- Defining The Issues:
Following is an excerpt from the book titled By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Cornelis P. Venema, p. 51-52:
"Whatever the diversity of teaching and practice within the various branches of Second Temple Judaism, few, if any, practiced a religion that was the equivalent of a kind of "pulling oneself up to God by one's moral bootstraps." However, the obvious weakness in Wright's insistence that this requires a new view of Paul's teaching on justification is that he (and other New perspective writers) does not seriously consider whether covenantal nomism could accommodate a form of religious teaching that regards acceptance with God to be based upon grace plus good works."
This commentary by Dr. Ben Witherington is relevant to the discussion on whether or not first century Judaism was performance oriented:
"Not merely in 4 Ezra but also 2 Enoch it seems clear enough that we have what could be called a works righteousness based on law-keeping such that there is a post-mortem judgment based on the deeds done in this life—resulting in rewards and punishments. Interestingly in Jubilees while ‘getting in’ may well be on the basis of election, staying in and final salvation is said to be on the basis of obedience to the Law. In 2 Baruch God bestows mercy on those who keep the Law, the ones called the righteous. In these same sources when God’s righteousness is discussed it is not a cipher for God’s covenantal faithfulness, but rather has to do with his just judging or ruling."