Friday, 18 December 2015
A Question of Contradictions
Unity and Diversity in Christ: Interpreting Paul in Context: Collected Essays,
Willian S. Campbell, Cascade Books, 2013, page 73
The older Lutheran view of Paul and the shiny "New Perspective" introduce a scholarly conflict. Campbell puts it this way:
The conflict surrounding the question of contradictions in Paul's thought arises mainly from a debate as to what constitutes the "real Paul". Is he the heroic Paul who is depicted as the champion of the gentiles or is the "revised Paul" of Romans, especially of Romans 11? To put it another way: is the real Paul to be identified with the previous pro-gentile image of the apostle, or with the more recent Jewish Paul identified in Romans, particularly in chapters 9-11? Is the apostle really pro-gentile (partial to gentiles and their cause) or is his gospel "to the Jew first and also the gentile" (inclusive and impartial)?
How too might the canonical process play into this? If the older view - that Romans 9-11 is something of a now irrelevant parenthetical block, written simply for people at the time - has been "blessed" and "approved" by the community that has been preserving and interpreting the text for the last 1900 years, does that make it the canonical interpretation and therefore in any way immutable?
Or, as has been recently put to me by a scholar of some repute, is Paul's "to the Jew first and also the gentile" actually showing deliberate preference to theJews, bringing the gentiles up to join them, but marking the Jews for priority in line with G-d's first and ancient choice of the Jewish people?