Description : In recent years, the scholarly consensus has emerged that early Judaism should no longer be classified as a religion of legalistic works on righteousness, but rather defined primarily by God's covenant with Israel. In this work, it is argued, instead, that there is actually a tension in early Judaism between God as righteous judge and as merciful. As E. Sjöberg maintained in his Gott und Sünder im palästinischen Judentum, in the sources used for a reconstruction of early Judaism, there are two mutually exclusive ways in which God is said to relate to human beings. First, God as righteous judge deals with human beings as they deserve. They are assumed to be morally free and responsible, and God judges and recompenses them in history and eschatologically. Not only are the wicked punished for their sins, but the righteous are also rewarded for their obedience. And second, God as merciful does not deal with human beings as they deserve. Rather, he removes the guilt resulting from disobedience to the Law, sometimes on the simple condition of repentance. This means that a person can escape the consequences of disobedience. The understanding of God in the sources vacillates between God as righteous judge and God as merciful, without coming down definitively on one side to the exclusion of the other.
Description : This book is an explanation of the author’s investigation into James’ concept of God, using the historical-critical approach as a hermeneutical tool to find out how it was important to different realms of the early Messianic community and its significance to Christians today. The Epistle of James faced lot of struggles to be included in the New Testament. For various reasons, the book was not considered for early canonization. The main reason was the view that there were less theological aspects in the content of the book. Martin Luther described this book as “an epistle of straw.” Respectively, scholars like Martin Debelius, J. H. Ropes, E. J. Goodspeed and A. M. Hunter also underscore the nature of its relatively limited theology by highlighting other aspects of the Epistle of James. Therefore, this book attempts to investigate James’ theological concepts by looking into his use of the concept of God in the socio-political, religious and economic settings of the people in the text.
Description : Mercy is an important concept in the Christian moral tradition. It is one of the most prominent divine attributes, and is embodied in Jesus Christ. This volume investigates the concept of mercy from a Protestant point of view with respect to its consequences for an increasingly non-Christian society. Starting from its biblical origins, a group of international authors explicates the intrinsically messianic logic of divine mercy for its potential in current theological ethics, practical ecclesiology, systematic and public theology.
Description : "There are many introductions to the life, thought, and letters of Paul the apostle. Some concentrate upon his life, while others focus upon his thought, and still others on his letters. A few of them, like this book, try to integrate all three of them -- including on occasion material from the book of Acts -- into a useful portrait of the man and what he said and thought as revealed through his letters." - from preface.
Description : In this volume Michael D. Matlock analyses five lengthy biblical prose prayers from the exilic and post-exilic period: Solomon's prayer (1 Kings 8.14-61), Ezra's prayer (Ezra 9.5-15), Nehemiah's prayer (Nehemiah 1.4-11), the Levites' prayer (Nehemiah 9.4-37), and the prayer of Daniel (Daniel 9:3-19). He also examines prayers from Second Temple literature including texts from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the writings of Philo and Josephus and texts from Qumran, and discusses the Septuagintal versions of the five biblical prayers and Targum Jonathan's treatment of Solomon's prayer. He offers a new English translation of each prayer, examines the prayers' rhetorical characteristics, and demonstrates how each prayer draws upon and reinterprets traditional images and materials. Matlock describes how each prayer relates to its larger narrative context and examines its functions within that context. Finally, he appraises the various similarities and differences in these prayers in terms of their different contexts in the Second Commonwealth period noting particular theologies and ideologies.
Description : Is salvation a gift of God's grace or something God's followers must earn by good works? How do we reconcile the two emphases that salvation is a bestowal of God's mercy and that the final judgment will involve an assessment of the way people have lived during their time on earth? In Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977), E.P. Sanders defined the terms and laid the groundwork for this crucial debate. Sanders's "New Perspective" sought to resolve the tension between grace and good deeds by arguing that for the Jews of Paul's day as well as for Paul himself, entrance into God's saving covenant was a gift of God's grace, while remaining in the covenant required good works done in obedience to God. Sanders's most vigorous opponents have disputed the works side of his formulation, taking issue with his contention that obedience is required to retain right standing in God's covenant. In Judgment and Justification, Chris VanLandingham challenges the grace side of the Sanders thesis, arguing that Paul's teaching on salvation, following the prevailing Jewish thinking of his time, establishes good works as the criterion for salvation at the final judgment. In making his case, VanLandingham does a text-by-text survey of early Jewish literature, interacting with a wide range of biblical scholars who deal with the themes of salvation and literature and judgment found in these texts and in the Pauline writings. VanLandingham wraps up this survey with a challenging reassessment of Paul's teaching in the light of the Jewish thinking of his time.