Have you heard about New Perspective on Paul or NPP? I haven’t until about half a year ago, when one of my friends brought the subject up. Since then I spent considerable amount of time trying to understand the issue and still cannot claim I am there.
If you are like me, you might find a series of posts (part 1,2,3) by Matt Harmon very useful. His is probably the best summary I’ve seen (and I’ve seen many). I believe he plans more posts, so keep watching.
Wondering where I stand? Well, I have not made up my mind yet. I do think it is an important issue. It does pose danger to traditional understanding of justification by faith. Should we utterly reject it as nonsense? I can’t; too many very established scholars support it. And as D.A. Carson, an expert in the subject, pointed out during recent talks I attended, “Not everything in the New Perspective on Paul is wrong”. I agree with many that in trying to correct some mistakes of the “traditional” doctrine NPP probably went too far in the other direction. Yet, it does contains some truth.
I am quite excited that we are starting on book of Romans next month with our bible study group. Romans is central to the doctrine of justification by faith and NPP scholars tried hard to re-interpret it in the light of their findings. So it will be a great opportunity for me to learn about NPP, as in addition to 4-5 traditional commentaries on the book I also own a Word Biblical Commentary volume written by James Dunn, a well-known NPP theologian. Watch this space.