We spent nearly all of Greek Galatians class today translating Galatians 2:16. Surely it is the most debated verse in the New Testament. Am I wrong?
It occurred to me that I always throw out a core bibliography when I go through Galatians 2:16 for whatever reason. I thought I would post it. Certainly, the key articles reflects my interpretive leanings. Obviously, James D. G. Dunn features high on my list of resources. Since most of the relevant essays now appear in one volume, The New Perspective on Paul, I list the older articles as they are situated in this volume.
"We who are Jews by nature and not sinners from the Gentiles..."
James D. G. Dunn, "The Incident at Antioch (Gal. 2:11-18)," in Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians, 129-82 remains, in my opinion, an excellent introduction to the basic context of Galatians 2:15-21, which I agree is indeed the proposition of the letter.
Since we know that a person is not justified...
What does it mean to be justified? In general, John Piper is too thoroughly ensconched in the Calvinist tradition to be a reliable original meaning interpreter of Paul in general, although as we might expect, he is a good scholar when the right conclusion fits within Calvinist parameters.
N. T. Wright is good on justification two-thirds of the time--on the law court and eschatological parts of it. His covenantal spin, however, continues to be the best illustration of the fact that we often formulate our key ideas when we are young in a PhD program, then become associated with those immature ideas, then spend the rest of our career defending them. A must read is his forthcoming response to John Piper on the topic.
Basically, you can trust a Bible scholar when they are critiquing another Bible scholar. You just can't trust us when we are selling material from our dissertations :-)
by works of law...
Here Dunn's mature statement in the long introduction to The New Perspective, "The New Perspective--Whence, What and Wither" (1-97), is in my opinion the best understanding of this phrase.
Also significant is his earlier piece, "Works of the Law and the Curse of the Law (Gal. 3:10-14)" from 1985 (New Perspective, 121-40), not to mention the article that put the name "new perspective" on the new perspective, namely, "The New Perspective on Paul" (1983--in New Perspective, 99-120).
Should we translate the two words here in their normal sense or as "but." Dunn's "Incident at Antioch" above argues for "except."
through faith of Jesus Christ...
The two key articles here are reprinted in Richard Hays' signature volume, The Faith of Jesus Christ: The Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1-4:11. The two articles were originally presented in Kansas City at the 1991 SBL: Hays: "Pistis and Pauline Theology: What's at Stake" and Dunn: "Once More, Pistis Christou."
even we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by Christ faith and not works of law...
All the key issues above are repeated here. Consult especially Dunn on works of law and Hays/Dunn on redundancy if one goes with an objective genitive throughout.
Since this is my blog, you'll forgive me if I sneak in my article here, "2 Corinthians and the Pistis Christou Debate, CBQ 70 (2008): 524-37," which suggests Paul may have a double entendre in mind in the final pistis Christou. Since that claim was not a part of my dissertation, you can trust it. :-)
for by works of law no flesh will be justified.
This quotation of Psalm 143 and Paul's modifications to it are well treated by Richard Hays in his book, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul.
You could do a whole course on this verse, reading through this literature. It would actually be quite a good introduction to Paul's theology in the specific area of his interaction with the Jerusalem church. If twenty of you wanted to do an online graduate course on Acrobat in the Fall... :-)
Dunn's Historical Jesus summary of the day is a comin'.