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Paul and the Vocation of Israel

Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul's Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to RomansWindsor, Lionel J. Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul’s Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to Romans. BZNW 205. Berlin / Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2014.

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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.

Thesis

Paul’s apostolic mission was his way of being Jewish. Paul was convinced that Israel had received a special divine revelation which conferred on Jews a distinct divine vocation. Paul, in other words, was committed to the view that God’s global purposes in Christ included a special place—and correspondingly a special role—for the Jewish people. Paul, through preaching Christ to the Gentiles, was in fact fulfilling Israel’s distinct divine vocation. This will be our contention in this book. (p.1)

In this book, we are seeking to examine Paul’s Jewish identity using the concept of divine vocation. In particular, we are seeking to demonstrate that Paul viewed his own apostolic vocation as the fulfilment of Israel’s divine vocation. For many of Paul’s Jewish contemporaries, Jewish identity was bound up closely with the Law of Moses, which was seen as a special gift of divine revelation to Israel. The Jews’ distinct divine vocation, in this view, consisted primarily in keeping and teaching the Law of Moses as an exemplary witness to God’s power and wisdom in the world. Paul, as a Jew, agreed with his Jewish contemporaries that the Law of Moses was a special gift of divine revelation and thus a defining feature of Jewish identity. He disagreed, however, about the place of the Law in God’s purposes. Paul read the Jewish Law principally in light of the gospel of Christ. Indeed, for Paul, the Law of Moses was primarily a witness to the gospel. Thus the divine Jewish vocation consisted, not in keeping the Law of Moses per se, but in embodying and communicating a way of life which was focussed on the gospel of Christ as the fulfilment of the Law of Moses; a way of life which issued naturally in the preaching of the gospel to non-Jews. (p. 19)

Reviews

Review of Biblical Literature:

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 genos and 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.

Theologische Literaturzeitung:

W.s Arbeit kommt das sicher zu weiterem exegetischen Nachdenken anregende Verdienst zu, Paulus’ Bemühung um Selbstvergewisserung mittels seiner Jesajarezeption aufgegriffen und in Bezug zu paulinischen Judentum-Aussagen gesetzt zu haben.

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.

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.

Further information

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