I have reviewed John Barclay’s outstanding new book, Paul & the Gift, over on Reformation21.
This anthropological treatment of ancient and modern understandings of gift paves the way for Barclay’s central thesis: gift/grace is a concept that can legitimately be ‘perfected’–drawn out into some pure or ultimate form–in a number of ways. No perfection of grace should be regarded as its sine qua non, nor is it the case that the more perfections we have the better off we are. He enumerates six perfections of the gift, which provide the basis for a taxonomy of theologies of grace:
- superabundance: the supreme scale, lavishness, or permanence of the gift;
- singularity: the attitude of the giver as marked solely and purely by benevolence;
- priority: the timing of the gift before the recipient’s initiative;
- incongruity: the distribution of the gift without regard to the worth of…
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