Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Scot McKnight's Seven Principles on Pauline Theology

I was perusing through Scot McKnight's magisterial Jesus and His Death: Historiography, the Historical Jesus, and Atonement Theory when I came upon his Excursus: "Chasing Down Paul's Theological Ship" (372). After summarizing the way scholars have gone about discussing Paul's theology (372-374), McKnight concludes with this observation:

Paul's theology is not systematics; instead he is grasped best when at least the following seven Pauline principles are kept on the table as we proceed through his letters. First, the gospel is the grace of God in revealing Jesus as Messiah and Lord for everyone who believes; second, everyone stands behind one of the twin heads of humanity, Adam and Christ; third, Jesus Christ is center stage, and it is participation in him that transfers a person from the Adam line to the Christ line; fourth, the church is the body of Christ on earth; fifth, (salvation-)history does not begin with Moses but with Abraham and the promise God gave to him, and finds its crucial turning point in Jesus Christ--but will run its course until the glorious lordship of Christ over all; sixth, Christian behavior is determined by the Holy Spirit, not the Torah; seventh, Paul is an apostle and not a philosopher and systematic theologian. These principles springs into action when Paul meets his various threats (circumcision, wisdom, gifts, works of the Torah, ethnocentrism, flesh, rival leaders, and the eschatological fights about the Parousia or the general resurrection). (374)

I find these principles quite helpful as guidelines when thinking and writing about Paul's theology, but I am curious as to what fellow bibliobloggers might think. Is there more that should be added?


J. R. Daniel Kirk said...

I was interested to see McKnight's sixth thesis. I think it's spot on, but I've seen him on his blog affirm "third use of the Law" before. Maybe he thinks Paul's wrong! (Tongue in cheek.)

BTW: I saw you at SBL, sorry I didn't get / take a chance to say hello.

Matthew D. Montonini said...

Hey, Daniel.

I remember seeing you also. Next time I will interrupt whatever conversations we are having and say hello!