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Justification and Variegated Nomism: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament. 2. Reihe. 140) [Paperback]

By D. A. Carson (Editor), Peter T. O'Brien (Editor), Mark A. Seifrid (Editor), O'br (Editor), P. Alex Greaney (Editor), Jim Shooter, Becky Freeman & B. Teissier (Editor)
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Item Number 145076  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   619
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 6.07" Height: 1.33"
Weight:   2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2001
Publisher   Baker Academic
ISBN  080102272X  
EAN  9780801022722  


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Item Description...
Overview
An illumination of the complexities of the Judaism of New Testament times, specifically the relationship between Christian faith and Jewish laws.

Publishers Description
A comprehension of Paul's understanding of the law and justification has been a perennial problem for historians and theologians. The need for further clarity has given rise to this collection of essays by an international list of esteemed scholars who seek, in the first of two volumes, to illuminate the complexities of the Judaism of Jesus' (and Paul's) day. Was it a legalistic religion that taught one could be justified before God by obeying law? Was it even one religion, or was it a collection of traditions with some similarities and many dissimilarities?
A second volume is forthcoming which will further this discussion among scholars through an evaluation of the paradoxes of Paul.

Buy Justification and Variegated Nomism: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament. 2. Reihe. 140) by D. A. Carson, Peter T. O'Brien, Mark A. Seifrid, O'br , P. Alex Greaney, Jim Shooter, Becky Freeman & B. Teissier from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780801022722 & 080102272X

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More About D. A. Carson, Peter T. O'Brien, Mark A. Seifrid, O'br , P. Alex Greaney, Jim Shooter, Becky Freeman & B. Teissier

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! D. A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978.

D. a. Carson has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Expositor's Bible Commentary (Paperback)
  2. Expositor's Bible Commentary (Revised)
  3. Gospel Coalition Booklets
  4. Theology in Community


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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General   [6817  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History   [2546  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > New Testa   [1782  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > History of Religion   [1161  similar products]



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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Rating based upon Carson's summary essay at end...  May 2, 2006
This review was originally posted as a discussion topic in the section below. I have decided to add it to the reviews section. As you read below you will see that I actually think that this book, so far as the various contributors aside from Carson, is an excellent book. The various contributors provide excellent discussions of the areas of Jewish literature that they cover--especially from the angle/questions of the Law, how the literature reflects Jewish understanding of it, the identity of Israel and the relation of that to the Law, identity of Israel and eschatological hope, the literature's covenantal-conception of Israel's relationship with its God, how the Judaism reflected by each piece of literature understood `grace,' etc. So, as a book discussing Judaism in the ancient world, especially early Judaism when Jesus was around--several of the essays do not touch on Judaisms contemporary with Jesus and/or prior to 70 CE and 135 CE, which makes a massive difference--this book is excellent. The one star rating reflects how I rate the book with respect to how people in general seem to perceive the book and its goal: to refute Sanders' `Covenantal-Nomism.' The one-star rating reflects what I think of Carson's summary-analysis essay at the end that claims and presents the book as a triumph over Sanders and thus the perceived foundation of the New Perspective on Paul. That term (NPP) means something different to different people. It seems that for most people who do not like the NPP, especially the ones who have not read anything by supposed-NPP scholars, it seems to mean some understanding of Paul that does not present Paul as espousing a Lutheran-Reformed theology. This is relevant as I have lost count of how many times I have seen scholars, who are not technically NPP scholars labeled as NPP who simply try to set Paul in a first century context with his letters addressing first century issues. Please read below to see some short comments on why I think that this book utterly fails to refute Sanders' `Covenantal-Nomism' as a helpful way to designate the pattern of religion exemplified by/in the various Early Judaisms.


First off, if you respond (or post a review in response) to this please indicate how much of this book you have actually read. Now, when I read this book a while back I was struck by several things. After having read Sanders, it seemed that this book was the book out there that, basically, vindicated him! Each contributor that touched upon Judaism during Jesus' time essentially said that Sanders' 'covenantal-nomism' worked as an excellent way of describing whatever segment of Early Judaism (during Jesus' time) that they were treating. The basic criticism of Sanders' concept of covenantal-nomism as applied to Judaism contemporary with Jesus was that Sanders was using protestant-roman catholic categories for discussing Judaism; categories that may not be the most helpful. There were other minor nuanced criticisms, but, again, by and large the contributors upheld Sanders. Let me stress that none of the contributors who touched upon Judaism when Jesus was around claimed that the Old-paradigm for understanding Judaism (semi-Pelagian works-righteousness...merit-seeking-... etc) should stand.


