On the Recent Dialogue between Wright and Barclay

Hurtado as usual with a set of particularly perceptive insights:

So, for example, it seems to me that in Paul’s mind the only potential problems with the Torah (Law) were these: (1) If it were used as a basis for misjudging and rejecting Jesus as God’s Messiah and Son (as Paul had done prior to what he calls the divine revelation of “God’s Son” to him), and (2) if it were laid upon Gentile believers as a requirement additional to their faith in Christ, which would have the effect of relativizing Christ.

In Paul’s own experience, his zeal for Torah (as devout Pharisee) ironically had led him to what he subsequently saw as a misguided disobedient response to God’s eschatological action of revelation and redemption in Jesus. So he knew personally that his former kind of Torah-zeal could even produce this kind of “sin,” and that he had to “die to the Law” (in the sense of recognizing that it is not God’s final revelation of his purposes but is now relativized by God’s Son, Jesus), so that Paul could “live to God” (Gal. 2:19).

But, provided that the Torah wasn’t played off against Jesus and the gospel, or imposed improperly on Gentiles, the continued practice of Torah (including, e.g., male circumcision) was fine for Jewish believers, as I read Paul. For if Torah-observant Jews put faith in Christ that meant their acceptance that Christ was now the “telos” of the Law (Romans 10:5), and that Torah was relativized, continuing as a way of life for Jewish believers, but not a salvific requirement for them or Gentiles.

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