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The Law/Torah “Repudiated,” “Replaced,” and “Reappropriated” (Part 1)

October 14, 2015 Speaker: Adam Olean

In this class, we begin discussing how the apostle Paul’s attitude toward the Law/Torah can apparently be so “negative” at one moment and then turn “positive” a mere section, paragraph, or, sometimes, no more than a breath later.

We illustrate how the New Testament authors generally treated the Law/Torah as a unity (i.e., as being the five books of Moses) rather than merely legal bits. That is not to say, however, that the Torah has no parts, sections, or summary statements of the Sinaitic Covenant expressed, for example, in the the Book of the Covenant, the “Ten Words” or “Ten Commandments” (Lev 19:18, 34; Deut 4:13–14), and especially the two greatest commandments (Deut 6:4–5). We also see that the threefold division of the law (into Moral Law, Civil Law, and Ceremonial Law) is somewhat artificial and, most importantly, that it cannot adequately account for the extent and degree of Paul’s negative and positive statements—specifically, the extent and degree to which he (as Brian S. Rosner summarizes it) “polemically repudiates” the Law/Torah (“as law-covenant”), “radically replaces” the Law/Torah (“as theological motif”), and, finally, “wholeheartedly reappropriates” the Law/Torah (“as Christian Scripture”—a source of “wisdom” and “prophecy”). We only scratch the surface of this topic, but hopefully this study helps get us thinking even more carefully about the Torah and its relationship and value to believers under the both the Old and New Covenants (2 Tim 3:15–17).

Brian S. Rosner has delivered a series of lectures titled, “Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God,” at the Annual Moore College Lectures in 2011. He has also written a book by the same title: Rosner, Brian S. Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God. New Studies in Biblical Theology 31. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013.