to study and consider this topic I may change my mind a little, but any other position would need to thoroughly address the formidable arguments here. Paul and the Law aids one in reading and understanding the Bible, particularly Paul's teaching on the law. When a book helps one in Bible reading, it is always a success.

[This is an excerpt of my full review at my blog. Many thanks to Penny at IVP UK for providing a review copy of this book. I was not required to provide a positive review, all thoughts are my own].
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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A clear understanding of an often unclear topic 1 Nov. 2013
By Roland Lowther - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Understanding how the Law relates to Christians is definitely on the 'Most Wanted' list of topics seeking clarity in the world of New Testament theology. Having studied the topic at a 'relatively' in-depth level for over 10 years, I appreciate the manifold problems and pitfalls in making sense of it. If making sense of it is Rosner's goal with this book, he succeeds!

His three-fold hermeneutical approach to Paul's theology of Law: Repudiation, Replacement, and Re-appropriation seems to overcome a lot of the old continuity/discontinuity problems and enables seemingly contradictory passages to be correlated without compromise.

If there was a weakness to be identified in this study, it would be the lack of development of significant themes in his second category of "replacement", especially as it relates the the role of the Spirit (Rom 7:6). However,given the 'can of worms' this would open up, and the limited scope of this study, the author probably thought it wise to let sleeping dogs lie.

The brilliance in Rosner's study lies in his hermeneutical approach; it appears he really does Paul justice in this regard. For my money if you only buy one book on Paul's interpretation of the Law, you would be hard pressed to go past this one!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A fresh step in Pauline studies regarding the law 21 Jan. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God" by Brian S. Rosner takes a fresh step in Pauline studies with regards to the Old Testament (OT) law (more broadly the Torah). In my search for a more coherent view of the relationship between the OT law and new covenant believers and New Testament (NT) ethics, Rosner has come the closest (along with Moo, Joslin, and Webb) to what I think is a solid framework for viewing the continuity and discontinuity between OT law and NT ethics. It also makes good sense of both Paul's positive and negative statements about the OT law.

The chapter titles are quite self-explanatory for the argument Rosner puts forward in each. Rosner does an excellent job in all chapters, with the slight exception of chap. 4, of presenting a strong and convincing argument for his ultimate thesis. They are very straightforward, easy to understand, and contain ample support from biblical and contemporaneous extra-biblical texts.

Rosner's main thesis is that, when interpreting Paul's statements about the OT law, one must ask what *function* of the law Paul is addressing. The repudiation and replacement of the OT law is the law as law-covenant, including its regulatory force. However, the OT law as prophecy and wisdom literature are continued valid uses of the OT law after the Christ-event.

As hinted above, my foremost concern was regarding chap. 4. In chap. 4 Rosner focuses on the replacement of the OT law with the law of Christ/faith/Spirit, the gospel, and apostolic instruction/wisdom. It is here that Rosner is not as clear and convincing as I would have liked regarding what *function* of the law is being replaced.

Rosner states that the material covered in chap. 4 is essentially Paul's response to the false charge that his "law-free gospel" leads to antinomianism (p. 113). Firstly, Rosner argues that the Christ-Torah antithesis is a crucial paradigm shift for Paul with regard to salvation (p. 115). This is clearly true and an excellent starting point.

Secondly, Rosner tackles the substitutes of the OT law--i.e. law of Christ/faith/Spirit--and argues that it is not a different interpretation/application of the OT law but something completely new. While this may be the case, Rosner stresses the newness at the expense of the continuity.

For Gal 6:2 the law of Christ is the "normative pattern...of Christ's redemptive self-giving" (p. 117). Yet, there is no discussion about the connection of the OT law with this normative pattern. Rosner seems to make too clean a cut between the OT law and law of Christ. It hardly seems that Christ's normative pattern was something utterly foreign to the OT law. Christ was also born and bred in a culture infused with Torah ethos. It does not seem plausible that the OT law was wiped away and had no influence or connection with how Jesus lived his life to develop this normative pattern, even if Jesus put his distinct teachings alongside the OT law (see Moo). Rosner may not mean to make such an implication, but it was difficult to infer otherwise.

