Δικαιοσύνη Θεοῦ: A Cipher for “God’s Covenant Faithfulness”?
Advocates of the New Perspective on Paul appeal to the view that “righteousness” in biblical theology is a Verhältnisbegriff (relational concept). This is the view that “righteousness” does not mean conformity to a norm, nor is it an essentially legal concept; rather, “righteousness” denotes the fulfillment of the demands of a relationship, since the relationship itself is the norm. This relational interpretation of “righteousness” was first put forward by Hermann Cremer in 1899 and exercised a profound influence in biblical scholarship throughout the 20th century. It lies at the root of the New Perspective claim that δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ in Paul is a cipher for God’s saving faithfulness to his covenant. In this paper, I critically examine Cremer’s chief arguments for the relational interpretation. The paper summarizes the fruits of an exhaustive lexical study of tsedeq and tsedaqah in the Hebrew Bible and their translational equivalents in the Septuagint.
It should be an interesting meeting. It will be helpful to hear N. T. Wright, Frank Thielman, and Tom Schreiner speaking individually and then interacting together as a panel on Friday morning. One's understanding of a scholar's position is deepened by the combination of reading what they have published and then hearing them explain their ideas orally in person. It's even better if you get a chance to ask them questions.