H. Räisänen (On Paul and the Law; Viewpoints in the ‘New Perspective on Paul’)

– H. Räisänen – 10/20/2011


The crux of Räisänen’s thought is that Paul is arguing that the law serves as an antithesis or a competing dichotomy to a Christian Soteriology. Räisänen is careful to separate his thought from the old Lutheran style, which typified Judaism as “formal, mechanical and anthropocentric piety, an arrogant counting of one’s merits” in his words. Räisänen points out E.P. Sanders’s work, and his theory of ‘covenantal nomism’ as a leading theorist, working to rebut long-standing caricatures that Judaism has had within theological circles.  In addition to favorably engaging Sanders – Räisänen goes through Bultman’s Pauline theory: that to strive for salvation through the law is to embody sin; but this time – he engages Bultman in a critical way, showing that his theory is flawed and subject to various contextual problems.

Räisänen essentially argues that the only real problem with Judaism is that it does not have Christ, and that in this sense he figuratively embodies the idea of a ‘stumbling stone,’ as is described in Romans 9:32.

Räisänen differs from Sanders in that he holds out a caution that Sanders may be quilty of an overuse his rubric of covenantal nonism- in that it may not necessarily be the ‘end all, be all’ in terms of an appropriate systematic theology.

In keeping with the idea of pointing out the so-called Pauline ‘plight-to-solution’  accusation-rubric that the New Perspective employs – it is possible that this same point may affect some of Räisänen’s criticism’s of Bultman. Merely biblically proving a lack of correspondence – does not necessarily confidently discard Bultman’s thesis – especially if credence is given to a Historical-Critical Methodology or other such meta-biblical perspective. Though Paul may not expressly point out the law as a pathway to boasting, does not mean that in the greater some of things – this is not in fact a guiding principle. It is true, that biblical hermeneutics are guided by extra-biblical understandings, in moderate to liberal backgrounds.




Total Word Count: 307



About hollerscholar

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