Reflection on John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift

Euangelion | 8/19/2019 | Staff
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I’ve now finished a second reading of John Barclay’s superb volume Paul and the Gift (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015).

This is certainly one of the most significant books in Pauline studies, up there with N.T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God, and E.P. Sanders’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism as a monumental and must-have book.

Genius - Barclay - Perspective - Paul - Dichotomy

The genius of Barclay is that he offers what I take to be a nuanced apocalyptic perspective on Paul that cuts through the dichotomy of Reformed and New Perspective Debates, he offers an exegetical rigorous analysis of Galatians and Romans, with compelling theological commentary for the most part.

Barclay’s mini-commentary on Galatians and Romans 9-11 alone is worth five times the price of the book. Plus, along the way Barclay makes some very sober and mostly convincing judgments about things like Paul within Judaism (p. 357 n. 20; 359-60 n. 26; 521 n. 2), the pistis christou debate (pp. 340-41, 476-78), and (less convincing for me but still a worthwhile read) Paul and empire (p. 456 n. 15). There is an analysis of Greco-Roman benefactions, sociology of gift-giving, second temple Jewish texts, Augustine and Luther, and of course Galatians and Romans. Virtually every page drips with exegetical insight, evidences wide reading, exhibits clarity, rigor, and sound reasoning.

Notes - Chapter - Research - Notes - Paul

I’ve taken notes from just about every chapter and added them to my research notes on Paul. Statements like: “It matters greatly to Paul that there is a successful mission to Jews. What he desires is not the formation of a Gentile church, independent of Jewish believers, but an interdependent fellowship of Jews and non-Jews in Christ” (pp. 363-64), which would have been a nice supporting quotation for my An Anomalous Jew, chapter 2 about Paul as apostle to Jews and Gentiles. Similarly, Barclay’s discussion of Rom 2:25-29 about how Paul...
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