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Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking A Pauline Theme Paperback – November 14, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (November 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802869610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802869616
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
“What I love most about Stephen Westerholm is his ability to articulate and celebrate the freshness of the old perspective on Paul. . . . I cannot more highly recommend Westerholm’s new book to anyone who has an interest in Paul. . . . A must read for all seekers of Paul. It is short. It is to the point. It interacts with some key Pauline scholars. . . . Most importantly, it confidently and clearly shows that a traditional reading of Paul, although it may need a tune-up, is in no way in need of a complete overhaul.”

Reviews in Religion
“A wonderfully written analysis of the key issues in the debate. . . . Could work well as an introduction to justification in Paul for an undergraduate course, or for students at whatever level seeking a summary of recent writings on this theme. It would also be a stimulating read for those enamored with ‘new perspectives’ on Paul, encouraging them to look again at a ‘traditional approach’ to Paul’s justification language. In my view, they could hardly find a better guide than Westerholm.”

Lutheran Quarterly
“It can be recommended as a primer for the general reader on current debates, and it should be considered as a serious challenge to academic interpreters.”

Reformation 21 (blog)
“Read this short, engaging book. An evangelical reader will get up to speed on various critical views of Paul concerning justification and enjoy a heart-warming defense of the glorious Gospel.”

Theology Today
“Oldness does not necessarily mean obsolescence. A reading of Justification Reconsidered confirms that and gives the reader a succinct introduction to the issues involved when Pauline revisionists maintain otherwise.”

Simon Gathercole
-- University of Cambridge
"Reading Stephen Westerholm’s sketch of justification in Paul is a duty and a joy. This volume introduces the subject clearly and elegantly to students. But it also throws down the gauntlet to the New Perspectivists. How will they respond?"

John M. G. Barclay
-- Durham University
"Every student wrestling with 'justification' will be grateful for this highly engaging book. Westerholm nimbly develops the mainstream interpretation, while critiquing popular current alternatives (including those by Campbell and Wright). Here is ready ammunition for an important continuing debate."

R. Barry Matlock
-- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
"Anything Stephen Westerholm writes on ‘justification by faith’ is not just worth reading; it is essential reading. If you have been led to believe that Paul is only concerned with a Gentile problem, not a human problem; that 'justification' means 'belonging to the covenant'; that 'works of law' refers simply to 'boundary markers'; that 'justification theory' must be eliminated from Paul; then you have not been fully informed. And if being well informed on such things matters to you, then read this book."

Douglas J. Moo
-- Wheaton College
"Justification Reconsidered is a valuable summary and extension of Stephen Westerholm’s fresh and compelling arguments about Paul and Judaism in his Perspectives Old and New on Paul. This book engages with key biblical and theological issues in current interpretation of Paul and is marked by a refreshingly clear and forthright style."

About the Author

Stephen Westerholm is professor of early Christianity at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. His other books include Preface to the Study of Paul, Perspectives Old and New on Paul, and Israel's Law and the Church's Faith: Paul and His Recent Interpreters.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Chris Woznicki on December 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am currently thinking about two books on Paul, the first book is about 1700 pages long and the truth is most people probably will never read the whole thing (despite the fact that at one point it was in the top 1000 on Amazon). The second book doesn’t even hit the 100 page mark (it ends at 99 pages of text); its easily accessible and extremely cheap compared to the 1700 page book. Which one are you going to read? In case you were wondering which one I picked up, I picked up the 99 page book (if somebody wants to get me PFG for Christmas I would really appreciate that). The short book is Stephen Westerholm’s Justification Reconsidered.

Justification Reconsidered isn’t so much a book, but more so a collection of loosely related essays on the topic of Justification. Each essay takes its particular angle at the doctrine or the scholarship of the doctrine and argues for a more traditional account of justification contra the New Perspective.

Westerholm says that the aim of his book is to “both update and to make more widely accessible earlier work I have done.” If you aren’t familiar with his earlier work, basically he engages in a project of questioning revisionist claims about Paul. That doesn’t mean that he blindly sides with the more traditional perspective, but he doesn’t full on abandon that side either. That also doesn’t mean that he values what the New Perspective brings, but he doesn’t fall head over heels for it either. In other words Westerholm tries (difficult as it might be) to allow Paul to speak for himself….


Chapter 1 introduces the revisionist problem for those who aren’t acquainted with it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S. E. Paynter on December 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
Stephen Westerholm, "Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline
Theme", Eerdmans (Grand Rapids: Michigan), 2013.

This is a superbly written and important treatment of the Apostle Paul's
teaching on "justification". Westerholm writes with wonderful economy
of words, clarity of thought, and gentle wit. This is a slim book of
only 99 pages. It contains a few footnotes (on the same page as they are
referenced on), and a Scripture index.

Westerholm defends an "old perspective" or "Reformed" understanding of
justification, and he does so primarily using exegetical arguments
concerning Paul's teaching. His arguments interact with various "new
perspective" readings, including Stendahl's, Dunn's and Wright's, and
in a very short chapter he introduces and provides an initial yet
helpful critique of Campbell's attack on what Campbell calls
"justification theory". Westerholm's book is primarily a positive
treatment of what Paul teaches about the justification of believers,
and this book can be used as an introduction to this subject. However,
it does so while making a number of pointed and telling remarks against
the dogmas of "new perspective on Paul" scholarship.

The chapters of Westerholm's book are as follows:

1. The Peril of Modernizing Paul
2. A Jewish Doctrine?
3. Are "Sinners" all that Sinful?
4. Justified by Faith
5. Not by Works of the Law
6. Justification and Justification Theory
7. In a Nutshell

Chapter 1 contains a rapid positive overview of Paul's teaching on
soteriology, and on justification in particular.
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Format: Paperback
After studying the issue of Paul's view of the law and justification for many years, I have firmly come to the conclusion that the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) is a theory fraught with many historical, theological, and exegetical problems. Considering that many adept evangelical scholars have criticized this revisionist model of Paul, one can hardly believe that many scholars, pastors, and lay-people still hold onto this unbiblical interpretation of Paul's thoughts on the law and justification.

Prof. Westerholm has done the evangelical world a great favour by writing this short book on Paul's view of the law and justification. It basically reaffirms what he stated in his previous larger work "Perspectives Old and New on Paul" published a decade ago (which is one of the best books on this subject within the last 10 years). The good thing about this book is that, unlike his older one, this book is easier to read and more geared towards people who want to get their feet wet in the whole Pauline controversy over the law.

Chapter 1 pretty much sets the stage of the book. He basically compares the view of Krister Stendahl and other modernist interpreters and analyzes if they are viable (the view that Paul was NOT mainly concerned with "how sinners get right with a just God"). Westerholm refutes this newer understanding and argues that the "old perspectivists" are right in saying that Paul's main concern is how unrighteous sinners can be righteous before a holy and just God.

Chapter 2 analyzes E. P. Sanders' model of how Second Temple Judaism should be understood (especially in regards to sin, grace, and righteousness). Westerholm does a masterful job here stating that Paul and Judaism had different conceptions of sin, grace, and righteousness.
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