From Solution to Plight: Part 2
And now for part two of my series of posts on "From Solution to Plight."
There are a couple of reasons why I agree with Sanders that one should properly understand Paul's theology as proceeding from solution to plight. First, Paul's own testimony to his former life under the law in such places like Phillipians chapter 3 seems to throw in doubt the assertion that Paul before his "conversion" was undergoing an inner spiritual crisis concerning his Jewish faith:
"If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless." Phillipians 3:4-6 (RSV)
The attempt to appropriate Rom. 7: 13ff in support of a pre-Christian Paul under a state of torah-crisis is problematic espescially in light of Paul's testimony in the Phillipians passage just quoted. Indeed, the majority of commentators have abandoned the older view which interpreted this passage as an autobiographical portrait of Paul before his "conversion." Most now interpret the "I" in the passage as referring to humankind in general rather than to Paul specifically. Thus any attempt to construct a psychological analysis of Paul's pre-Christian condition under the law will forever be a fruitless and futile exercise.
Now, granted, one should be cautious of doing this type of exegetical analysis with the Phillipian passage. However, this passage seems clearer exegetically and much more "matter of fact" than the passage from Romans. With this passage it is at least uncontested that Paul is speaking about himself. If one is going to attempt a psychological analysis of Paul's pre-Christian condition, this passage certainly would be a better starting point than the exegetical nightmare of Rom. 7:13ff.
My other reason for thinking that Paul's thought runs from solution to plight mainly has to do with the content of his proclamation. But since that entails something I want to talk about on Sunday I'm going to wait until then for its discussion.