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Paul and the Law
Keeping the commandments of God
by Brian S Rosner
Publisher:IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
"For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God" (1 Cor. 7.19). This single quotation from Paul neatly summarises the challenge that Brian Rosner seeks to address in his readable, engaging and original exploration of Paul's relationship with the Law. It is a monumental task and one that Rosner neatly completes in 249 pages. After all, as Rosner cites "some doubt whether Paul himself knew what he was writing about".
The search for consistency in Paul has occupied many a theologian's academic career; arguments continue to rage, of course, as to which letters are of Paul and which are Pauline. Some solve this predicament by focusing only on Romans and Galatians, an approach Rosner firmly rejects.
Instead Rosner seeks a hermeneutical solution in a study that extends across 9 of the 13 books that comprise the corpus of Paul. He identifies a three-stage process that is evident - to different degrees - in all of Paul's letters (setting aside the very short epistles). Rosner argues that with consistency Paul repudiates, replaces and reappropriates (as prophecy or wisdom) the law. These "signature steps" are clearly evident and provide the basis for discerning a unity in Paul's writing that otherwise can easily elude us.
The excellence of Paul and the Law extends beyond the readable text to the clarity of Rosner's tabular presentation of his arguments and comprehensive indexes.
Reviewer: David Ford (31/10/13)