Presentation Title

C-2 Did the Reformers Misunderstand Righteousness by Faith? New Perspectives on Habakkuk 2:4b

Presenter Status

Assistant Professor, Department of Religion and Biblical Languages

Preferred Session

Oral Session

Location

Buller Hall 150

Start Date

3-11-2017 3:15 PM

End Date

3-11-2017 3:30 PM

Presentation Abstract

One of the hallmark cries of the Reformation, “the just shall live by faith,” was first penned by the prophet Habakkuk, and is often quoted and alluded to in the New Testament. For decades and even centuries, this phrase has been interpreted as referring to righteousness by faith in terms of forensic legal substitution, based on human faith in Jesus’ sacrifice. However, scholars who follow the “new perspective on Paul” have argued that the typical interpretation is a misunderstanding of the context, and that the phrase is actually referring to God's faithfulness, rather than human faith. In this paper, I consider the possibility that both the old and new perspectives are right in their theology, and that both aspects are found in the context and content of the phrase in Habakkuk itself. Rather than negating the foundational message of the Reformation, the new perspective on Paul simply addresses an additional aspect of righteousness by faith that had yet to be examined and expounded upon. In addition, Paul's focus on the imperative of an ethical lifestyle resulting from faith in Jesus, can also be seen within the context and content of Habakkuk. Thus, Hab 2:4b supports all three of the following: (1) the insights of the Reformers; (2) the recent proposal by those championing the new perspective on Paul; and (3) the importance of good works as the sign and confirmation of human faith in God's faithfulness.

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Nov 3rd, 3:15 PM Nov 3rd, 3:30 PM

C-2 Did the Reformers Misunderstand Righteousness by Faith? New Perspectives on Habakkuk 2:4b

Buller Hall 150

One of the hallmark cries of the Reformation, “the just shall live by faith,” was first penned by the prophet Habakkuk, and is often quoted and alluded to in the New Testament. For decades and even centuries, this phrase has been interpreted as referring to righteousness by faith in terms of forensic legal substitution, based on human faith in Jesus’ sacrifice. However, scholars who follow the “new perspective on Paul” have argued that the typical interpretation is a misunderstanding of the context, and that the phrase is actually referring to God's faithfulness, rather than human faith. In this paper, I consider the possibility that both the old and new perspectives are right in their theology, and that both aspects are found in the context and content of the phrase in Habakkuk itself. Rather than negating the foundational message of the Reformation, the new perspective on Paul simply addresses an additional aspect of righteousness by faith that had yet to be examined and expounded upon. In addition, Paul's focus on the imperative of an ethical lifestyle resulting from faith in Jesus, can also be seen within the context and content of Habakkuk. Thus, Hab 2:4b supports all three of the following: (1) the insights of the Reformers; (2) the recent proposal by those championing the new perspective on Paul; and (3) the importance of good works as the sign and confirmation of human faith in God's faithfulness.