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Paul, The Law, And The Jewish People Paperback – 1 Jan 1959

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Paul, The Law, And The Jewish People + Navigating Paul: An Introduction to Key Theological Concepts
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress; 1st edition (1 Jan. 1959)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800618785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800618780
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 714,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Not For The Neophyte 17 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Sanders eloquently describes 1st century Judaism and the relationship of the Jewish people to the Law of Moses. He explains the meaning of covenant without the usual Christian revisionism. The Jews work to fulfill the law Not to be saved, (a Christian idea), but rather because they are already beneficiaries of the covenant. Paul's problem with the Judaism of his past is not because of anything necessarily wrong with it, but simply because it is not "Christianity". A ready reference for biblical scholars and informed amateurs, this text is not an easy read, but well worth the effort.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Good snapshot of the early NPP debate 15 Feb. 2014
By Jacob - Published on
I didn't find his project to be as radical as many of his critics and followers think it is. More often that not, Sanders hedges his bets and only gives "tentative" proposals. Many of his conclusions will be familiar to those who have wrestled with the NPP:

1) Judaism was not a religion of works-righteousness.
2) Paul was a coherent thinker, if not an organized and systematic one.
3) The tensions in Paul's theology arise from sets of convictions: He does not view Christianity as a different religion than Judaism, yet notes that it is quite different in focusing around Jesus of Nazareth and a loosening of Torah.
3a) Paul gives numerous treatments of the Law which are not easily systematized.


Per 1) I disagree with him, but any answer to this question is tricky. I certainly agree that the Law God gave to his people was not intended to be works-righteousness (otherwise God is a tricksy fellow). That is an entirely different claim than saying 1st century rabbis saw it as such. I think Sanders is guilty of conflating two issues into one. I can agree with him that the average Jew didn't go around in a crude medieval Catholic fashion worrying about how many Hail Marys he said that day. On the other hand, and even the NPP project hints toward this, many did associate at least one level of salvation with who they were as Jews. Contrary to both critics and advocates of NPP, it really isn't that wide a gap between salvation based on my good works and salvation based on my ethnic identity.

Per 2) This might be tough to say, but we all think it: in one sentence what did Paul really teach about the Law? You simply cannot answer it in one sentence. In some places he says its good; others its bad. Romans 2 almost reads it in soteriological terms, yet that is the exact opposite of Paul's larger theology. Surprisingly, Sanders doesn't opt for either easy route: he doesn't say "Paul's view is consistent" nor does he say "Paul is simply incoherent." Rather, he says that Paul is operating around certain parameters from which he does budge. When faced with different ethical situations, it seems like there are different conclusions.

Per 3) This conclusion would have been easier to say pre-70 AD. While the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch, its doubtful they gave themselves that name. They would have saw themselves as good Israelites reconstituted around Jesus of Nazareth, whom God raised from the dead. This creates a real tension that isn't easily solved until the Temple's (and hence, Judaism's identity) is destroyed.

i) It goes without saying that Jewish converts to "The Way" would not have to give up their identity (Paul certainly acts like a good Jew from time to time).
ii) Yet, Gentile converts would not have to embrace Jewish identity markers.

SO far both points are unremarkable. The real problem come with the next one:

iii) Jew and Gentile have to worship together as "one body."

Sanders doesn't really point to a conclusion so much as to highlight the problem.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Navigation Is Difficult 11 Oct. 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a very informative and a delightful read, however, I did not give it five stars because of the difficulty of reading the foot notes (which are numerous) throughout the chapters. It would be an easier read and more benifical if the footnotes were linked and you could read them as you go through the text rather than at the end of the chapter. The lack of the 'link' between the reading and the end of the chapter is very frustrating.
I nonetheless thoroughly enjoy the historical insights and background that Sanders provides 23 Mar. 2015
By Don K. Preston - Published on
Verified Purchase
Sanders is recognized as one of the leading scholars of ancient Judaism and the importance of seeing that the NT writers were themselves Jews, moving in that world view. While I am always a bit unsettled at some of the presuppositions, based on what I see as flawed premises concerning the matter of inspiration, I nonetheless thoroughly enjoy the historical insights and background that Sanders provides. Sanders has "led the way" for a more proper approach to interpreting Paul.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
foundational Paul 16 Feb. 2009
By H. Lightner - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
E.P.Sanders started a new look into Paul. It is a hard read, but worth it. E.P. Sanders is cited so often in other works that you really should read him yourself! E.P. Sanders doesn't claim to know all of the answers and he gives plenty of other viewpoints than his own. Read this along with N.T Wright, but watch out for subtle supersessionism.
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