Here’s the link to Michael’s paper: “Salvation in Paul’s Judaism?” by Michael Bird. I really enjoyed Bird’s paper, especially his summary of the popular options scholars are currently using as they discuss the Judaism of Paul’s day. The latter half of Bird’s paper was a stimulating expression of biblical-theology on Paul’s soteriology. I was so helped by Bird’s summary of the different views on how Paul fit into his Jewish context that I wanted to pass it along to you in a shorter form;

Paul and Jewish Legalism:Paul, in his post-conversion period, rallied against Judaism which in the post-exilic period had degenerated into a form of legalism, merit-theology, and synergism.” 

Paul and Diaspora Judaism: Paul did not experience true Judaism, rather, he knew only its Hellenistic counter-part which was impoverished when compared to the Talmudic Judaism of Palestine.

Paul’s Misrepresentation of Judaism: Paul’s view of Judaism was jaundiced and skewed as he was unfair in his description of it.

Paul and Covenantal Nomism:Paul’s problem with the Torah was that it had simply been superseded by Christ and Paul himself reasoned from Christ’s Lordship to the human problem; that is, from solution (Christ) to plight (Law).” 

Paul and Ethnocentric Judaism: Paul never changed the mode of salvation in Judaism, he never doubted the efficacy of Israel’s election, nor did he criticize Israel for anything other than rejecting the notion that the good news had come to Gentiles.”

Paul and intra-Judaistic Debates:Paul’s remarks about Torah, Gentiles, and Israel are part of intra-Jewish debates and not anti-Judaistic discourses.

This is just a taste of what you get in Michael Bird’s latest article. Do yourself a favor and carve out some time, print it out, and reflect upon it. Bird is one of the most level headed New Testament scholars I read. I heartily recommend his latest article to you.

(Photographic art by Marcelgermain, piece entitled “Zigzag“)