Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Abstract of Thesis for Essay

For longer than I wish and due to extraneous impositions upon my time, quite beyond my own control, I have been working on an essay for The Faith of Jesus Christ: Exegetical, Biblical, and Theological Studies (see here and here). Now, as I progress toward completion of the essay, below is an abstract of my working thesis. Find within my thesis aspects that resonate with the NPP and against the NPP but with the traditional understanding of Paul's theology. Observe that my thesis makes it rather clear that any proper discussion of ἡ πίστις Χριστοῦ cannot take place isolated from its juxtaposition with ἔργα νόμου/ὁ νόμος.
In the three letters where Paul places ἡ πίστις Χριστοῦ antithetically to ἔργα νόμου/ὁ νόμος, his antithesis features Christ Jesus over against the law of Moses, which he portrays in a servant role to Christ, as preparatory for Christ who has now come. Thus, the law yields jurisdiction to Christ over all who believe in him. Each context that includes ἡ πίστις Χριστοῦ contrasts affiliation with Christ as saving and affiliation with the law as ruinous. Justification of Jews and Gentiles together, without discrimination, stands prominently in each of the contexts. Each passage features the erasure of distinctions between Jews and Gentiles in Christ Jesus. The seed who trace their descent from Abraham through the law and circumcision in the flesh hold no claim on God’s promise. Instead, theirs is the curse of the law; through Christ alone the blessing of Abraham comes. God’s promise is for the seed who trace their descent through Christ Jesus to Abraham.

Briefly stated, Paul’s antithetical placement of ἡ πίστις Χριστοῦ with ἔργα νόμου/ὁ νόμος placards the trustworthiness of Christ Jesus who accomplishes what the law could not. The law requires deeds; Christ elicits trust. Life is not within law’s power to give; life comes through death to the law, which is by being crucified with Christ. The law condemns; Jesus justifies. The law curses; Christ blesses. The law discriminates Jews from Gentiles; Jesus Christ renders Gentiles and Jews one without distinction. The law imprisons under sin; Christ gives freedom. The law exacerbates transgressions; Christ gives life and righteousness. The law held sway during the time of non-age; Christ now establishes full sonship. The law prepared for Christ; Christ ends the law by subjecting himself to the law’s curse on our behalf. The law foreshadows Messiah who was to come; Christ Jesus renders the law passé, casting the law into the shadows, for it was appropriate only for the time before his advent but malapropos now that Messiah has come.

5 comments:

jgb said...

Wow. What a line-up. I am really looking forward to this.

Matthew D. Montonini said...

Ardel,

Good stuff! Would you email@ mdmontonini@gmail.com ?

Michael F. Bird said...

Ardel,
Sounds great, I look forward to reading the final product which (as your editor I have to tell you) is due in about 8 days!

A. B. Caneday said...

Michael,

Eight days! Ouch! I'm too keenly aware of it. Too many words, too much to say, too few words allowed, too little time. . . .

A. B. Caneday said...

Matt,

I sent you a note to your gmail.com address.