From here I should move onto the most interesting part of my experience of reading the book--reading Carson's summary essay. It seemed that the summary / analysis essay misrepresented the conclusions (import/significance of the contributor's essays for assessing Sanders' covenantal-nomism) to an amazing degree; to the extent of, basically, claiming the opposite of what the contributors wrote. I do not know how to explain this. I was astonished. Numerous scholars/reviews concur with this assessment: John M.G. Barclay, Craig Bomberg (sort of), John Byron, James D.G. Dunn, Pamela Eisenbaum, Donald Garlington, J.R.D. Kirk, David Kuck, Ian W. Scott, etc. Other reviewers note that the contributors assess Sanders fairly positively, but with nuanced criticisms--not criticisms to the extent that Sanders is so wrong that, as Carson's summary essay would leave one to believe, a `traditional approach' to Early Judaism as a context for Paul is still an acceptable understanding.

As a side-note, it is interesting that the contributor who treated 4th Ezra, I Richard Baukham, claimed that it too fit the broad outlines of a covenantal-nomistic pattern of religion. For those of you who have read Sanders' `Paul and Palestinian Judaism,' you will know that 4 Ezra is his main example of an Early Jewish writing that did not exemplify a covenantal-nomistic pattern of religion but, rather, works-righteousness religion. So, at least according to one contributor, Sanders did not really go far enough with his covenantal-nomistic concept. This is one humorous example of how the contributors do not support Carson's analysis/conclusions in the essay at the end of the book in which he tries to smuggle an old-perspective understanding of Early Judaism in the back door.

So, in semi-response to `A Reader' who posted a non-review on May 31, 2004, this book does not challenge `the (?) New Perspective. Rather, it stands as an obstacle that challenges to `the NPP'--or at least post-Sanders understandings of Early Judaism--must overcome. Lastly, this volume is one of the main reasons why volume 2 (The Paradoxes of Paul) is, in my view, not very helpful. Since the contributors to volume 2 basically presuppose Carson's account of `the findings' of volume 1, they set out in a wrong/uninformed direction. They also do not touch on the places where the serious debate needs to happen, what is/was Paul's context(s)?

Lastly, I will make some comments about Carson's essay specifically (this section was not in the discussion post). Carson seems to argue against positions that his supposed opponents do not hold. From reading Carson one would get the impression that Sanders and those who follow him think Early Judaism to be one large homogenous unit, with no diversity. They would think that Sanders claims to have presented a systematic-theology of Early Judaism. Carson may acknowledge in some places that Sanders is not trying to present this, I do not remember. Nevertheless, from reading his negative sections; sections where he presents his findings in polemical-genre as though they are set against Sanders, it seems that he is thus presenting Sanders and his followers as thinking they have presented a definitive systematic-theology for Early Judaism. This is blatant misrepresentation of Sanders in the form of arguing against an opponent who does not exist/implicitly and (sometimes explicitly) attributing to Sanders and his followers positions that they do not hold. This is similar to Carson's claim that Sanders' Paul is a Paul whose Christianity is a from of covenantal-nomism followed by Carson's comments against that--in Carson's lectures against the NPP at RTS Charlotte (see p511-15 for Sanders' claim that Paul's pattern of religion is not covenantal nomism). This is all absurd. Sanders explicitly acknowledges the diversity of Early Judaism. In fact, the whole point of his calling covenantal-nomism a `pattern of religion' is that he cannot present a systematic theology of Early Judaism because it is so diverse. In fact, Sanders does not even claim to survey all relevant Jewish data. Note that his title has reference to Palestinian Judaism--lest someone, such as Carson, want to jump in and claim that thus Sanders sets up a false barrier between Palestinian Judaism and Hellenistic Judaism, etc, Sanders also notes that one cannot do this, but nevertheless he will restrict himself to Palestinian Judaism-literature for `practical' (pg2) reasons. One can find all of this in Sanders' short (32 page) introduction section to `Paul and Palestinian Judaism.' Lest one want to criticize Sanders for addressing those issues in the introduction and ignoring them throughout the rest of the book, he or she should read the rest of the book and see how conscious Sanders remains of all the introductory issues throughout the book. In fact, I recommend reading the introductory section that one can see what Sanders' goals were, who he is arguing against, etc--basically to help set Sanders' book in context and thus understand it better.


