Skip to content

RBL review of my Paul and the Vocation of Israel (review by Mike Bird)

Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul's Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to Romansreview of my Paul and the Vocation of Israel , written by Mike Bird at Ridley College Melbourne, has been published at the Review of Biblical Literature site. I’m grateful to Mike for his detailed interaction with my thesis, and his kinds comments. You need an SBL membership to read the full review, but here’s Mike’s conclusion:

In sum, Windsor has written an interesting thesis on Paul’s distinctively Jewish vocation to be an apostle to the gentiles. He demonstrates the cogency of a reading of the Old Testament whereby God’s purposes ran through Israel to the nations, whereby a transformed Israel would be God’s agent to transform the world. He offers a hybrid between N.T. Wright and John Barclay on the place of Israel’s story in Paul’s letters by setting out Paul’s appropriation of Israel’s missional vocation, albeit in a way that preserves Israel’s distinctive genosand without recasting it in an (anachronistically) Christanized form. There are some points of contention, such as his account of Paul vis-à-vis Jewish identity and the inferences he draws from some texts such as Gal 6:16 and Rom 10:5-8. On the whole, however, Windsor’s thesis warrants attention as a stimulating contribution to Pauline studies.

It’s worth mentioning Bird’s main points of contention, which concern my treatment of certain passages which are often taken to mean that Paul saw gentile Christ-believers as part of “Israel” or as “Jews” by faith in Christ (i.e., Rom 4:16; Rom 2:28–29; 9:6b–12; 11:17–24; 11:26; Phil 3:3; Gal 6:16). I understand these passages to be using the terms “Israel” and “Jew” in a vocational sense–that is, they are referring to ethnic Israel’s particular role in God’s worldwide purposes, or to particular ethnic Jews / Jewish teachers. Bird isn’t convinced of my “take” on these passages, especially in light of the general covenantal inclusion narrative and the emphasis on unity that he discerns in the Pauline texts. For example, Bird takes Galatians 3:28 as an explicit negation of ethnic identity in Christ, which means that he regards my exegesis of Galatians 6:16 — as a “rule” to discern the legitimacy of potential future Jewish teachers — intriguing, but unlikely. I would briefly reply that unity does not necessarily preclude any kind of significant distinction or diversity. So, I would say, it is not beyond the realms of possibility to understand these passages as affirming an ethnic or vocational distinction within an overarching soteriological unity (cf. Romans 3:1-2). This is especially true if (as I am seeking to demonstrate) the concept of a distinct vocation for Israel within God’s worldwide purposes is important to Paul. Ultimately, of course, the exegesis has to be assessed on its own merits, and I’m happy to leave it to my readers to do that.

In any case, I’m pleased that my book has been stimulating to at least one reviewer! I trust that the book helps readers to think hard about the writings the great apostle to the Gentiles, and to reflect on what his letters mean both for salvation and for ministry.

Read the full review here: Michael Bird, “Review of Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul’s Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to Romans“, RBL 2016/1.

 

Published inGeneralPaul

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

Recent blog posts

  • From temple to meat market in ancient Pompeii
    A very quick journey from the temple of Jupiter in Pompeii to the meat market. This helps us to understand 1 Corinthians 8-10 and probably also Romans 14.
  • TogetherThe formation of gentile Christ-believing identity vis-à-vis Israel in Ephesians and Barnabas
    Article in the journal Biblica et Patristica Thoruniensia. Keywords: Ephesians; Barnabas; Israel; replacement theology; collective memory; ethnic identity
  • Where they burn books…
    A reflection on “Bibliothek", the memorial to the Nazi book-burning of 10 May 1933 in Berlin. Could we ever end up in a similar situation?
  • Reformation sights in Oxford UK
    Some sights in Oxford UK, that are especially significant for Reformation history and the deaths of the Oxford Martyrs Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer.
  • Lift Your EyesLift Your Eyes: Introducing Ephesians
    The central message of Ephesians is that the God of the universe has an amazing plan, which is being put into effect through the preaching of the gospel.
  • Luke 5:1-32 SermonWho is Jesus for?
    Who are the right kind of people according to Jesus? Is Jesus just for one kind of person in our world: Christians versus everyone else? Is Jesus for you?
  • TogetherThe formation of gentile Christ-believing identity vis-à-vis Israel in Ephesians and Barnabas
    Article in the journal Biblica et Patristica Thoruniensia. Keywords: Ephesians; Barnabas; Israel; replacement theology; collective memory; ethnic identity
  • Is God Green? By Lionel WindsorIs God Green?
    A short book about what the Bible says about the environment: why the world is in a mess, where it's headed, and what to do about it in the here and now.
  • Donald RobinsonVale Donald Robinson
    From SydneyAnglicans: One of the towering figures of Anglicanism in the 20th century and former Archbishop of Sydney Bishop Donald Robinson, has died at the age of 95. … The first to pay
  • Interview with Sydney Anglicans about the War on Waste
    I was interviewed by SydneyAnglicans.net about the TV series War on Waste: "Our cause should be the gospel, and that gospel will reshape everything"

On this site

All content copyright Lionel Windsor