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In Chapter 9, John Piper seeks to lay out the structure of Wright’s vision of first-century Judaism. Anyone familiar with the “new perspective on Paul” will quickly understand that the movement represents a new perspective on Judaism, which then colors the way one reads Paul’s epistles. This chapter is more a summary of Wright’s reading of Second-temple Judaism than a substantial critique. Allow me to summarize Piper’s points quickly.

  1. Wright sees a structural continuity between Judaism and Christianity. The dichotomy that sees first-century Judaism as legalistic and Christianity as grace-centered is a false dichotomy. (134)
  2. Works of the Law refer, not to meritorious earnings of salvation, but to boundary-markers, “badges” of ethnic identity. Paul was arguing that the ethnocentric badges of covenant membership that separated Jews and Gentiles have been replaced by one badge alone – faith in Jesus (138-141).
  3. Paul argued against the agitators of Galatia because they were trying to limit the people of God to Jews only (142).

Piper makes other points in this chapter, but I believe he has fairly summarized Wright’s perspective on first-century Judaism. In the next chapter, Piper will critique this vision.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2007 Kingdom People blog

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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