I hope that this pseudo-review has been helpful. I know that it is not really a review as it does not do the things that a typical review does. Nevertheless, I think it should be helpful as it addresses the concerns and questions that most of the people who are interested in `Justification and Variegated Nomism, volume 1' have. It does not refute Sanders. It does not challenge the (?) NPPs at all as it does not challenge the (?) new (for Protestants) view of Judaism that Sanders set Protestant scholarship on the trajectory to realizing. For people who think that Carson is just `the best evangelical scholar' and `an authority in this area,' please think again. Though he may be a great scholar, my interaction with his work, limited to this two-volume series and his lectures on the NPP at RTS-Charlotte to which I listened online--and some other things--showed me `a Carson' who misrepresents his opponents. He most basically does this by arguing against positions that they do not hold in a way that makes it seem as though they hold them. He also obscures data and issues, twists the work/words of other scholars around greatly, and at the end of all this really succeeds in not actually addressing the issues that need to be addressed. Or, to put it another way, Carson throws up a smoke-screen of jargon, twisting, and misrepresentation. He does this especially with respect to this book--such that the questions that Sanders raised about understanding Early Judaism, other scholars' tweaking and development of Sanders (especially in terms of learning to analyze Judaism in less `protestant' categories and learning to ask better questions of the Jewish literature), etc are not touched in his summary-analysis essay. Instead, if one reads only his introductory essay and summary-analysis essay--as Carson recommends in his RTS-Charlotte NPP lectures--one comes away without any real substantive interaction with the issues and discussion of the contributors to the volume (perhaps Seifrid's essay excepted). More than that, one comes away with a total misunderstanding of Sanders, his followers in understanding Early Judaism from his `covenantal-nomism' trajectory-perspective, and the impression that, basically, all the contributors would be happy with an old-perspective understanding of Early Judaism. This is the `function' of Carson saying that Sanders is not right everywhere. If you disagree, go read volume 2 in which the contributors `assume' Carson's findings in volume one and proceed to read Paul against the background of a--basically--`old- perspective' view of Early Judaism.

This is where I remain baffled by the American Evangelical-Reformed `responses' to Sanders and `the NPP.' How does affirming the complexity and diversity of early Judaism obviate the necessity of still setting Paul in some sort of 1st century context in which the issues that were in the air for Early Jews--across the spectrum--inform and direct our readings of Paul? Doing this requires the serious study of Early Judaism. This in turn brings about the realization that the traditional Protestant understandings of Early Judaism--the `old perspective'--are woefully inadequate. Such understandings front issues that were not really issues in the 1st century--such as the traditional Protestant conception of `works-righteousness'--and generally produce a Paul that fits in more with Reformation and post-Reformation debates with Rome than a Paul who fits plausibly in the ancient Mediterranean world. I submit that Carson and his followers' continued ringing of the `complexity of Early Judaism' bell functions as `feel-safe' language. All the non-specialists, Evangelical and Reformed pastors and students can `feel safe' in their traditional readings of Paul because Sanders' view of Judaism covers just one of the many perspectives within Early Judaism. Since it is so complex, clearly you do not need to worry about studying it--`we' can nullify anything anyone says about Early Judaism that might unsettle our traditional readings of Paul by throwing the `complexity' card at them; we can burry them in jargon and ignore issues, etc. Carson thus gives the impression that attempts to sketch any context for Paul from Early Judaism--that differs from the broad ones upon which traditional readings depend--is pointless because describing Judaism is just a crapshoot; it is so complex that any articulations of it meant to be used as context for Paul cannot be more than `speculation' that have not reckoned with the complexity. I ask again--from a different angle--in what context do traditional readings of Paul situate him? What context informs and directs the traditional readings' understanding of Paul, the assumed issues and ways of thinking that make up his horizon, etc? If Judaism is just `so complex,' how does the traditional old-perspective view come up with an old-perspective view of Judaism as a relevant context for understanding Paul? After all, Judaism is just `so complex.' My point in all this is that every reading of anything presupposes a context within which one has set it--consciously or unconsciously. Somehow readings of Paul must reckon with Early Judaism as a major component of Paul's horizon--the question is just how and what does it look like? More traditional, anti-NPP readings of Paul depend upon such an assumed Early Jewish context as much as NPP readings, readings of Paul from others in the Salvation-history approach to Paul, and readings of Paul from the so called `Apocalyptic' school (Martyn, Beker, Marcus, Campbell, etc)--and the variations combining the various approaches. If the traditional and `old-perspective' wants to continue to articulate a reading of Paul, it must positively argue for its version of Paul's context rather than simply trying to make it seem like the study of Early Judaism is too complex to be really useful to this discussion of Paul. Again, the traditional reading depends upon some sort of supposed Jewish context--it just leaves this unsaid while fighting Sanders and the NPP as it attempts to make American Evangelical-Reformed pastors and students `feel safe.' I should conclude this lengthy paragraph--which I see as relevant for discussing Carson's essay--by mentioning that I agree with Carson and most scholars that Early Judaism was very diverse. In fact, I do not think one can posit any form of Early Judaism as `mainstream' Judaism. But, I know that the serious study of and immersion within Early Jewish literature, history, etc helps one understand the broad horizons/context out of which Paul came. This helps us see how all the diverse forms of early Judaism did wrestle with some common issues and shared a similar broad horizon within which they understood the world--even among their disagreements. In order to get more detailed--and to sketch context relevant for understanding Paul--you have to study further. The complexity of Early Judaism does not nullify attempts to study it and understand what was `in the air' in different places for different peoples in the world of Paul.

