C. E. B. Cranfield (On Paul and the Law; Viewpoints in the ‘New Perspective on Paul’)

– C. E. B. Cranfield – 11/1/2011



The purpose of Cranfield’s essay is to unpack his observations of Paul’s theology as it relates to the law. Cranfield makes the argument that it is a very nuanced and “intricate” doctrine. Cranfield then goes through a list of bullet points – which serve to illustrate various points of delineation in regards to how the law functions, when interpreted through an appropriately understood Pauline theology. Cranfield’s first point is that the law is not our own – but rather God’s and that it is a  “in no way illusory, though it is a dangerous, privilege.” Secondly, that it manifests the sin that has always been present in man, as the disobedience to God that it is, and that it [thirdly] not only enhances/clarifies sin but also [fourthly] causes that sin to be more pronounced and deliberate on our part when we engage in it.

An important aspect of then law then becomes [fifthly] that it provides for the possibility of legalism, whereby man is tempted to somehow ‘make a claim upon God,’ through the law. [Sixthly,] the law is a pronouncement of God’s curse, but also [seventhly, and (most importantly) ] manifests the “ultimate goal and innermost meaning of itself” (not in the condemnation of sinners) but in the revelation of Christ. This distinction between potential for an inappropriate legalism and the crucial necessity of Christ as the culmination point of the full and total revelation of the law, serves as the focal point of the rest of Cranfield’s essay. Cranfield tries to unpack exactly the ‘Christ as Goal’ interpretive rubric looks like arguing for what the ‘claim of Christ’ upon a man’s life looks like in ‘meaning and substance.’

One possible flaw in Cranfield’s thought is a loss of the dialectic, especially of liberty is seen as ‘thesis’ and legalism is its counter ‘antithesis.’   An apologist for Cranfield may argue that Cranfield’s Christ is the just such a dialiectical synthesis, spelled out.




Total Words:  321



About hollerscholar

I'm a theology & philosophy student, writer, web developer, and medical laboratory professional.
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