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Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The "Lutheran" Paul and His Critics
Stephen Westerholm

0802848095 Retail Price: $35.00
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Format: Paperback, 491pp.
ISBN: 0802848095
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pub. Date: December 2003

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From The Publisher:

Here, finally, is a much-needed review and analysis of the divergent interpretations of Paul. With a clear head and winsome sense of humor, Stephen Westerholm compares the traditional understanding of Paul to more recent readings, drawing on the writings of key figures in the debate both past and present.

Westerholm first offers a detailed portrait of the "Lutheran" Paul, including the way such theologians as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley have traditionally interpreted "justification by faith" to mean that God declares sinners "righteous" by his grace apart from "works." Westerholm then explores how Paul has fared in the twentieth century, in which "New Perspective" readings of Paul see him teaching that Gentiles need not become Jews or observe Jewish law to be God's people. The final section of the book looks anew at disputed areas of Paul's theological language and offers compelling discussion on the place of both justification by faith and Mosaic law in divine redemption.


Stephen Westerholm’s book is the ideal entrée into the discussion on Paul, the law, and justification. Only here will readers find both contemporary and historic contributions to the debate explained. Westerholm reminds us that Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley must be reckoned with seriously as profound interpreters of Paul. He also provides his own incisive and insightful contribution to the biblical text, repristinating the perspective of Luther for our day. Throughout, Westerholm writes with the sparkling clarity and wit that is characteristic of all his work.
—Thomas R. Schreiner

This eagerly awaited volume is a gem. After years of debate about the “new perspective,” a debate bogged down with multiple confusions, Stephen Westerholm describes and analyzes all the main viewpoints on Paul’s theology of law, grace, and justification from Augustine onward. With enviable clarity, incisive observation, and shafts of humor, Westerholm reaffirms and refines the “old perspective” while also incorporating the strong points of the new. This is the book we all have needed, both scholars and students. It will surely help us escape the impasse in our current debates.
—John Barclay

Since its publication in 1988, Stephen Westerholm’s book Israel’s Law and the Church’s Faith has served as one of the best explorations of Paul’s view of justification by faith. That book is now superseded by Perspectives Old and New on Paul. Westerholm here elongates the temporal parameters of his earlier work, reconstructing the views of Paul’s most significant interpreters from the distant past to the turn of the twenty-first century. Against the backdrop of his fair and principled survey of scholarship, Westerholm’s own examination of Paul’s texts is characterized by a depth of analytical and theological perception rarely found in scholarly studies. For those with time to read only one book about Paul’s view of justification by faith, this should be the book. And for those with time to read more, this is the book to start with.
—Bruce W. Longenecker

Written with sparkling humor, this book is a landmark work both in its treatment of the vast scholarly literature and in its crisp exegesis of Paul himself. Perspectives Old and New on Paul is proof again, if proof were needed, that Stephen Westerholm is still head and shoulders above almost everyone else as an interpreter of Paul.
—Simon J. Gathercole

Stephen Westerholm’s most recent missive from the battlefield of Pauline studies will enliven the most dazed student and cheer the crustiest scholar. With his clear head and winsome sense of humor, Westerholm has once again produced one of the most insightful and readable studies available on the role of the Mosaic law, divine grace, and Christian faith in Pauline theology.
—Frank Thielman


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About the Author

Stephen Westerholm is associate professor of biblical studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. His other books include Preface to the Study of Paul and Israel’s Law and the Church’s Faith: Paul and His Recent Interpreters.

Table of Contents

Whimsical Introduction


  • Augustine
    1. Creation
    2. The Fall
    3. Redemption
    4. The Place of the Law
    5. Human Dependence on Grace
    6. Summary

  • Martin Luther

  • John Calvin
    1. Divine Providence and Human Responsibility
    2. Adam
    3. Christ
    4. Abraham and Moses
    5. The Life of the Redeemed
    6. Summary

  • John Wesley
    1. Of Human ature and the Covenant of Works
    2. The Covenant of Grace and the Path to Faith
    3. The New Birth and the Path to Sanctification
    4. The Law and the Spirit
    5. Providence and the “Divine Decrees”
    6. Summary

  • A Portrait of the “Lutheran” Paul


  • Paul’s “Polemical Doctrine”: Wrede and Schweitzer
    1. William Wrede
    2. Albert Schweitzer

  • The Faith of Paul’s Fathers: Montefiore, Schoeps, and Sanders
    1. Claude G. Montefiore
    2. Hans Joachim Schoeps
    3. E. P. Sanders

  • Paul's Robust Conscience: Kümmel and Stendahl
    1. W. G. Kümmel
    2. Krister Stendahl

  • The “Righteousness of the Law”: Bultmann, Wilckens, and Sanders
    1. Rudolf Bultmann
    2. Ulrich Wilckens
    3. E. P. Sanders

  • The “Hobgoblin” of Consistency: Drane, Hübner, and Räisänen
    1. John W. Drane
    2. Hans Hübner
    3. Heikki Räisänen

  • Saint Paul against the Lutherans: Wright, Dunn, and Donaldson
    1. N. T. Wright
    2. James D. G. Dunn
    3. Terence Donaldson

  • “Lutheran” Responses
    1. C. E. B. Cranfield
    2. Thomas Schreiner and Andrew Das
    3. Frank Thielman
    4. Mark Seifrid

  • Other Perspective
    1. Paul’s Anthropology: Timo Laato
    2. Paul’s Rhetoric: Lauri Thurén and Jean-Noël Aletti
    3. Paul’s Apocalyptic Worldview: J. Louis Martyn
    4. Paul’s Theology of the Cross: Jürgen Becker

  • The Quotable Anti-“Lutheran” Paul
    1. Judaism Preaches Grace
    2. What Paul Finds Wrong with Judaism
    3. What “Justification by Faith” is For, and What “Not by Works” is Against


  • Matters of Definition, 1: “Righteousness” in Paul
    1. Terminology
    2. Ordinary Dikaiosness
    3. Extraordinary Dikaiosness
    4. Divine Dikaiosness
    5. Dikaiosness and “the Covenant”

  • Matters of Definition, 2: The “Law” in Paul
    1. The Meaning of “Law”
    2. The Law and “Works”
    3. The Law and Faith
    4. The Law and Legalism
    5. The Law and Torah

  • Matters of Definition, 3: Grace in Sanders’s Judaism

  • “Justification by Faith” in Paul’s Thought: The Evidence in Review
    1. 1 Thessalonians
    2. 1 and 2 Corinthians
    3. Galatians
    4. Romans
    5. Philippians
    6. Ephesians, the Pastorals — and James?

  • The Law in God’s Scheme

  • Grace Abounding to Sinners or Erasing Ethnic Boundaries?

    Index of Authors
    Index of Scripture and Other Ancient Literature

  • .
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