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Morality and boundaries in Paul

29 Jun 2012-Hts Teologiese Studies-theological Studies (Oasis)-Vol. 68, Iss: 1, pp 7

AbstractIn the Pauline communities, ethics, ethos and identity were closely intertwined. This essay analyses the way in which Paul emphasised the mental boundaries of the Christ communities to turn them into moral boundaries. In this process, the fencing off of these communities over against their past and their present was a fundamental feature of Paul’s reasoning. The communities thus became fenced off from their past, because the Christ event was seen as causing a major change in history. This change affected both Gentile and Jewish believers. At the same time, Paul stressed the boundaries with the outside world: he characterised the inside world as the loyal remnant of Israel, consisting of Jews and Gentiles alike, and pointed out that this group is the group of the elect ‘saints’. The perspective with which Paul looked at ethics and morality inside this group was strongly coloured by the assumed identity of this group as ‘Israel’. Even though the Mosaic Law was no longer the focal point for the identity of this eschatological Israel, the ethical demands Paul mentioned over against the members of this new Israel were highly influenced by the morality of the law. For Paul, sanctification was a fundamental ideal, and this ideal reflected the spirituality of the Holiness Code of Leviticus. This particular ethical model was framed by the awareness that Paul (and Christ before him) was ‘sent’ by God, much in the same way the prophets of Israel themselves had been sent.

Topics: Holiness code (57%), Morality (53%), Sanctification (52%), Identity (social science) (52%), Judaism (52%) more

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Abstract: South African biblical scholars – particularly those who focus on the Old Testament – are known for their engagement with themes that can be termed social ethical. This impulse is used as starting point to investigate the relevance of social ethics in South Africa and its current status. It is argued that social ethical reflection is of particular relevance for South Africa. This thesis is investigated in two ways. Firstly, the applicability of social ethics as academic field is examined and it is shown that post-apartheid South African political institutions, systems and processes themselves are subjected to major changes and developments – a traditional area of focus of social ethics. Secondly, the current status of social ethical reflection in theological journals based in South Africa is investigated. The article concludes by showing that the current status of social ethical reflection in South African academic theology does not reflect the perceived need for social ethical reflection.

15 citations

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Abstract: Gordon Fee's work on I Corinthians is a contribution to The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Prepared by some of the world's leading scholars, the series provides an exposition of the New Testament books that is thorough and fully abreast of modern scholarship yet faithful to the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God.

496 citations

01 Nov 1997
Abstract: The Theology of Paul the Apostle, by James D. G. Dunn. Grand Rapids/Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 1998. Pp. xvi + 808. $45.00/29.95. Into this massive volume Professor Dunn has poured both his vast learning and his passion for his hero, Paul. The result is detail (sometimes, perhaps, tedious) wedded with engagement (sometimes, certainly, enthusiastic). In his "Prolegomena" the author lays out the basic judgments that determine the structure and character of what is to follow. It is important to mention a few. ( 1 ) "Theology" is to be assigned a breadth that includes worship and ethics. "A theology remote from everyday living would not be a theology of Paul" (p. 9). (2) Paul's theology must be constructed out of a synthetic analysis of all the authentic letters. (3) Yet Paul's theology is more than the sum total of the statements in his letters, since they imply and depend upon a larger theological structure. Dunn uses the image of the iceberg: what we see suggests much of what we cannot see. This is dangerous water (the reader will pardon the metaphor), since it provides opportunity for the researcher to find just about anything. What Dunn finds is a flourishing Judaism, complete with frequent allusions to Torah and the teaching of Jesus. (4) As a structure for his book, Dunn proposes to use, as far as possible, Paul's outline in Romans, since that is Paul's own, most mature, structure. Along with a number of scholars, Dunn rejects the idea of a static "center" in Paul, although he is prepared to accept Beker's term, "coherence." Some allowance must be made for fluidity and even development. (5) And what should be the attitude of the researcher to Paul? Dunn states it clearly: "The most fruitful dialogues depend on a degree of sympathy of the one dialogue partner for the concerns of the other" (p. 12). This is preferable to "a hostile hermeneutic of suspicion" found in some interpreters, especially, apparently, those who investigate Paul's rhetoric (he names no names). Whether or not Dunn's structure is always aligned with that of Romans, it does suggest that of a theological handbook. First the author describes Paul's God, a God who is consistently Jewish. "Paul's conversion had not changed his belief in and about God" (p. 29). Then comes the human as created and finite, followed by the human in sin. At this point Christ enters the scheme: the historical person, the crucified (perhaps for Dunn the key concept), the resurrected, the preexistent, the eschatological. In the section on "the crucified" it is interesting to see that Dunn lumps together Paul's statements about sacrifice, redemption, reconciliation, and christus victor, but not grace and justification. After the event of Christ salvation can begin (in this chapter comes grace as event, justification by faith, participation in Christ, spirit, and baptism). But this has to be followed by the process of salvation, which includes treatment of Romans 9-11. The final chapters deal with the church and ethics. I detail his structure because an author's perspective is so clearly revealed in it. For example, how different the outcome might have been if the topics of grace and justification were part of the discussion about God or Christ! Who is the Paul that emerges from this book? First of all, he remains a Jew in heart and mind. What has been added to his Judaism, of course, is the belief that Jesus is God's chosen one, the center of whose activity is the saving activity in the cross. What is changed in his Judaism is liberation from the narrow pride of a community which saw itself as singly called by God. …

412 citations

01 Jan 1933
Abstract: Named one of Church Times's Best Christian Books This volume provides a much-needed English translation of the sixth edition of what is considered the fundamental text for fully understanding Barthianism Barth--who remains a powerful influence on European and American theology--argues that the modern Christian preacher and theologian face the same basic problems that confronted Paul Assessing the whole Protestant argument in relation to modern attitudes and problems, he focuses on topics such as Biblical exegesis; the interrelationship between theology, the Church, and religious experience; the relevance of the truth of the Bible to culture; and what preachers should preach

332 citations

01 Jan 1996
Abstract: Douglas Moo's work on the Epistle to the Romans is part of The New International Commentary on the New Testament Prepared by some of the world's leading scholars, the series provides an exposition of the New Testament books that is thorough and fully abreast of modern scholarship yet faithful to the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God

321 citations