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Pauline Studies: A Festschrift in Honor of Doug Moo

Categories New Testament

What’s the first clear message of Studies in the Pauline Epistles, the new festschrift in honor of Doug Moo?

Moo isn’t just a scholar. He’s also a gentleman.

In introducing the book, editors Matthew S. Harmon and Jay E. Smith quote 1 Cor. 4:1-2, where Paul outlines two categories he wants believers to use when thinking about ministers of the gospel: servants and stewards. “Doug Moo has proved himself to be a faithful servant of Christ and steward of God’s mysteries.” (16)

Harmon and Smith go on to list the countless ways he has proved himself: he has “prepared countless men and women for gospel ministry;” he is a “terrific mentor;” he “always push[es] his students to base their conclusions on solid evidence;” and Moo’s teaching and writing is distinguished by “the effort to present opposing views accurately and fairly.” (16)

A faithful servant of Christ and steward of God’s mysteries, indeed.

Perhaps the two most significant ways Moo has served and stewarded are in the fields of Bible translation and Pauline studies. Through a blend of contributions from sixteen former students, colleagues, and prominent Pauline scholars, Studies in the Pauline Epistles honors the contributions of a man by contributing to the ongoing scholarship in these two areas.

Here is but a brief sampling and interaction with this outstanding collection of scholars writing “as a tribute to Doug’s valuable contributions to New Testament studies.” (18)

Exegeting Paul

The first section honors Moo’s exegesis by gathering a collection of fellow exegetes: Ardel B. Caneday, Chris A. Vlachos, Jonathan A. Moo, Jay E. Smith, D. A. Carson, and Verlyn D. Verbrugge.

One role for which Moo is best known is as chair of the CBT, which stewards the NIV translation. In his essay, “Greek Grammar and the Translation of Philippians 2:12,” Verbrugge provides an interesting glimpse into not only Moo’s special role as CBT chair, but also some of the basic principles that have shaped the CBT’s translation work.

He summarizes these principles in this way:

translators must start with the specific words in the biblical text, then discuss what message these words communicated to the original audience, and finally put that same message into a contemporary Bible translation that communicates clearly and accurately with readers today. (115)

Verbrugge illustrates these principles through a passionate exegetical study on the grammatical use of the correlative conjunction οὐ μόνον/μὴ μόνον . . . ἀλλὰ καί—which mirrors Moo’s own passion for exegesis.

Paul’s Use of Scripture and the Jesus Tradition

The next section turns attention to Moo’s twin love of Paul and the gospels, honoring his scholarship through three voices: Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew S. Harmon, and Grant R. Osborne.

Bloomberg provides a fascinating examination of the quotations, allusions, and echoes of Jesus in Paul in his similarly titled essay. He begins by noting “The absence of direct quotations of the sayings of Jesus in the letters of Paul has fascinated scholars for generations.” (129)

After surveying the scholarship—with views ranging from nearly one thousand allusions to just three—he notes several passages with the clearest allusions to the Jesus tradition in the undisputed Pauline corpus: Rom 12:14, 17, 18; 13:7, 8-10; 14:14, 20; 1 Cor 6:2; 7:10-11; 8:13; 9:14; Phil 4:6; 1 Thess 4:15; 5:2; and 5:6. He goes on to explore possible echoes of the Jesus tradition, as well.

Blomberg notes Moo himself has commented on all of these passages in his commentaries, saying, “Moo’s comments are always cautious, judicious, and evenhanded.” (143)

Pauline Scholarship and His Contemporary Significance

The final section recognizes Moo’s contemporary contributions to Pauline scholarship with several Pauline heavyweights: Robert W. Yarbrough, G.K. Beale, James D. G. Dunn, Stephen Westerholm, N. T. Wright, Thomas R. Schreiner, and Mark A. Seifrid.

I can’t help but end this brief interaction with two essays outlining what’s right about the Old and New Perspectives on Paul by Dunn (former) and Westerholm (latter).

I chose these essays not only because the questions and respondents are unique, but because Moo is well known for his engagement with the New Perspective. While he is an advocate of the Old, “Doug has not been afraid to acknowledge points where the New Perspective has shed light on Paul and his letters.” (17)

As one of the most vocal proponent of the New Perspective, Dunn summarizes his answer to what’s right about the Old under three headings (214):

  1. Luther rediscovered the saving righteousness of God;
  2. He reasserted the fundamental role of faith in human relation with God;
  3. He reminded us that human beings cannot earn or achieve relationship with God by their own effort.

Dunn provides a cogent, concise discussion of these issues and their benefits, while providing analysis in light of NPP critiques, as well.

Westerholm follows Dunn by highlighting some of the virtues of the New Perspective by providing his own triplet:

  1. Sanders' depiction of Judaism of Paul’s day;
  2. Increased awareness of the social context in which Paul’s “justification” language was articulated;
  3. Social and ethnic dimensions have provided greater reflection on practical application of Paul’s doctrine.

While Westerholm questions whether or not a clear “winner” will ever emerge in this debate, he believes critics of NPP can be “grateful” for the above results of new perspective reflection. (242)


This is a worthy collection of essays honoring a worthy man. As the editors write of Moo and this book, “this volume is a small token of our gratitude to God for you, your faithful service to Christ, and your model of careful scholarship.” (18)

Add it to your library today, and thank God for this faithful servant of Christ and steward of God’s mysteries.

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