Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"The [New Perspective] view of the first-century Jew...."

Some time back, I read Piper's The Future of Justification, on N. T. Wright's revisioning of the Gospel, Justification, and All That

Early in the book, Piper established some excellent points of caution. Given our several laments (here and at Pyro) over the increasing meaninglessness of a particular term, I thought this worth excerpting and emphasizing:
A second reason why an external first-century idea may distort or silence what the New Testament teaches is that while it may accurately reflect certain first-century documents, nevertheless it may reflect only one among many first-century views. Whether a New Testament writer embraced the particular way of thinking that a scholar has found in the first century is not obvious from the mere existence of that way of thinking.

As an analogy, one may only think about all that flies under the banner “evangelical” in our own day—and hope that no historian in a thousand years will assign any of those meanings to us simply because we bore that label. Therefore, one must be cautious in saying on the basis of one’s interpretation of extra-biblical texts that this is “how first-century Jews understood the world.” Sweeping statements about worldviews in first-century Judaism are precarious (pp. 35-36)
My, that sparks some scary thoughts. Like....
The writer who used the name "Dan Phillips" identified himself as an "evangelical." Research has now revealed that the twenty-first century "evangelical" believed that the Gospel guaranteed health and prosperity, that walking with God necessarily involved a sporadic flow of low-octane semi-revelation, that truth was in the eye of the beholder, that God did not completely know the future nor control the present, that the notion of penal, substitutionary atonement was a form of "cosmic child-abuse," that Mormons and Roman Catholics were Christian brothers, that abortion was a peripheral issue, that knowledge of actual Biblical teachings was optional, that Adam might be a mythical figure like Paul Bunyan,  and that engagement with the culture was more important than pursuit of the eternal. This gives a completely New Perspective on Phillips' writings. For instance, in spite of first-impressions, what he really believed was.....
AIIEEEEEEEE!


13 comments:

NoLongerBlind said...

You know, that last cartoon does bear a striking resemblance, minus the goatee, of course.

Steve Lamm said...

Dan,

Speaking of Wright, did you see the panel discussion on Wright's view of the atonments by some of the faculty of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary? It was moderated by Dr. Mohler.

My son Dan is a student at SBTS and we watched it a couople of nights ago. Quite interesting.

You can find it here:

http://www.sbts.edu/resources/chapel/chapel-fall-2009/panel-nt-wright-and-the-doctrine-of-justification-2/.

I share Piper's concern about making judgments on the thinking of the Biblical writers based on extra-biblical sources of any kind. After all, we have their thoughts recorded in the Scriptures!

Blessings,
Steve Lamm

Rachael Starke said...

Oh my goodness.

I was literally leaning on my kitchen counter laughing hysterically over that mental picture. You could make up your own personal "Twilight Zone" script over that one.

That's an awesome analogy, with possibly a plethora of applications...

Boy, between this and the Pyro post, soembody needs to give you a raise or something...

trogdor said...

It never made sense to me to attribute to Paul the beliefs of those who were constantly trying to have him killed for his beliefs.

James Kime said...

What I don't understand about Wright, is that even if some of the pharisees did teach what he says, they didn't all teach what he says. There was not a single pharisee viewpoint. That can be seen even in the NT.

Throughout the NT, the apostles were clearly concerned with the judaizing types. Paul wasn't concerned with the global warming pharisees, the universal healthcare pharisees, or the sword-control pharisees.

Congrats to NT Wright for making irrelevance cool.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Trogdor: "It never made sense to me to attribute to Paul the beliefs of those who were constantly trying to have him killed for his beliefs."

Me neither.

But somehow laughter, lampooning, and logic do not seem to deter the NT Wright and NPP defenders.

DJP said...

That is classic Trogdor. Very well-put.

lee n. field said...

"involved a sporadic flow of low-octane semi-revelation, "

< snort!> I will have to find a use for that phrase.

DJP said...

Lee, then perhaps you'd enjoy revisiting this extended, full-out fisking rant employing numerous similar descriptives.

Susan said...

From Dan's post: For instance, in spite of first-impressions, what he really believes was.....

...that Christianity was nothing more than a mushroom cult, and Jesus is a "personification of the sacred fungus"!!

Stefan said...

Taking a cue from Trogdor's comment...

There's something axiomatic about this, isn't there?

If the generally accepted hermeneutic in New Testament times was the Apostolic hermeneutic, then everyone would have affirmed en masse that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Applying a non-Apostolic hermeneutic to the Old Testament kind of self-negates the whole exercise....

trogdor said...

Somehow the beliefs of his Jewish opponents have been transferred to Paul, like a magical gas floating across a courtroom.

DJP said...

Trogdor: don't ever leave.