Skip to content

Book: Paul and the Vocation of Israel

Windsor, Lionel J. Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul’s Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to RomansBeihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 205. Berlin / Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2014.

Publication details and purchasing information: Walter de Gruyter.

Description

The Apostle Paul was the greatest early missionary of the Christian gospel. He was also, by his own admission, an Israelite. How can both these realities coexist in one individual? This book argues that Paul viewed his mission to the Gentiles, in and of itself, as the primary expression of his Jewish identity. The concept of Israel’s divine vocation is used to shed fresh light on a number of much-debated passages in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

The series BZNW

The series Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft (BZNW) is one of the oldest and most highly regarded international scholarly book series in the field of New Testament studies. Since 1923 it has been a forum for seminal works focusing on Early Christianity and related fields. The series is grounded in a historical-critical approach and also explores new methodological approaches that advance our understanding of the New Testament and its world.

Series editors: James D. G. Dunn, Carl R. Holladay, Matthias Konradt, Hermann Lichtenberger, Jens Schröter and Gregory E. Sterling.

Contents

1. Introduction – 1

1.1 Paul’s Jewish identity – 3
1.2 The vocational dimension of Jewish identity – 9
1.3 Romans: An exercise in Jewish vocation – 15
1.4 Preview of the argument – 19

2. Review of literature – 22

2.1 Paul’s apostolic mission and Israel’s vocation – 22
2.1.1 “Patterns of religion” approaches – 22
2.1.2 Albert Schweitzer – 25
2.1.3 Johannes Munck – 26
2.1.4 Krister Stendahl – 27
2.1.5 Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr – 28
2.1.6 Stanley Stowers – 29
2.1.7 James Dunn – 31
2.1.8 N. T. Wright – 32
2.1.9 Terence Donaldson – 35
2.2 Related issues – 36
2.2.1 The relationship between Jewish identity and Christ-believing identity – 36
2.2.2 The debate over Jewish “mission” – 40
2.2 Summary – 43

3. Paul’s language of Jewish identity – 44

3.1 Jewish distinctiveness – 45
3.1.1 “Jew” and “circumcision”: Terms of Jewish distinctiveness – 45
3.1.2 Common objections to the notion of Jewish distinctiveness in Paul – 47
3.1.2.1 Gentiles as the “seed of Abraham”? – 48
3.1.2.2 An inclusive use of “Israel” in Rom 9–11? – 48
3.1.2.3 Paul’s definition of “Israel” in terms of God’s “call” (Rom 9:6b–13) – 49
3.1.2.4 The metaphor of the olive tree (Rom 11:17–24) – 51
3.1.2.5 “We are the circumcision” (Phil 3:3) – 53
3.1.2.6 The “Israel of God” (Gal 6:16) – 55
3.1.2.7 Christians as “spiritual” Jews? (Rom 2:28–29) – 61
3.1.3 An ethnic distinctiveness – 61
3.1.4 A theological distinctiveness – 64
3.2 Jewish identity and divine revelation – 67
3.2.1 Jewish identity and the Law of Moses – 68
3.2.2 “Israelites” and divine revelation – 73
3.2.3 “Hebrews” and divine revelation – 76
3.3 Jewish identity and divine vocation – 78
3.3.1 The Law of Moses: A basis for Jewish vocation – 78
3.3.2 Abraham’s fatherhood / seed: A paradigm for Jewish vocation – 82
3.3.2.1 In Paul’s letters – 82
3.3.2.2 In Paul’s Jewish context – 84
3.3.3 “Judaism” / “zeal”: Paul’s former expression of Jewish vocation – 89
3.3.4 Paul’s opposition to alternative expressions of Jewish vocation – 93
3.4 Summary: Paul’s language of Jewish identity – 94

4. The Jewishness of Paul’s vocation (Romans 1:1–15 & 15:14–33) – 96

4.1 Paul and the Isaianic Servant – 99
4.1.1 Paul’s identification with the Isaianic Servant: Evidence – 100
4.1.2 Paul’s identification with the Isaianic Servant: Common objections – 104
4.1.2.1 Δοῦλος: A term of humility? – 104
4.1.2.2 Δοῦλος: A common term for believers? – 107
4.1.2.3 Δοῦλος: An economic or political allusion? – 109
4.1.3 Paul’s identification with the Isaianic Servant: Significance – 111
4.2 Paul and Israel’s priesthood – 112
4.2.1 Paul’s consecration – 112
4.2.2 Paul’s priestly ministry – 114
4.3 Paul and contemporary expressions of Jewish vocation – 119
4.3.1 “Proselytism”? – 121
4.3.2 Accommodation? – 126
4.3.3 Apologetics? – 127
4.3.4 Israel as a global priesthood? – 129
4.3.5 Eschatological expectations – 130
4.3.6 Apparent anomalies – 135
4.4 Summary: Paul’s fulfilment of Israel’s eschatological vocation – 137

