Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 8:2 (Summer 2004) p. 92
Where is Boasting? Early Jewish Soteriology and Paul’s Response in Romans 1–5. By Simon J. Gathercole. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, xii + 311 pp., $32.00 paper.
Critical responses to the view of Judaism and Paul propounded by E. P. Sanders in Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977) continue to be published. The recent volume, Justifcation and Variegated Nomism (2001), has suggested an adjustment of Sanders’s view, though some of the contributors continue to endorse the view proposed by Sanders. Friedrich Avemarie has recently maintained that rabbinic literature contains an uneasy tension between the emphasis on covenant and obeying the Torah. In some instances covenant and election are prominent for obtaining life, but in others the focus is on obeying the Torah to gain life. Hence, Sanders overemphasizes the covenant in his own analysis of Judaism. Mark Elliott argues that Judaism during the Second Temple period did not envision salvation for all Israel but only for the faithful remnant that observed the Torah. Sharp criticisms of the new perspective on Paul, which, of course, represents a diversity of perspectives and cannot be confined to Sanders’s view, have recently been written by Andrew Das and Seyoon Kim. This new work by Simon Gathercole continues this trend. The book represents a revision of a thesis written under James Dunn, which is interesting in itself since Dunn is famous as an advocate of the new perspective. In the first section of the book Gathercole re-examines Jewish literature that can be dated before A.D. 70, and introduces later literature as confirming evidence. The thesis Gathercole advances supports the work of Avemarie but establishes it from earlier Jewish evidence. He maintains that Jewish soteriology before A.D. 70 maintained that final salvation depended on divine election (the covenant) and obedience to Torah. Paul, on the other hand, in Romans 2–4 insists that justification cannot be gained by obeying Torah.
Part one, which is really the bulk of the book, examines the role of obedience in final vindication in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Qumran literature, Jewish soteriology in the New Testament, and writings composed after A.D. 70, including 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, Josephus, the Rabbis, and the Targums. Gathercole acknowledges that not all of the literature yields the same conclusion. Sirach, Tobit, 1 Maccabees, and Jubilees, for instance, do not betray any great interest in the life to come and yet they often draw a connection between obedience and reward in this life. Most of the writings, on the other hand, from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha teach that life in the ...
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