Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BETS 9:4 (Fall 1966) p. 199
Paul Apostle of Liberty. By Richard N. Longenecker. New York: Harper and Row, 1964. Pp. x, 310. $4.50. Reviewed by George Eldon Ladd, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.
Both the glory and the scandal of revelation rest in the fact that God has revealed himself in and through historical events and processes. That Paul received his Gospel by supernatural revelation (Gal. 1:12) does not mean that all of his theological ideas came to him supernaturally. As a matter of fact, much of “Pauline theology” must have been already in the mind of the learned Jewish Rabbi, Saul. Longenecker’s outstanding and learned study maintains that most of the Pauline thought about the Law is not a Christian creation but represents the thought of Saul, the Jewish theologian. Saul was not a legalistic Pharisee, but a “nomist” who understood obedience to the Law as man’s reaction to the redemptive acts of God. Fidelity to the Law was not an end in itself but was based upon and motivated by faith and trust. The distinctive Christian element is the Pauline teaching that Christ has fulfilled the Law and thus brought it to an end as a basis for righteousness (although not as the expression of the will of Cod). Freed from the Law, the believer experiences liberty as the Mind of Christ though the indwelling Spirit enables him to fulfill the Law of Christ. The Law of Christ is not the fundamental ethic of love, but the total tradition of the teachings and person of Jesus.
Unfortunately, space does not permit critical interaction; and there is much here to be debated. Of particular interest to members of ETS will be the interaction between belief in inerrancy and historical interpretation. Longenecker never mentions inspiration or infallibility but writes as a historian. His discussion of “Kicking against the Goads” (Acts 26:14) will doubtless make some Evangelicals unhappy. The words in question are a common catch phrase in the Greek world known to Paul which he uses to “make explicit to Agrippa what was implicit in the words, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’” (p. 100). While Paul was not “prevaricating for Cod’s glory,” neither was he a “pedantic literalist. Words are tools to convey meaning, not just gems to be treasured. His task is to transmit and interpret the revelation he has received, in both its explicit form and its implications” (p. 101).
The book contains much illustrative material from Judaism, Philo, and Qumran; it is splendidly documented and interacts constantly with critical views of other scholars. It is a delight to welcome a competent historical and critical study by a thoroughly evangelical scholar.
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