Levenson, Barclay and the New Perspective

I am in a quandary about my next project.

The Jon Levenson book,  The Love of God, is the first part of an idea for looking at the love of God or the grace of God from both a Jewish and Christian point of view.

The next likely project is John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift. By all accounts it is a ground-breaking book.  But it is a very expensive book even in Kindle format.  In addition, there are long sections of it I am not sure I need to read.  According to Tim Foster’s review here,

It is not necessary to read every one of the 656 pages of Paul and the Gift. The one hundred page analysis of Second Temple texts can be missed, and the excellent summary chapter read instead. The same could be said for the historical survey – except that he offers such a helpful refresher of historical theology that it is a worthwhile read.

So while I am making up my mind how to approach this, here is an enlightening interview with Barclay.

Note that he says near the end that Paul and the Gift is only the first book.  He plans a sequel on human love as a part of the reciprocal relation between God’s gift and our response.  So getting into this at all seems to involve a lot of commitment.

My desire is to talk about the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) in the light of Levenson’s view of the divine-human love relationship as a treaty or covenant concept.

I guess you could say that Levenson’s view is covenantal nomism as E.P. Sanders and other NPP proponents have called it.  Yet “nomism” implies a more legalistic and less reciprocal view than I see in Levenson.  It is the reciprocity of gift and response which might be a bridge between a view like that of Levenson and a view like that of Barclay.

Also I am not as much into theology and doctrine as many of the people discussing Barclay’s work.  I do not have a stake in the standard evangelical dogma of salvation with its original sin, penal atonement, and imputed righteousness.  So I am interested in Barclay’s biblical interpretation but not so much in how it relates to Augustine, Luther, Calvin, or John Piper.  I don’t want to get into the weeds about historical theology.

I have found a few lectures on line by Barclay.  I may just go ahead and blog about some of those lectures after I watch them.


About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
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