This book presents a series of studies on contentious aspects of Paul's doctrine of justification including the meaning of `righteousness', the question of imputation, the role of resurrection in justification, an evaluation of the New Perspective, the soteriological and ecclesiological significance of justification, justification by faith with judgement according to works, and debates over the orthodoxy of N.T. Wright. The burden of the volume is to demonstrate that reformed and `new' readings of Paul are indispensable to attaining a full understanding of Paul's soteriology. An analysis of Galatians and Romans demonstrates that the convenantal and forensic dimensions of justification go hand in glove. The vertical and horizontal aspects need to be appropriately described and weighted in order to provide a holistic rendering of justification in Paul's letters. According to Paul, faith alone in Jesus Christ is the instrument of eschatological vindication; and faith alone marks out the true people of God.
`In a debate where the worst of Protestant in-fighting has been revived, and "the spirit of slavery" has been more influential than "the Spirit of adoption", Michael Bird's treatment is more than welcome. His is a calm, judicious and eirenic voice amid the welter of paranoid accusation and counter-accusation, which ought to be heard widely, and -- more important -- ought to be heeded. Perhaps then the world will be able to say again, "See how these Christians love one another" -- without sneering!.' James D. G. Dunn, Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, University of Durham
`For fair treatment and thoroughness of coverage, including that of literature which usually flies under most scholars' radar, this book is probably unmatched.' Robert H. Gundry, Scholar-in-residence and Professor Emeritus, Westmont College
`The so-called "new perspective" continues to exercise a profound effect on studies both of Judaism and of Paul. Students may well be confused by the complexities of the debate, but Michael Bird helpfully shows how fruitful insights can be derived from scholars on both sides of it. This fresh and sane approach to a difficult area will clarify the essential issues for students and preachers alike as they wrestle with expounding the thought of Paul for the contemporary church.' I. Howard Marshall, Honorary Research Professor of New Testament, University of Aberdeen
`The study of what Paul means by "justification" has hopped its rails, and now scholars from opposing perspectives -- traditional Reformation theology and the New Perspective -- have exited the train and are standing on opposite sides of the track tossing stones at one another. Michael Bird has called for a peace plan. and his proposal of an incorporated righteousness not only offers peace but can actually get the train back on its tracks so we can get on with moving the gospel into our world. This study deserves a "Nobel peace prize in Theology".' Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University, Chicago
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Although he is a "historical Jesus specialist and Synoptic Gospels kind-a-guy," Michael Bird is also an insightful academic that has been well versed in reformed and revisionist readings of Paul; being such, in this monograph he is conversant with the aggressive questions that have both camps up in arms. Evenhandedly, the book embarks upon the fundamental issues and finds both parties lacking in areas and needing each other's help in their endeavor to better understand Paul. Naturally, the discussion surrounds itself around the gamut of righteousness language: imputed righteousness, the righteousness of God, Justification to the doers of the law, covenant membership, forensic justification, etc. Among these, I thought the developments and arguments made in chapter six, "Justification as Forensic Status or Covenant Membership," to be the most rewarding, which gives a tour de force of relevant intertestamental and first century common era literature in discussing Galatians and Romans. Additionally, this volume puts forward an alternative to imputation in a discussion of the helpful phrase "incorporated righteousness." Michael also gracefully challenges the skeptical and critical reader of NT Wright to take a good second look at the bishop and his views, hoping for them to come away less discordant as he shows them the profits to be made in Wright's scholarship. Furthermore and particularly noteworthy is that SROG gives nineteen of its pages to treating its readers to the developments made by Seifrid and Gaffin concerning the role of resurrection in salvation, calling attention to its vital function in justification.
While this book could be a difficult read for one unfamiliar with Paul's world and the NP, readers of Paul will lament if they pass this monograph over; it must be read if one is to continue to be reasonable in their exploration of the apostle to the gentiles and remain in balance with reformed and revisionist views concerning Paul's thought.
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