Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Tripartite Law - N. T. Wright

Precisely because of the emphasis on the unique accomplishments of Jesus Christ, the Old Testament could not continue to have exactly the same role within the Christian community that it had had before. . . . From the start, in the ministry of Jesus and the work of Paul, we find constant reference to the fact that with the fulfillment comes a new moment in the story, a new act in the play. Heavy-handed schemes such as those of Marcion and the theologically cognate ones of some Reformers do no justice to the sophisticated early Christian sense of continuing to live under the whole scripture, albeit in this multi-layered manner. Nor, for that matter, do the pragmatic, rule-of-thumb conclusions of some other writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who saw the "civil" and "ceremonial" laws being abolished while the "moral" ones remained, ignoring the fact that most ancient Jews would not have recognized such a distinction.

found in N. T. Wright, The Last Word (New York: HarperOne, 2005), 56-7.

As I have been reading N. T. Wright, I came upon this quote and it reminded me of a series I did back in 2008. Here is a link to the "Final thoughts" post which has links to all the posts in the series. Hope it is helpful.


Dan Allen said...


While in bible College I heard the 3 way division of the Law stated as fact; when I asked where it came from some people said Calvin and the reformers but no one said from the Scripture itself. The biggest issue that this brings up for me is: under what authoritative rule can we put each specific "Law" in each category? It seems like someone just cuts each little Law out and puts them into one of three bags as they see fit, but why and how do they know which Law goes in which bag? This is a really important question if we say "these two bags can be thrown out, but this bag has to be held on to." This is something I have always wondered about.



Maël said...

You are right Dan, and that is the underlying issue with this: who decides and how do they decide.

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