The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life

Ethical and Missional Implications of the New Perspective

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The "new perspective" on Paul, an approach that seeks to reinterpret the apostle Paul and his letters against the backdrop of first-century Judaism, has been criticized by some as not having value for ordinary Christians living ordinary lives. In this volume, world-renowned scholars explore the implications of the new perspective on Paul for the Christian life and church. James D. G. Dunn, N. T. Wright, Bruce Longenecker, Scot McKnight, and other leading New Testament scholars offer a response to this question: How does the apostle Paul understand the Christian life? The book makes a fresh contribution to the new perspective on Paul conversation and offers important new insights into the orientation of the Christian life.

Introduction by Scot McKnight and Joseph B. Modica
1. The Christian Life from the Perspective of Paul's Letter to the Galatians
James D. G. Dunn
2. The New Perspective and the Christian Life in Paul's Letter to the Ephesians
Lynn H. Cohick
3. Faith, Works, and Worship: Torah Observance in Paul's Theological Perspective
Bruce W. Longenecker
4. The New Perspective and the Christian Life: Solus Spiritus
Patrick Mitchel
5. Participation in the New Creation People of God in Christ by the Spirit
Timothy G. Gombis
6. The New Perspective and the Christian Life: The Ecclesial Life
Scot McKnight
7. A Symphonic Melody: Wesleyan-Holiness Theology Meets New-Perspective Paul
Tara Beth Leach
8. Paul and Missional Hermeneutics
N. T. Wright


"Although the new perspective on Paul has been controversial, it has also been a great impetus toward rethinking theology and practice, not least in forcing us to see how the issues of grace and race are indelibly bound up together. In this volume, McKnight and Modica lead an international team of biblical scholars in thinking through what it means to say that God saves Jews and gentiles through faith in Jesus, and how this shapes mission, ethics, holiness, community, and the Christian life. A stimulating and stirring read about what Paul means today!"

Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

"'Can these dry bones (of academic theories) live?' This question--the 'so what' factor--is not asked often enough in academia. But this book commences with the 'so what' question in regard to the new perspective on Paul. In recent years, some have declared the new perspective to be passé at best and dead at worst. The contributors to this book make a cogent case not only that the new perspective is still a compelling reading of Paul in his context but also that it draws out a depth and vitality in his theology and spirituality that can guide the Christian life and the church's life today."

Nijay K. Gupta, Portland Seminary

The Authors

  1. Scot McKnight
    Marcus Emerson

    Scot McKnight

    Scot McKnight (PhD, University of Nottingham), a world-renowned scholar, writer, and speaker, is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lisle, Illinois. His blog, Jesus Creed, is one of the most popular and influential evangelical blogs....

    Continue reading about Scot McKnight

  2. Joseph B. Modica

    Joseph B. Modica

    Joseph B. Modica (PhD, Drew University) is university chaplain and associate professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. David's, Pennsylvania. He is the coeditor, with Scot McKnight, of Jesus Is Lord, Caesar Is Not: Evaluating Empire in New...

    Continue reading about Joseph B. Modica


"The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life presents the reader with some of the practical implications that the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) has for the Christian life and church. . . . The impact of the NPP on the church is a broad topic, and this volume offers a glimpse at how the work of the academy can influence the church. . . . This volume is commendable, particularly for its emphasis on the Spirit and the corporate people of God as major Pauline themes."

Ryan Collman,

Expository Times

"The volume tends not to question the findings and possible deficiencies of the NPP [new perspective on Paul] . . . nor the differences between its adherents, but rather to make accessible its findings for the life of the church today. As such it is an entry-level book which does not require knowledge of research languages and it is very easy to read. One common finding is the communal dimension of Paul's theology (and the concomitant tendency to individualism in some older Pauline scholarship) and its emphasis on transformation; a timely word for today's church."

Philip Richardson,

Religious Studies Review

"The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life is . . . written by a venerable who's-who list of Pauline scholars. . . . This work covers numerous theological motifs important to Christian living including: ecclesiology, pneumatology, missiology, Christology, soteriology, ethicality, and sanctification. This serves as a helpful corrective to many Pauline theologies in which ecclesiology, pneumatology, and missiology are rarely (if ever) discussed. . . . The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life is an important step forward in the OPP and NPP debate. . . . This text serves as a helpful and well-written introduction to the debates surrounding the NPP and Paul's conception of Christian living."

Gregory E. Lamb,

Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry

"The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life reminds us that one of the most valuable contributions of the NPP was to bring attention to the fact that Paul was, ultimately, concerned with the community of God. . . . The essays can provide some helpful introduction to this topic."

Russell Morton,

Bulletin for Biblical Research

"The book's focus is not another New Perspective vs. Old Perspective work; instead, the all star team of NT scholars analyzes the apostle's writings and, through a new perspective lens, expos[es] any implications for Christian Life. . . . This would be an excellent resource for any with little to no familiarity on the new perspective. It would also make an excellent book discussion resource."

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