Paul’s View of the Law in Romans 7: An Engagement with E. P. Sanders

Br. Usman Sheikh has recently published a fantastic research paper on Paul’s view of the law in Romans 7, he analyses Paul’s attitude towards the law with respect to his soteriological outlook while contrasting these views with that of E.P Sanders’ analysis of them. It is a refreshing read that provides a powerful conclusion for those serious about Biblical studies.

The paper can also be read on Academia.edu (I recommend following Br. Usman Sheikh) or downloaded by clicking here.

Advertisements


Categories: Bible, Biblical scholarship, Christianity, Judaism, Scholarship

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. As Muslims we know that adherence to the divine law (shariah) guides us on the straight path, but that salvation is ultimately by the mercy of God. This may have been what Paul was really trying to argue in his vague and complicated way. Although he was incorrect in placing the arbitration of salvation on Jesus rather than God himself (even more so when we understand that Paul himself was not a Trinitarian).

    However, I think that Paul had no other choice than to write against the Law because there was a definitely a soteriological aspect to it in Judaism, which would have negated his faith based redemptive theology. As long as he promoted the idea that one is saved through “faith in Jesus” alone, then he was forced to deny all other forms of salvation, including salvation through the Law.

    He backed himself into a corner, and as the article concludes, damage control was not easy in the ancient world.

    I think that the worst thing to happen to Christianity was Paul and his theology. His writings and arguments (which were never meant by him to be considered as holy scripture) are clearly uninspired, illogical, incorrect, inconsistent, un-cohesive, and incompatible with a pure Abrahamic faith based in divine law and absolute monotheism.

    The un-clear, incoherent writings and false conclusions of Paul have caused confusion for generations upon generations of Christians even until today.

    Alhamdullilah, for the clear guidance of the Holy Qur’an and for the coherent theology we have in Islam!

    Like

  2. ” But if faith in Jesus leads to salvation, then why was the law
    given in the first place? What was its purpose? In light of his new understanding about
    Jesus, Paul has constructed a problem: explaining the law and its purpose in relation
    to the only way to attain salvation is faith in Jesus. ”

    He starts off with a strawman myth that Muslims like to propogate.

    Like

    • {{” But if faith in Jesus leads to salvation, then why was the law
      given in the first place? What was its purpose? In light of his new understanding about
      Jesus, Paul has constructed a problem: explaining the law and its purpose in relation
      to the only way to attain salvation is faith in Jesus. ”
      He starts off with a strawman myth that Muslims like to propogate.}}

      In this case, Sanders must be a closet Muslim – from 1977 at least – as he was propagating this “strawman myth”:

      “Paul’s logic seems to run like this: in Christ God has acted to save the world; therefore the world is in need of salvation; but God also gave the law; if Christ is given for salvation, it must follow that the law could not have been; is the law then against the purpose of God which has been revealed in Christ? No, it has the function of consigning everyone to sin so that everyone could be saved by God’s grace in Christ. It seems to me completely impossible to make the argument run the other way …” E. P. Sanders, Paul And Palestinian Judaism, p. 475.

      That the law is pitted against salvation through faith in Jesus by Paul is not widely disputed among Pauline specialists – who must also be closet Muslims. The disagreements are over matters of details and in understanding Paul’s arguments in different places (though his conclusions seem clear).

      Rosner: “… it is clear that for Paul if salvation is through Christ crucified, salvation cannot come through Torah …” Brian S. Rosner, Paul and the Law, p. 115. (Therefore, the latter needs to be explained)

      Like

  3. Christianity never abolished the obligation of every human being to keep the law. It is part of being made in the image of God.

    Certainly Paul did not teach this.

    Like

  4. “That the law is pitted against salvation through faith in Jesus by Paul is not widely disputed among Pauline specialists – who must also be closet Muslims. The disagreements are over matters of details and in understanding Paul’s arguments in different places (though his conclusions seem clear). ”

    But conformitý to the law is the foundation of the righteousness which Christ attained. There has to be a law for Christ to keep in order to attain a perfect righteousness which he then imputes to us by faith.

    The law also provides a pattern to which we are being gradually conformed in our sanctification.

    In the light of this your claim that the law is pitted against salvation through faith is plainly seen to be absurd.

    Like

    • How in the world did Jesus attain “a perfect righteousness” by “conformity to the law”? Did he keep EVERY aspect of the law? Did Jesus perfectly follow all 613 commandments?

      Like

    • {{In the light of this your claim that the law is pitted against salvation through faith is plainly seen to be absurd.}}

      The simple point which has somehow completely escaped you is that the above (i.e. law pitted against salvation through belief in Jesus) is *E. P. Sanders’* stance. The section from which you copied a sentence from my paper was in your initial reaction simply contained a summary of *Sanders’* take on the matter. Therefore, the comment about “a strawman myth that Muslims like to propogate” was clearly nonsense (unless, of course, you seriously believe that many Pauline specialists are secret Muslims, perhaps like Obama).

      As for your idiocyncratic take, which I readily confess not to understand, it is quite possible that you’re right and many scholars – ranging from Sanders to even those who adopt a revised traditional take on Paul (e.g. Rosner) – are wrong. That’s absolutely possible. But one needs to look at the arguments and then reach a conclusion. I personally think that Sanders is probably right in his broad outline, though I am unsure regarding various details in his arguments (some of which I highlighted in the final section – **which represents my personal take on the matter** – not set in stone for sure).

      I’m happy to look at other viewpoints, perhaps a clear elucidation of the one you’re attempting to put forward with supporting arguments, and may well change my opinion if I find it to be convincing.

      Like

Please leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: