Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Concluding Justification and Variegated Nomism, Volume 1

I finished Justification and Variegated Nomism, Volume 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism. I have two items:

1. On pages 502-503, Roland Deines says that the Pharisees viewed themselves as sanctifiers of Israel, a remnant that, like leaven, leavens the entire dough. They sought to show the nation the path of righteousness. On page 501, Deines states large parts of the Jews saw the Pharisees as normative, legitimate, and authentic in their interpretation of God's will, even if not all of these Jews strictly followed Pharisaic halakah. This is interesting----that the Pharisees were not entirely exclusive, and that many Jews could respect yet not obey the Pharisees.

2. E.P. Sanders argued that Second Temple and Tannaitic Judaism largely did not promote salvation by works, for they held that Jews entered the covenant by God's grace, but that they stayed in God's covenant by trying to obey and by availing themselves of the means of atonement when they failed. But D.A. Carson does not think that such a formula precludes Second Temple Judaism from having a merit-based component, in areas. After all, if Jews had to obey to stay in the covenant and to be saved, then that is a merit-based system of salvation. Granted, not every Second Temple and Tannaitic voice was like that. The Testament of Moses, which may date to the first century C.E., maintains that God's election cannot be undone by disobedience (page 197). Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1 affirms that all Israel has a share in the World to Come. But this volume demonstrates that there were Second Temple works that embraced a merit-based system of salvation.

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