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Paul and the Economy of Salvation

Reading from the Perspective of the Last Judgment

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"This important study is the fruit of a lifetime of reflection, teaching, and writing on Paul. . . . [This is] the work of a mature master of his trade who has a firm grasp of an issue crucial to an understanding of the Pauline view. . . . A beautifully crafted publication."--Francis J. Moloney, SBD, Australasian Catholic Record

This major contribution to Pauline scholarship by a widely-respected New Testament scholar is the culmination of over forty years of teaching on Paul. Brendan Byrne demonstrates that topics often discussed in Pauline studies and Christian theology go astray when the significance of the last judgment falls from view. Offering a fresh Catholic perspective that engages with centuries of Protestant interpretation, this book recaptures the significance of the motif of the last judgment for the interpretation of Paul.

1. The Apocalyptic Background to Paul
2. "Righteousness" in Paul
3. The Last Judgment in the Letters of Paul aside from Romans
4. The Last Judgment in Romans 1:1-3:20
5. The Last Judgment in Romans 3:21-4:25
6. The Last Judgment in Romans 9-11
7. The Last Judgment in Romans 12-15
8. The Last Judgment in Romans 5-8
9. The Universal Need for Salvation: Moment 1
10. The Sending of the Son: Moment 2a
11. The Divine Act of Reconciliation: Moment 2b
12. Living in Hope of Glory Revealed: Moment 3
13. Paul and the Economy of Salvation: Theological Reflection


"Brendan Byrne's reading of Paul is informed by Catholic sensibility, but more decisively by the Jewish apocalyptic tradition that was the matrix of Pauline eschatology. It provides a fresh appreciation of the significance of the impending judgment for Paul's idea of justification. This is an important contribution not only to Pauline studies but also to Catholic-Protestant dialogue."

John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament, Yale Divinity School

"Born of serious listening to the text, lengthy reflection, and extensive engagement with other interpreters, Brendan Byrne's fresh assessment of Paul as an apocalyptic theologian offers us a significant gift. In a time when Paul's announcement of a final judgment threatens to disappear from even conservative readings of Scripture, Byrne provides a healthy and much-needed corrective. His careful reading of Paul might well provide the basis for fruitful ecumenical dialogue concerning the work of Christ, the gift of the Spirit, and the salvation of the human being. For these reasons and more, this work undoubtedly will win a wide hearing."

Mark Seifrid, professor of exegetical theology, Concordia Seminary

"Pauline studies are at their best when a scholar addresses those theological issues that matter to the everyday life of believers. This is precisely what Brendan Byrne has done in his magisterial study of Paul's understanding of the economy of salvation. Perennial questions of justification and salvation, understood in the light of the final judgment, are front and center in his study. How do we become righteous? What does it mean to be righteous? How are we judged? By providing a careful reading of the nondisputed Pauline letters, especially Romans, Byrne answers these questions in ways that go beyond and so bridge the Catholic-Protestant divide. Here is a comprehensive, authoritative work that matters, from a seasoned scholar who appreciates the theological dimension of the text."

Frank J. Matera, professor emeritus, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

"Byrne makes an excellent case for the importance of the last judgment for understanding what Paul means by justification. He shows that Paul's thinking in this regard is apocalyptic in its view that obedience and a righteous pattern of life are necessary for anyone to be judged worthy of eternal life. Every student of Paul, from beginners to established scholars, can profit from this well-written and accessible book."

Adela Yarbro Collins, Buckingham Professor Emerita of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale Divinity School

"Our current era of Pauline studies is awash with studies challenging the law-versus-grace dichotomy that emerged from the Reformation. Brendan Byrne's mature Paul and the Economy of Salvation must be listed among the best of them. A Jewish apocalyptic worldview, with its final judgment, provides essential background. Byrne's systematic and wide-reaching study of the lurking presence of that worldview across the Pauline corpus, with a special focus on Romans (especially Rom. 5-8), indicates that the baptized believer lives in an 'overlap time.' During that time one is involved in 'the process of living out righteousness that one has as a gift--inseparably from the Giver--in Christ.'"

Francis J. Moloney, SDB, Senior Professorial Fellow, Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity

"This book, the fruit of four decades of study and reflection in an ecumenical context, is a masterful exposition of Paul's understanding of the 'economy of salvation.' In his typically erudite, lucid, and deeply theological manner, Brendan Byrne has once more produced a must-read for Pauline scholars. Particularly impressive is his thorough exegesis of Romans that takes seriously Paul's own context and the Jewish apocalyptic background of his thought. The final product is a creative and convincing exposition of the apostle's complex understanding of the last judgment."

Ronald D. Witherup, PSS, author of Galatians: Life in the New Creation--A Spiritual-Pastoral Reading

The Author

  1. Brendan Byrne, SJ

    Brendan Byrne, SJ

    Brendan Byrne, SJ (DPhil, Oxford), is professor emeritus at the University of Divinity in Melbourne, Australia, and a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He taught New Testament for over four decades at Jesuit Theological College...

    Continue reading about Brendan Byrne, SJ


"This important study is the fruit of a lifetime of reflection, teaching, and writing on Paul. . . . Over his several years of steady research and the writing of this study, Byrne's enthusiasm for his potential book waxed and waned. He suggested that he had said it all before. That is true, but never as systematically and clearly as in this work of a mature master of his trade who has a firm grasp of an issue crucial to an understanding of the Pauline view. Not all will agree, but there can be no mistaking what Brendan Byrne thinks Paul thought. One of Byrne's major concerns as he labored with this book was that a younger generation of scholars is producing significant Pauline studies that seek--in various ways--to build bridges across the 'faith and/or works' gulf. They must have their important say, but Byrne's Paul and the Economy of Salvation must be listed among the best of them. The physical production of every aspect of the book (e.g., cover, elegant hardback, typeface, pagination, full indices) is a delight. . . . A beautifully crafted publication."

Francis J. Moloney, SBD,

Australasian Catholic Record