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Archive for August, 2012

“Paul is not primarily interested in Jesus’ resurrection for its apologetic value as an especially evident display and powerful proof of his divinity.  Rather…he views it as the vindication of the incarnate Christ in his sufferings and obedience unto death, as his constitution as ‘firstborn among many brothers’ (Rom. 8:29).  The resurrection of Christ is simply that—the resurrection of ‘the Christ,’ who in his experience is one with those on whose behalf he has been anointed.  Or to express this solidaric, messianic factor in a broader, more distinctly Pauline category, it is the resurrection of the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:22, 45).  The resurrection of Jesus is just as thoroughly messianic and adamic as are his sufferings and death.  His resurrection is as equally representative and vicarious as his death.” (Richard Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption, pp. 65-66).

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“The real difficulty for interpretation lies in the fact that in Paul’s writings we encounter a thinker of constructive genius, with a dogmatic bent, but only as he directs himself to specific situations and questions, only as he expresses himself in ‘occasional’ fashion. In short, the true problem in understanding Paul is that he is a theologian, a careful and systematic thinker, accessible only through pastoral letters and records of his sermons.  His writings are obviously not doctrinal treatises; but neither do they consist in a variety of unrelated, ad hoc formulations or in any unsystematic multiplication of conceptions.  They reflect a structure of thought.  The Pauline epistles may be aptly compared to the visible portion of an iceberg.  What juts above the surface is but a small fraction of what remains submerged.  The true proportions of the whole lie hidden beneath the surface.  The contours of what can be seen at first glance may also prove deceptive.  Put less pictorially, that conception or line of thought having relatively little explicit textual support, on reflection may prove to be of the most basic, constitutive significance.  This state of affairs makes the interpretation of Paul, particularly a comprehensive attempt, an inherently difficult and precarious undertaking…The interpretation of Paul above all involves careful attention to underlying structure.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology, pp. 28-29)

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