Saturday, January 19, 2008

Latest essay written

I have written an essay, "The Faithfulness of Jesus Christ as a Theme in Paul's Letter to the Galatians" for The Faith of Jesus Christ: Exegetical, Biblical, and Theological Studies, edited by Michael F. Bird and Preston M. Sprinkle (U.K. Paternoster). My essay analyzes Paul's theme of Christ's faithfulness within his theological argument in his Letter to the Galatians as representative of Paul's theology throughout his letters but especially in Romans and Philippians where we encounter Paul's expression again (πίστις Χριστοῦ). I argue that Paul's antipodal juxtaposition of "works of the law" (ἔργα νόμου) and "Christ's faithfulness" (πίστις Χριστοῦ) depict a contrast between two distinct covenants, one bounded by law the other bounded by Christ. The source of this polarity is Scripture's narrative concerning Israel, who incurred the curse of the law for unfaithfulness to the covenant. Thus, all who are of the "works of the law" are under Torah's curse with unfaithful Israel. In contrast, Christ's faithfulness through his curse-bearing death serves to redeem others from Torah's curse. The coming of ἡ πίστις is the coming of Christ's faithfulness to reverse the curse of the law, redeeming his people from Torah's curse by fulfilling and ending the law's covenant jurisdiction governing relationship with God.

3 comments:

Nicholas P. Mitchell said...

Ardel,

In my second year Greek class I have to do an exegetical paper (my first one ever) on a passage in Galatians. I am thinking about doing mine on Gal. 2:15-21. Right now I am reading through Wright's little Paul for Everyone book. I think, so far, it is quite good. This will be my second time reading through it. Do you find many of Wright's points persuasive in this book? Where do you think Wright goes wrong in Galatians? Is his reading of the whole book 'tainted'?

Can you suggest any other necessary resources I will need? I know my teacher reads the phrase faith in Christ whereas I lean more towards faithfulness of Christ.

A. B. Caneday said...

Nick,

I believe that his little commentary reflects his development of theology in Galatians in some of his essays. For example, I think that N. T. Wright's essay on Gal 3:10 in The Climax of the Covenants is headed in the right direction. One crucial area where I think his essay could use a helpful nudge is his treatment of Israel in relation to Christ. I think that it would be helpful if he would see more clearly Israel's typological role foreshadowing Christ.

If he were to see Israel's typological role more clearly, I think that his exposition of Gal 3:13 would be better. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, I believe, is referring not to ethnic Israel, per se, nor even to ethnic believing Jews, per se, but to all who are in Christ, whether Jews or Gentiles by virtue of Christ's representative role replacing Israel who typologically represented all humanity in a reenactment of Adam's role in the same capacity. As Adam stood representatively for all humanity in his foreshadowing role of Christ, so Israel stood representatively for all humanity in his foreshadowing role of Christ. See my essay "'They Exchanged the Glory of God for the Likeness of an Image': Idolatrous Adam and Israel as Representatives in Paul's Letter to the Romans" Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (Fall 2007): 34-45.

I trust this makes sense and is understandable. If Wright were to view Israel in this way, I think that his whole discussion of Israel in Galatians and the whole exile motif would be made much clearer. Christ did not end the exile for Israelites who reject him. Israelites and their descendants who persist in rejecting Messiah Jesus remain under Torah's curse as they revere Torah and spurn Christ.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, which is to say that he has redeemed us who welcome him as the end of Torah, whether Jews or Gentiles. Thus, Messiah Jesus inaugurated the end of exile for all who welcome him. Hence, already we are freed from exile but not yet is our freedom from exile made perfect, for we continue as pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land which is the promised land but is not yet made our final inheritance but will be at the appointed time, when Messiah returns.

Nicholas P. Mitchell said...

Nice! Thanks.I'll be back!