In reviewing 1 Cor 9:12 and Paul's use of "Christ's law," Rosner concludes that this use refers to the lordship of Christ and that this lordship replaces the OT law, with the clarification that Christ's law is not a new legal corpus (agreeing with Fee; pp. 118-119). And this is where Rosner quizzically ends. But this hardly adds any support to Rosner's contention that Christ's law is absolutely new from the OT law. The lordship of Christ is most definitely the authoritative base of Christ's teachings and Christian motivation to adhere to the ethical imperatives found in 1 Cor, listed by Rosner on p. 119. Nevertheless, this must not exclude any continuity with the OT law. Moo's approach is more nuanced and delineates the continuity-discontinuity spectrum. In fact, Moo seems to cogently pull together Rosner's thesis (in less detail) and Webb's "Redemptive Movement" proposal. It would have been interesting for Rosner to discuss at this juncture Moo's concept of `God's law' as the superordinate law which finds a distinct situational form as the Mosaic law in comparison to the distinct situational and potential final (penultimate?) form after the Christ-event as Christ's law.

Rosner's discussion of Rom 3:27 and 8:1 also falls a bit short of clarity. He again does not define the *function* of the law Paul is dealing with. As Moo argues, the context strongly indicates that the righteous requirement (singular) of the OT law is fulfilled through Christ; this would mean the focus is on the salvific aspect. This does not mean that the OT law directly regulates the NT believer's life; but, by the same token, it does not mean that there is no continuity. Rosner seems to push the continuity a bit too far out of the `replacement' picture.

In looking at the concept of fulfilling the law, Rosner concludes that Christ fulfills the law for us and through us, and that this is in respect to justification (p. 124). However, Rosner equates walking in the Spirit with the values of the "new age" (ibid). This remains too cryptic and I wonder how much God's values actually changed from the OT law to the law of Christ. I agree with the distinction regarding justification, but the replacement of values without acknowledging any developmental complexity strains credulity.

Having written quite a bit already and to avoid belabouring any points--unless I've already failed at this goal--I will only touch on one more aspect or Rosner's view in this chapter. He bases NT ethical imperatives on, among other things (cf. the list on p. 124), apostolic instruction (p. 129) and the gospel (p. 132). With all the examples cited, Rosner presents his position in such a way that it appears NT ethics based on the substitutes to the OT law developed in a vacuum, specifically void of a Torah ethos.

It would have been beneficial at this point to discuss the nature of authority (cf. Chris Wright). Any imperative, be it legal or ethical, does not inherently contain authority. Its authority comes from the one giving the imperative. The same can be said of apostles and the gospel. The authority in all cases listed, including the OT law, stems from the author of creation, God. The nature of authority lends credence to the concept of God's superordinate law. It also supports the continuity aspect between the OT law and NT ethics without denying discontinuity (cf. Joslin's study of the transformation of the law in Hebrews).

Given the above, it is difficult in my opinion to argue that apostolic instruction or gospel-ethics begin from a clean slate and their ethics were divined apart from any Torah influence even if not explicitly stated. Rarely are we even aware of how our socio-religious milieu impacts our views. Even if we are aware, if our audience shares the same milieu, we often need not bother to highlight the common assumptions or context. (I find it interesting that, as much as Paul does not quote the OT law, his lack of Jesus quotes seems equally noticeable.)

Chapter 4 is commendable in stressing the newness of the NT frame of understanding. However, Rosner's presentation is a bit too simple. I realize that the intended audience is not strictly academics, but I would still have preferred more discussion on the complexities regarding the continuity-discontinuity aspect. (To be fair, Rosner does recognize that the new covenant prophetic texts acknowledge both continuity and discontinuity (p. 128), but doesn't discuss this any further.)

Although I have focused on critiquing chap. 4, I can't recommend this book enough. The chapters on the prophetic and wisdom uses of the Mosaic law are absolutely fantastic and to a limited extent address some of my concerns with chap. 4. I am excited to see where Pauline studies develop from this basis. I have benefited greatly from Rosner's work and from interacting with this study of Paul and the law.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A balanced view of the issue of Paul and the law. 15 Nov. 2013
By PastoralMusings - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is quite the interesting read.
Rosner has done a very good job of dealing with Paul and the law.
Today there are very many different ideas about the law. There is the new perspective, anti-nomianism, theonomy, and who knows what else?
Rosner looks at the law and first of all says that Paul repudiates the law. Simply put, the law is no longer a covenant that God's people are under. We are not dominated by the law, and do not have to keep the law to be saved or sanctified. The law has no more dominion over us.
To be honest, when I read Rosner's saying that Paul repudiated the law, I felt that he was going too far. It seemed as if he drifted into anti-nomianism. I had no idea how wrong that I was, but I kept reading so that I could learn.
Am I glad that I kept reading, because I learned much!
Rosner then stated that Paul spoke of the law being replaced. What he does is he tells us that Paul's teaching was that Jesus fulfilled the law. Honestly, I don't like the word replaced as used in this context; but I guess it fit the alliterative ideal :-)
The law has its goal in Christ. It pointed to Christ. Christ did everything that the law demanded. Because of this the law is no longer in effect as a covenant, but it is established and shown to have a certain authority.
The authority that the law has is in the fact that it has been re-appropriated. It is now seen as prophecy and wisdom. It has shown us Christ, and it will show us wisdom for living and pleasing God.
I truly appreciate this approach, because I believe there is a good bit of faithfulness to the Biblical text in Rosner's treatment of Paul and the law. I hope to read this book again in the future so that I might further meditate on the issue, as it is a very important topic.
While I'm sure that there are things we can quarrel with Rosner about, I'm giving this book five stars, because it is an easy read and his work is a job very well done.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Providing Footholds for a Difficult Theological Climb 3 Jan. 2014
By Joel S. Frady - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When rock climbing it is always a good thing to find solid footholds and places to grasp with your hands. Scaling a rock face is much easier when good footholds are available. The same principle applies to the study of theology. When an author or preacher or theologian can give us categories from which to consider complex theological topics, we can find the mental and spiritual climb is a bit easier and our progress becomes steady.

