For the past ten years I was sympathetic to, if not openly defending, the New Perspective on Paul as an alternative reading to Luther and Calvin on Galatians and Romans. I have since rejected this view for the following reasons:
- As E. P. Sanders’ own work makes clear (in conjunction with some bloggers at C2C) held to the “merit of the fathers” idea. This is hard-core semi-Pelagianism. If so, then the anti-semi pelagian reading of Romans and Galatians is closer to the mark.
- The argument that “works of the law” = “ethnic boundary markers” is interesting. If that is true, though, then how can Paul’s preaching of justification be construed as antinominianism, of which he was clearly charged? Very few people will infer licentious immorality from the proposition “you can eat shrimp now.”
- While I like N.T. Wright’s reading that Jesus was the end of Israel’s exile, this makes sense only within Israel. As the apostles moved outside the Levant, this message moves to the background.