Those who have seen The Sixth Sense will recall that bombshell moment, when everything we thought we “saw” was wrong, and we realized we would have to re-watch – or at least re-think – the entire movie. Suddenly, scenes that “clearly” communicated one thing are revealed to communicate another. A silent meal between husband and wife, on first viewing appeared to reveal marital conflict, but when re-watched becomes something else entirely. Matthew Theissen in Paul and the Gentile Problem recognizes that our reading of Scripture can be similar. We all have the same data, but changing one’s presuppositions, or sometimes simply the details of a single interpretation, may require a re-reading of the whole. This is seen clearly in the Old and New Perspectives on Paul, where the same texts are used to reach different conclusions. However, Thiessen believes both viewpoints are faulty! In fact, they are both faulty in the same way: both the Old and New “believe that Paul’s letters contain substantial criticisms of Judaism” (p8). In contrast, Thiessen believes Paul did not reject Judaism as legalistic (Old) or ethnocentric (New), but as “the wrong solution to the gentile problem” (p14). But what of Paul’s criticisms of the Law? This is where the movie needs to be re-watched, so to speak. When we recognize that Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and as such, wrote specifically to Gentiles, all becomes clear. Paul’s polemical words regarding the Law are not a critique about the Law itself, but about the Law applied to Gentiles.
I must confess. I have procrastinated reviewing Delivered from the Elements of the World. It’s not because it is a dull book; far from it. Rather, more than anything I’ve yet reviewed, I am daunted at the prospect of doing justice to this book’s vastness and creativity. Peter Leithart is known to be a singular, provocative and eloquent thinker, and Delivered from the Elements of the World is surely his magnum opus.
In my own lifetime I have seen the technology of the internet advance in leaps and bounds. I remember the dial-up sound. I remember the first mp3 that I downloaded, thinking that a 2-3 megabyte file was large and wondering why I would even want a song on my computer. I remember when streaming videos were only watchable for those with particularly powerful internet connections. If possible, downloading (and waiting hours!) was the better option. How far we have come! Today, there is a proliferation of good (not to mention terrible…) content at one’s fingertips and even in one’s pocket.
Joshua Jipp’s Christ is King has garnered much discussion and rightfully so: he argues against a common dismissal of Christ as being a royal title, by comparing ancient royal discourse (Jewish and Greco-Roman) to the writings of Paul. Along the way, he also presents some unique exegetical insights. In this post I want to present one of these insights that potentially unravels a very knotty problem: to what does Paul refer when he speaks of “The Law of Christ” (Gal 6:2; 1 Cor 9:22)?
Commentary writing can be a bit of a mystery, and with Doug Moo’s highly anticipated Galatians (BECNT) commentary being released in just over a month I thought I’d ask Moo a little about how it’s done.