April 07, 2010

Michael Bird, The Saving Righteousness of God

It is a sad irony that some of the books I enjoy the most are the ones that languish on my to-be-reviewed shelf the longest. I think it's partly that I want to do them justice. And this one by Bird has been on my shelf since last fall—a testimony to its value, not its unimportance. And because I can't stand to see it sit there any longer, I offer instead this short inadequate notice to say it was truly a great book. I've been greatly enjoying, over the past year or so, delving deeply in to the world of Pauline theology, but that joy has been often tempered by frustration or even angst at the fragmented world of Pauline scholarship: so much seems contested these days, with many scholars working at cross purposes. And much of the debate is far too acrimonious. But Bird's offering in the Paternoster Monographs series is truly a gem. It offers great exegetical insight into Paul's letters, a clear-headed appraisal of what is important to the Apostle, and a constructive proposal that integrates the fruit of both the "traditional" reading of Paul and an open but critical inclusion of the "new perspective" on Paul and other contemporary approaches and estimations of the Apostle. In short, even beyond the great wealth of knowledge on Paul and his understanding of God's saving righteousness, Bird's book gives me great hope that especially the divide between old and new perspectives on Paul will be transcended as we move forward. This book is truly a must-read for anyone interested in Paul, the new Perspective, Romans, or even the New Testament more generally.

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