5. Paul’s contest over Jewish identity (Romans 2:17–29) – 140

5.1 Romans 2:17–29 as an argument about Jewish identity – 140
5.1.1 The discrete function of Rom 2:17–29 within the argument of Romans – 144
5.1.2 The social context of Rom 2:17–29: the Jewish synagogue – 147
5.1.3 The unity of Rom 2:17–29 – 151
5.2 Jewish identity and the Law (Romans 2:17–20) – 152
5.2.1 The Law and Jewish privilege (Rom 2:17–18) – 153
5.2.2 The Law and Jewish vocation (Rom 2:19–20) – 156
5.2.2.1 Jewish Law and the teaching of Gentiles – 156
5.2.2.2 The identity of Paul’s interlocutor – 161
5.3 Jewish identity deconstructed (Romans 2:21–27) – 163
5.3.1 The failure of Law-teaching (Rom 2:21–24) – 163
5.3.1.1 Jewish transgression of the Law (vv. 21–22) – 164
5.3.1.2 The failure of Jewish vocation to the nations (vv. 23–24) – 168
5.3.2 The failure of circumcision (Rom 2:25–27) – 170
5.3.2.1 A commonly held truth (v. 25) – 174
5.3.2.2 A contested issue (v. 26) – 176
5.3.2.3 The radical consequences (v. 27) – 180
5.4 Jewish identity redefined (Romans 2:28–29) – 181
5.4.1 Jewish identity: Not in the mainstream synagogue – 184
5.4.2 Jewish identity: Within the Christ-believing community – 185
5.4.3 Jewish honour: Not from people, but from God – 189
5.5 Summary: Paul’s contest over Jewish identity – 191

6. Paul’s fulfilment of Israel’s vocation (Romans 9–11) – 195

6.1 Paul’s vocation: The framework for Romans 9–11 – 195
6.1.1 The prominence of Paul’s persona in Rom 9–11 – 196
6.1.2 Tensions concerning Israel’s vocation in Rom 9–11 – 198
6.1.3 Paul’s first-person resolution of these tensions – 200
6.2 Paul and Israel: Conflicting vocations (Romans 9:1–5) – 202
6.2.1 The apostolic identification with Israel (Rom 9:1–3) – 203
6.2.2 Israel’s purpose in light of the apostolic vocation (Rom 9:4–5) – 206
6.3 Paul and Israel: Competing vocations (Romans 10) – 210
6.3.1 Israel’s failed vocation (Rom 10:1–4) – 212
6.3.2 The apostolic preaching vocation (Rom 10:5–13) – 216
6.3.3 The apostolic fulfilment of Israel’s vocation (Rom 10:14–18) – 220
6.3.4 The ongoing failure of Israel’s vocation (Rom 10:19–21) – 228
6.4 Paul and Israel: Converging vocations (Romans 11) – 230
6.4.1 The apostle as the paradigmatic Israelite (Rom 11:1–2a) – 231
6.4.1.1 The inadequacy of alternative proposals – 232
6.4.1.2 Paul’s self-description and Israel’s vocation – 235
6.4.2 The apostle against Israel (Rom 11:2b–10) – 239
6.4.3 The apostle and Israel: Complementary vocations (Rom 11:11–14) – 240
6.4.4 The apostle and Israel: Corresponding vocations (Rom 11:15–16) – 244
6.4.5 The apostle’s vocation and Israel’s salvation – 244
6.5 Summary: Paul’s fulfilment of Israel’s vocation in Romans 9–11 – 246

7. Conclusions – 248

7.1 Summary of the argument – 249
7.2 Implications for further study – 252

Publication background

The book is a revised version of Lionel Windsor’s PhD thesis, completed at Durham University in 2012. Supervisor: Francis Watson. Examiners: John Barclay and William S. Campbell.

Availability

The book is available to purchase in hardback from the publisher, Walter de Gruyter.

Published inPaulRomans

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

All posts

Recent blog posts

  • Photo by Ruben Bagues on UnsplashLiving light (Ephesians 5:11–14)
    How should Christians relate to the world around us? Should we withdraw, or should we engage? How do we know which action to do when?
  • Photo by Ben Mullins on UnsplashThe test that matters (Ephesians 5:10)
    We live in a world full of tests and measurements. Believers in Christ should also test our lives. But when we do, we need to use the right standard.
  • Photo by Eric Patnoudes on UnsplashChildren of light (Ephesians 5:8–9)
    Believers in Christ have had their very identity changed: once darkness like the world, but now light. The challenge is to believe it, and to live it.
  • Dark tunnel coming out of the Amphitheatre, PompeiiWhat do you want to become? (Ephesians 5:5–7)
    Our dreams drive our daily actions. In 5, 10, 20 years, what will you have become? Living in grace as an imitator of God, or a partner with the world?
  • Photo by Jordan Beltran on UnsplashHoly talk (Ephesians 5:3–4)
    Often we try to fit in with others by the way we speak. But God calls believers to be holy, not filthy, in our speech, even if it sounds strange to others.
  • Holding child's handImitators of God (Ephesians 5:1–2)
    Christians are God’s dearly loved children, raised from death to life and secure with him, now and forever. This is what gives us the power to sacrifice.
  • Preaching sermons and shepherding the flock: What’s the connection?
    Lionel Windsor | 2 Feb 2015 | Priscilla and Aquila Conference | Moore College, Sydney I’m here republishing my 2015 paper, which originally appeared as a PDF and video. See here for more on the
  • Photo: NASA/ISS CrewThe Amazon Fires: A Gospel Response
    Unprecedented numbers of fires are now burning in the Amazon rainforest. How can the gospel of Jesus Christ be brought to bear on the situation?
  • Photo by Xan Griffin on UnsplashThe Victory of the Cross
    According to the Bible, Jesus’ death on the cross is God’s victory and triumph—a victory and triumph Christ shares with all who trust in him... (Audio)
  • Photo by Lina Trochez on UnsplashThe power of forgiveness (Ephesians 4:31–32)
    Believers are to forgive, as God has forgiven us. Forgiveness is not only possible for believers, it’s also powerful for our lives and relationships.

On this site

All content copyright Lionel Windsor