Brian Rosner, in his book Paul and the Law, gives us such footholds for the climb up one of Paul’s most difficult and complex topics, the relation of the Christian to the law.

In 222 pages Rosner explores Paul’s view of the law from all sides, first laying out the difficulty of the topic which has perplexed scholars for years. Rosner defines “law” as the first five books of the Bible in their fullness, not merely as the rules or laws contained within them. So for Rosner, the question is not, “which parts of the law are Christians to keep?” but “what is the Christian to do with the law as a whole?”

What sets Rosner’s approach apart to me is his commitment to analyze all that Paul says about the law and hold the many facets of Paul’s approach together. The result of this stud is that Rosner affirms three approaches to the law in the writings of Paul: 1. Repudiation 2. Replacement and 3. Reappropriation. Rosner says Paul repudiates the law for Christians as a legal code and as a way that leads to salvation or life with God. But this is not the whole story. Paul also replaces the law with the work of Christ as we move from the old covenant to the new covenant, from letters written on stone to the work of the Holy Spirit in human hearts. If we just took these two aspects of the law into account, we could conclude that the law has little to no ongoing value for the Christian. But in bringing out the aspect of reappropriation, Rosner illustrates that the law does have ongoing worth, while at the same time not putting believers under a burden of law-keeping from which they have been delivered by Christ. The law is reappropriated as prophecy, that which witnesses to the gospel of Christ and it is reappropriated for ethics, to be read as wisdom from God for guiding our lives.

Having laid out these three aspects of Paul’s dealing with the law in chapter one, Rosner goes on in the following chapters to explain in depth each of the three aspects. He begins with the chapter “Not Under the Law,” where he explains Paul’s repudiation of the law. Interacting extensively with the Pauline corpus and with Paul’s use of the Old Testament, Rosner shows how Paul has decisively stated that those in Christ are not under the law. But of course, as we have seen above, this is not the whole story. Rosner’s third chapter, “Not Walking According to the Law” also deals with repudiation, but from a different angle. Whereas chapter two brings out those cases in which Paul explicitly denies the ongoing work of the law in the believer’s life, chapter three goes at it from the angle of what Paul does not say. Namely, Rosner shows how Paul never calls the Christian to keep the law or walk according to the law in the sense of observing the law like a person under the old covenant.

Chapter four, “Under the Law of Christ,” deals with the issue of replacement. Rosner shows how Paul made it clear that Christ changed everything. Christians are in Christ, not under the law. Christians have fulfilled the law through the righteousness of Christ and live out their obedience to God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In chapter five, Rosner tackled the issue of reappropriation by showing that Paul views the law as prophecy. As Paul says in Romans 1:2, the gospel was “promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures.” Rosner convincingly shows that this phrase refers not only to the latter prophets of the Old Testament but to the Old Testament as a whole, including the law. It is clear from Paul’s use of illustrations from the law (Adam, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau) that Paul sees a clear foretelling role for the law. In this way, the law points toward Christ, in the right direction, both by showing us the perfection of God and our inability to keep the law, driving us to Christ. Thus the law is reappropriated as prophecy.

Rosner uses a second chapter to discuss reappropriation as he comes to chapter 6, entitled “Written for Our Instruction.” Here Rosner posits that the law should be reappropriated not only as prophecy but also as wisdom. This chapter is the longest in the book. Rosner takes significant time to show how Old Testament wisdom literature, particularly the Psalms, exposited the law from commandment to principles for living. Rosner says Paul approaches the law much like the Psalmist, finding in the law ethical principles and values but not looking at the law as being something Christians are under. One of the most intriguing examples Rosner gives is the example of tithing. Paul had many opportunities to urge the Old Testament practice of tithing, but he never does. He gives principles consistent with the law but never demands Christians to live under the law as covenant code. Thus the law is reappropriated as wisdom for living.

