The New Perspective on Paul: Its Basic Tenets, History and Presuppositions

F. David Farnell | May 19, 2010

Recent decades have witnessed a change in views of Pauline theology. A growing number of evangelicals have endorsed a view called the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) which significantly departs from the Reformation emphasis on justification by faith alone. The NPP has followed in the path of historical criticism’s rejection of an orthodox view of biblical inspiration, and has adopted an existential view of biblical interpretation. The best-known spokesmen for the NPP are E. P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, and N. T. Wright. With only slight differences in their defenses of the NPP, all three have adopted “covenantal nomism,” which essentially gives a role in salvation to works of the law of Moses. A survey of historical elements leading up to the NPP isolates several influences: Jewish opposition to the Jesus of the Gospels and Pauline literature, Luther’s alleged antisemitism, and historical-criticism. The NPP is not actually new; it is simply a simultaneous convergence of a number of old aberrations in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Vol. 16, no. 2 (Fall 2005)

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Farnell, F. David. "The New Perspective on Paul: Its Basic Tenets, History and Presuppositions." The Master's Seminary Journal 16, no. 2 (Fall 2005): 189-243.