Paul’s Letter to the Romans, the Ten Commandments, and Pagan “Justification by Faith”
E. P. Sanders’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977) challenged the utility of the phrase “justification by faith” as a key to anything other than Lutheran scholarship. This note argues that the phrase does offer us insight into the historical Paul, provided we interpret it within its native context, an apocalyptic stream of first-century Hellenistic Judaism that took its message to pagans. Noting that
dikaiosynē functioned commonly as a code for the Second Table of the Law, and that pistis in the first century meant not “belief ” or “faith” but “conviction, steadfastness, loyalty,” the argument concludes that the pagans’ dikaōthentes ek pisteōs indicates these people’s pneumatically granted ability to act toward one another in community according to the dictates of the Ten Commandments.
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