Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Legality and liberty : a study of Pauline teaching and practice
Author: Longenecker, Richard N.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1959
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
The apostle Paul has never ceased to excite the interest of "both laymen and scholars. From a purely "biographical perspective, he is a favourite subject since "there were probably exceedingly few people of the Imperial age of Rome whom we can study so exactly as we can Paul through his letters,"1 For the historian interested in the origin of the Christian religion, the teaching and work of the apostle is secondary only to that of the Lord, In a very real sense the maxim is true: "Explain the origin of the religion of Paul, and 2 you have solved the problem of the origin of Christianity," In the field of comparative religions, he stands at the cross-road of Hebraicism and Hellenism - yet lifts his eyes above and beyond. Theologically, his influence upon Western Christendom is unparalleled by any other apostle or teacher. Heretics and reformers - Marcion, Augustine, Luther and Barth, to name only the most prominent representative and diversified figures - have claimed to have received their theological impetus from him. And still today there is a divinely inspired timelessness about his message which has not ceased to grip men and lead them on to their Lord, As a result of this interest, a great body of literature has arisen about the name of Paul, So diligently and thoroughly has he been investigated that many have considered "the literary and personal profile of the Apostle" to "be unmistakably set in "bold relief."*" And yet there have always been claims that scholarship has grossly misinterpreted even the main outlines of his teaching and life. The present study stems from a conviction that while the efforts of many scholars in the past have resulted in a generally faithful reproduction of the Pauline profile, there still remains an ambiguity regarding certain features which needs to be cleared away. Therefore it is the purpose of this work to investigate two closely related matters which can truly be said to be distinctively Pauline; i.e. his treatment of the subjects 'Legality' and 'Liberty'. And in three areas of this legality-liberty dialectic it has appeared needful to sharpen our understanding of the apostle: (1) in his pre-Christian days under the legal system of Judaism; (2) in his Christian teaching regarding legality and liberty; and (3) in his personal practice of liberty as an apostle of Christ. Chapter I prefaces the main discussion in reconsidering the much discussed problem of the relation of the pre-Christian Saul to the Judaism of his day. While this chapter does not bring us immediately into the main theme of the work, it is extremely pertinent in clarifying the nature of Saul's Judaism and thus giving us an important interpretive key to the understanding of the man and his thought. The answer to the question whether Paul's mental and spiritual background was primarily Hebraic or Hellenistic is of great significance, for it both determines the sources which are to be more heavily relied upon and influences the approach of the investigator to the whole of the apostle's thought. In Chapter II we consider the topic 'Saul and Legality'. It has been common practice among Christian theologians to paint Saul's pre-conversion spiritual life in the most drab and dismal of colours; while the Jewish writers and advocates can only see the warm glow of true piety in the normative Judaism from which he claimed to have come. It is the argument of this chapter that the tension of Saul's life was not that of externalism versus inwardness, but of anticipation that could find its release only in Messianic realisation. In fact, he could even be viewed in his Judaistic days as possessing at least a remnant of the old prophetic spirit. Paul's teaching regarding legality and liberty are taken up in Chapters III and IV. He argue in the first place that his opposition to legality stemmed originally from a Judaistic propheticism, but that that opposition was intensified and only received its Christian stamp as it sprang from his Christology. In the following chapter we note that Christian liberty is Christo-centric in its origin, direction, conditioning and goal; but also insist that an injustice is done to the apostle if we accept only the inward Mind of Christ as the factor in the guidance of Christian liberty and ignore his thought regarding the Law of Christ and the function of an apostle and/or the Church in this matter. The last chapter has to do with the phenomenon that while many scholars have insisted that in his practice "he is venturing a leap over the abyss, he has all the air of putting one foot calmly before the other on a level road," The problem here concerns the oft-cited apparently contradictory practices of the apostle as presented in both the Acts and his own letters; dealing with the credibility of such practices and the rationale which lay behind them. Throughout this study we must remember that while the evidence must be evaluated objectively and somewhat disinterestedly, the matter cannot remain in the realm of pure theory. Paul's teaching regarding legality and liberty and his practice of true Christian liberty have a tremendous relevancy for us, steeped as we are in the "do it yourself" and "live to yourself" attitudes of the world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available