Hermeneutics of the New Perspective on Paul

Robert L. Thomas | May 9, 2018

(Originally published Fall 2005)

Recent changes in evangelical hermeneutical principles have opened a wide door for new-perspective (NP) proposals on Pauline literature and more basically NP proposals about second-temple Judaism. Setting aside the time-honored ideal of objectivity, the proposals have raised questions about longstanding views of Augustine and Luther and of the nature of first-century Judaism. E. P. Sanders has been a major figure in raising these questions. The questions arise in part through an allegorical versus a literal handling of God’s OT covenants with Israel, i.e., through devising a system known as “covenantal nomism.” The NP system also seeks support through a neglect of the established principle of single versus multiple meanings for a given passage and through disregarding the importance of immediate context in interpretation. The NP builds on an erroneous base of wrong-headed conclusions about first-century Judaism and commits multiple hermeneutical errors in its approach to Pauline literature.

Vol. 29, no. 1 (Spring 2018)

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Thomas, Robert L.. "Hermeneutics of the New Perspective on Paul." The Master's Seminary Journal 29, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 21–43.