So, please read this book. It is an excellent discussion of Judaism(s) in the ancient world with a specific set of questions in mind. The contributors themselves (besides Carson) do substantively interact with Sanders as well. But, if you are looking for a book to be able to hurl at supposed followers of `the NPP'--the reason many look to it--do not bother. In fact, if you are using it that way, simply mentioning the name as though it stands as the great critique of Sanders, you really should stop doing that. Lastly, as I mentioned above, it is because of this book that I find volume 2 to be, largely, a failure. Some of the essays within it are very helpful--see Westerholm's essay summarizing `the NPP' over the last 25 years, Silva's essay (even though I tend to lean in the direction against which he is arguing) on the subjective vs. objective genetive reading of pistis christou in the context of faith vs. works of the law in Galatians that takes the `objective position' and supplements its previous arguments with the findings of an article published by another scholar, and Hengel's essay (which was previously published in the Tubingen symposium volume `Paul and the Mosaic Law'...Hengel is an excellent scholar). Even so, however, since the main exegetical contributions and related essays presuppose Carson's understanding of volume 1, this volume thus does not really touch some of the most important `Paul in context' issues that need to be touched in the discussion that volume 2 seeks to advance (critique it seeks to bring).

This `edition' of this review from May 2006 has not really changed any of the content. It does include a new paragraph discussing the complexity of Early Judaism and the function of Carson always mentioning that.

Thank you for your time.
 
Great Response to New Challenges of Justification By Faith  Aug 10, 2005
Volume 1 addresses the various (variegated) views held by the Jews during the second temple period about the relationship of the Law (nomism) to salvation (justifcation). It focuses on the era before and right after the time of Jesus. Understanding the views of this era help us with understanding the background of the New Testament.

D.A. Carson, one of today's greatest evangelical scholars, has elicited the help of many scholars, some evangelical, others not; he is the editor of the two-part series, but most of the material is provided by the illustrious contributors. The overall purpose of this two volume set is to refute the "Covenantal Nomism" (the view that "you get into the covenant by grace, but you stay in it by keeping the Law") of E.P. Sanders. It also seeks to refute the "New Perspective" as to what Paul the Apostle really meant when he spoke of salvation "apart from the Law." Volume one shows that Sanders erred: there is no one view that dominated all Jewish thought before the time of Christ (or shortly thereafter). Volume 2 then completes the project by demonstrating that the "New Perspective" may be "new," but it is not correct. The Reformers really did know what they were talking about.

But whether you are debating the "New Perspective" or not, you will find Volume I rich! You will sharpen your understanding of the thinking of the Jewish world from about 200 B.C. to about 100 A.D. You will delve into the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, the Talmud, etc.; those who want to better understand the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith will also appreciate this volume.

Volume I is not intended for the average layman, but a trained pastor can understand this work Although a few parts are dry, other portions are absolutely fascinating.

Does Volume I accomplish its goal? Absolutely.

