Thanks to Michael Bird for mentioning the revised edition of Francis Watson’s Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: A Sociological Approach. The early monograph was one of the first NPP books I cut my teeth on in the early ’90s, and I still consider it a pretty good book. It made my list of Top 4 Books on Galatians and Romans, and I hope I’ll be able to say the same for the revised version.
From Bird’s review of the book:
“Watson concedes in his preface that ‘I have retained only the empty shell of what I once argued’ and he suggests moving ‘beyond the New Perspective’. Furthermore, the insistence on Judaism as ‘a religion of grace’ has had its day and the creativity and diversity of Judaism cannot be reduced to any one scheme… Watson proposes a more nuanced account of what is and is not wrong with the traditional Lutheran reading and endeavors to move beyond polarity on the New Perspective and Paul.”
I already have some idea of where Watson is going based on his essay, “Not the New Perspective”. I too have moved “beyond the New Perspective” in some ways, though I don’t think anything will ever persuade me that Paul was critiquing any attempt to earn salvation by one’s efforts, or that any group of first-century Judeans were legalistic enough to be open to critique in this way. At the same time, the New perspective idea that Paul was concerned only with the scope of God’s saving power does’t hold water. The Gentile issue was half the picture; Paul’s sectarian Christology left no room for the law at all: it was obsolete, and the best it ever had to offer was now available by an entirely different route (the spirit). But more on this later, after I’ve read the book.