Grace and Agency in Paul and Second Temple Judaism

Interpreting the Transformation of the Heart


Following recent intertextual studies, Kyle B. Wells examines how descriptions of ‘heart-transformation’ in Deut 30, Jer 31–32 and Ezek 36 informed Paul and his contemporaries' articulations about grace and agency. Beyond advancing our understanding of how these restoration narratives were interpreted in the LXX, the Dead Sea Literature, Baruch, Jubilees, 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, and Philo, Wells demonstrates that while most Jews in this period did not set divine and human agency in competition with one another, their constructions differed markedly and this would have contributed to vehement disagreements among them. While not sui generis in every respect, Paul's own convictions about grace and agency appear radical due to the way he reconfigures these concepts in relation to Christ.

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Kyle B. Wells, Ph.D. (2010), University of Durham, is the Minister of Christ Presbyterian Church, Santa Barbara and frequently serves as adjunct professor at Westmont college.
"Well's arguments are convincing. For scholars reading the Scrolls and Paul as interlocutors, he provides helpful comparative study. In the grand scheme, Wells's work provides a blueprint for study that can make the Jewish Paul more intelligible, and that can make Second Temple Judaism, Scrolls included, more intelligible through Paul."
Carson Bay, Florida State University, Dead Sea Discoveries 24:1

"The author illuminates the teachings of Paul while placing them solidly in the context of Jewish literary traditions of the Second Temple period. He successfully answers the questions of where Paul differs from some of this Jewish interpreters [...]. In particular, the study is valuable in shedding light on how conceptions of moral competence, human transformation and divine agency are to be understood in some Jewish writings and in Paul as he reconstructs these conceptions in relation to Christ."
Svetlana Khobnya, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 38:5

Chapter 1. Introduction
PART I. Jewish Scriptures: Restorations Agency in Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel
Chapter 2. Deuteronomy 30: God and Israel in the Drama of Restoration
Chapter 3. Heart Transformation in the Prophets: Jeremiah and Ezekiel
PART II. Early Jewish Interpretation and Theology
Chapter 4. The Septuagint
Chapter 5. The Dead Sea Scrolls
Chapter 6. Restoration Agency in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
Chapter 7. Philo
Chapter 8. Paul’s Reading of Deuteronomy 30 in Romans 2:17–29
Chapter 9. Paul’s Reading of Restoration: Further Considerations
Chapter 10. Paul’s Reading of Restoration Outside Romans
PART IV. Conclusions
Paulinst, specialist in early Judaism, Graduate Students, University Libraries, Seminaries, and those generally interested in Pauline Theology, Biblical theology, divine and human agency, Grace, Gift Theory, and intertextuality.
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