Volume II, "The Paradoxes of Paul" address the issue, "Did Paul really believe that one entered the covenant by grace (accepting Christ as opposed to Jewish birth) but then maintained his status in the covenant by keeping the Law?" The clear answer of this volume is "no." We enter by grace and we are kept in the covenant by grace.

A team of mostly evangelical scholars proves that "the works of the Law" refer not merely to the boundary markers of Judaism (circumcision, etc.), but even to keeping the 10 Commandments. When Paul talks about salvation "apart from the works of the Law," he is saying more than, "apart from becoming a Jew." He is saying that the Law is good, but when used in an attempt to be justified, the Law cannot deliver. We are saved by grace through faith; God justifies the "ungodly," not the law keeper.

The authors, all respected scholars, take us back to the clear teaching of Scripture. If we look at Paul without a pre-existing template, they argue, we find that law keeping has no (positive) bearing on salvation because no one can keep the law. Paul concludes us all "under sin." Although obeying God evidences our forensic justification, it does not accomplish it.

As Moises Silva points out, "Indeed, faith is by definition the abandonment of our works and efforts so that we might rely solely on divine grace..."

The various essays take us through the theological portion of Romans and Galatians with a few stops in Philippians 3.

Besides addressing the issue of salvation by grace through faith in contrast to salvation by grace and works, the authors also address the nature of the atonement, the very real wrath of God that is directed toward mankind, and both the continuity and discontinuity in Paul (before and after his conversion). They also address whether he really was converted or just received a specialized calling.

With great scholars, like Mark Seifrid, Douglas Moo, Peter O'Brien, and D.A. Carson (among others), these essays are well done and devastating, I would suppose, to Covenantal Nomists.

On the negative side, because each chapter is an individual essay, there is quite a bit of repetition within this work.

Also worth mentioning is that this work is not intended for the layman. One could probably get by without Greek, but the reader needs at least a modest theological background, I would think, to follow these arguments.
 
Examines Ancient Jewish Beliefs About Justification--Excels!  Jun 11, 2005
Volume 1 addresses the various (variegated) views held by the Jews during the second temple period about the relationship of the Law (nomism) to salvation (justifcation). It focuses on the era before and right after the time of Jesus. Understanding the views of this era help us with understanding the background of the New Testament.

D.A. Carson, one of today's greatest evangelical scholars, has elicited the help of many scholars, some evangelical, others not; he is the editor of the two-part series, but most of the material is provided by the illustrious contributors. The overall purpose of this two volume set is to refute the "Covenantal Nomism" (the view that "you get into the covenant by grace, but you stay in it by keeping the Law") of E.P. Sanders. It also seeks to refute the "New Perspective" as to what Paul the Apostle really meant when he spoke of salvation "apart from the Law." Volume one shows that Sanders erred: there is no one view that dominated all Jewish thought before the time of Christ (or shortly thereafter). Volume 2 (I am still reading it) then completes the project by demonstrating that the "New Perspective" may be "new," but it is not correct. The Reformers really did know what they were talking about.

But whether you are debating the "New Perspective" or not, you will find this volume rich! You will sharpen your understanding of the thinking of the Jewish world from about 200 B.C. to about 100 A.D. You will delve into the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, the Talmud, etc.; those who want to better understand the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith will also appreciate this volume.

This book is not intended for the average layman, but a trained pastor can understand this work (which is all I am; I am no scholar). Although a few parts are dry, other portions are absolutely fascinating.

Does the book accomplish its goal? Absolutely.
 
Excellent  Mar 12, 2005
This book is a true find! I must say it is not easy reading however. It includes 15 essays (usually 20-60 pages each), each surveying the concept of righteousness in a particular group of Jewish writings. This volume is intended to be the basis for volume 2 in which Pauline theology will be analyzed. The set overall is an examination of the "New perspective" theology which claims that Christians have mislabelled Judaism as a "works for salvation" or merit-based religion.
 
An interesting undertaking  Jun 1, 2004
With all fairness, this is a preview, not a review; if I may cheat for just this once. But I believe it important to note this upcoming books' importance to modern theology. I believe if there are any serious attempts to refute the New Perspective, this one will be the most decisive one. Might I note that I am not placing blind faith in this book, but rather in the crucial task that D. A. Carson and likeminded contributers have undertaken in defending the reformed faith.
 

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