Having thoroughly surveyed Paul’s three uses of the law, Rosner concludes by tying his approach together in chapter 7, “Keeping the Commandments of God.” This chapter serves as a summary of Rosner’s main points as well as an opportunity to demonstrate how the different uses of the law play out in Paul’s writings. Helpful charts in this chapter show the different ways Paul used the law in Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and 1 & 2 Timothy. Interestingly, Rosner shows the three uses of the law (actually he divides reappropriation into two parts in the charts -- prophecy and wisdom) are in each one of these books. In other words, the three-fold use of the law by Paul shows up across the board in his writings. He is going back and forth between uses within particular books.

Rosner closes the book with a summary of Paul’s uses of the law and an explanation of why Paul’s approach was so radical in light of the Judaism of his day. The book concludes with a lengthy bibliography and extensive Scripture index.

This is an important book. Rosner’s approach to Paul and the law resonated with me and by and large I buy in to his explanations and to his fully-orbed view of Paul and the law. Working from the baseline Rosner has given us provides Christians with a good foundation from which to expound all of Scripture in a gospel-focused, Christ-centered way.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Hedging the Thorny Issues 30 Dec. 2013
By S. Robinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you'd like to see my full review, you can read it here:
spoiledmilks [.] wordpress [.] com/2013/12/29/paul-and-the-law-a-review/

The author Brian Rosner is focused on the BIG picture.
In three swift moves Paul shows his (consistent) thoughts on the law:
1. Repudiation, explicit (ch. 2) and implicit (ch. 3).
2. Replacement of the law with Christ.
3. Re-appropriation as prophecy (ch. 5) and as wisdom (ch. 6).

Paul shows that Christians are not under the law. They do not walk according to the law, but they fulfill the law. The law of Moses is replaced, but this doesn't mean the law is worthless. It still has ongoing value because it is 'for us'; pointing to the Gospel and teaching us wisdom.

**The Chocolate Milk

+ Rosner assembles many of Paul's contradictory sayings and shows that they do connect together revealing Paul did know how to express himself consistently in his letters. Rosner's reasonings makes sense as a whole, and this book will change how you read reading Paul's letters.

+ Rosner floods us with Old Testament meanings that Paul would know. Why? Because as a Pharisaic Jew Paul really knew the law. He knew the language, the phrases, and the idioms of both the Old Testament and the intertestamental (apocryphal) writings. They had an influence on both Paul's life and the lives of other Jews. Jews would read Paul's letters and, instead of "walking according to the Law", they would see a familiar idiom replaced with "walk according to the Spirit" or that we are now "under the law of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21).

+ Rosner's view of showing the Law to be prophecy and wisdom was terrific. If Christians are no longer under the law, then what do we do with it? Read it and thank God we don't have to live like that anymore? How is that 'profitable'? In this light, the whole Law (read: Gen. 1:1-Deut. 34:12) has application to our lives. The law exemplifies wisdom because it came from God, is rooted in His good character, and mirrors the boundaries He has placed over the world and how to live in them.

**The Spoiled Milk

- Rosner was wordy at times, with his syntax being difficult to understand (though to be expected with the academic NSBT series. It ain't kindergarten - nor should it be). I may be in the minority here, for I've seen other reviewers say Rosner was clear and easy to read. Yes, he usually was clear, and often times easy, but on the same hand, not. However, given such a thorny issue, the fact that I understood anything should say a lot (which would then be a +).

- If there was a weakness in a main point of this study, it would be Rosner's explanation of "the law of the Spirit of life." He shows how it contrasts with "the law of sin and death" in Rom. 8:2, but doesn't go much farther than that. He well explained the "law of Christ," but not so much the same with the "law of faith" and the "law of the Spirit."

There ain't much wrong with this'un.

**Recommended?
If you are interested in Paul's thoughts on the Mosaic Law, then this book is for you. Rosner's thoughts are clear and well-played out. There is plenty here to read and to study. It just makes sense. I would love to see some examples of the difficult laws as wisdom, but with this hermeneutic in place I expect to see more books on how the law is to be used as wisdom in our lives, in addition to my own study. This isn't the easiest of reads, but it's definitely not the most difficult. As D. A. Carson said, "This is a book to read slowly...a book to ponder" (p. 12, Series Preface). Enjoy.

[Many thanks to IVP UK for providing a review copy of this book. I was not required to provide a positive review in exchange for this book].
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