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date: 21 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Paul's understanding of divine 'grace' stands at the centre of recent debates concerning Paul's relationship to Second Temple Judaism and his adaptation of the benefactor ideologies of the Graeco-Roman world. After outlining the diversity of ways in which Jewish texts configure the benevolence of God, two distinctively Pauline features are highlighted: that the gift of God is enacted in the Christ-event, and that this gift is given without regard to the ethnic, moral, or social worth of its recipients. This incongruity matches Paul's own experience and his practice of the Gentile mission; it also shapes his understanding of Israel's history, past and future, while undergirding a social ethic for communities formed in the mutuality of gift-exchange. It is noted how the history of interpretation has tended to extend this Pauline theme, by 'perfecting' the theme of grace in a variety of additional ways.

Keywords: grace, gift, charis, theology, Judaism, Israel, ethics, covenantal nomism

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