What did St. Paul really mean?


In June 2012 Patrick457 started a thread in the Sacred Scripture Forum on “The New Perspective on Paul”. Recently I am getting interested in this topic and would like to ask, following the New Perspective on Paul “what did St. Paul really mean?”

This new perspective, developed by Protestants scholars, does not seem to conflict substantially with Catholic ideas, as far as I can see.

However what are Catholic views, if any, on this theory? Is there disagreement? Has the New Perspective (or Perspectives) been superseded?

I also want to thank CAF for all the help I have received in trying to build up my Catholic faith and I look forward to comments.



The “new” perspective has, by and large, been an internal debate among Protestant scholars. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox writers have generally responded favorably to new-perspective ideas, seeing both a greater commonality with their own beliefs and seeing strong similarities with the views of many of the early Church Fathers. From a Catholic point of view, the “new” perspective is seen as a step toward the progressive reality of human salvation in Christ. Moreover, passages in the works of many early Church Fathers show that new-perspective-style interpretations were widely held among them.


Could you find something on a Catholic site?
Wikipedia is only as good as it’s contributor.
Let’s both look around! :slight_smile:

Maybe EWTN, NewAdvent, I’ll think of some others…:shrug:


HA! I found this really old thread…


I’ll keep looking


I found a PDF. I’d normally quote from it, but it contains some seemingly anti-Protestant material, so I’ll just link it: brantpitre.com/download/attachment/7889


Bummer. Maybe the original OP will weigh in.



I see your post “Bummer. Maybe the original OP will weigh in.”

I am not sure what it means. I looked up ‘bummer’ and see it means a disappointing or unpleasant situation or experience - “the team’s relegation is a real bummer”. I see in North America it refers to loafer or vagrant - “baby doesn’t have to be a travel bummer”.

I suppose your comment may be a gentle criticism.

You ask me, the OP, to weigh in. This sounds like you consider me an over-weight Dominican.

I am reminded of Churchill who claimed that the British and Americans were two people separated by a common language. Maybe being Irish I fit in with the British.


No no no…dear one!
I mean Patrick, who had the LAST thread you referenced on the subject!
So sorry for the confusion.
Peace!!! LOL
I’m married to a man from County Mayo. I certainly LOVE the Irish.

Bummer refers to not being able to find you any good info



Thank you for the web-site you sent me.

I found it very interesting and am studying it carefully.

I see Dr Brant Pitre works in Notre Dame. But it is N D Seminary New Orleans, however he got his PhD from N D Indiana and was a visiting professor there.

The article seems to mention headings rather than discussing issues. So far I see traditional conservative Protestants are not too happy with NPP, this may be no bad thing.

To understand Dr Pitre’s views fully I think I would need a greater understanding of my own faith, and for me to try to understand Catholicism better also is no bad thing.

I hope to reply in more detail to you when I have studied more deeply.

[P: Pianistclare, many thanks for your most recent post. I hope You were not upset by me. NF]



I see you found a really old thread with a post from 21 June 2009’. I think a poster, noelfitz, made some valid points. It seems I, Oops he, is still interested in the NPP, but has not learned much.

Reading the post I am reminded of “The King and I”

‘Very often find confusion
In conclusion, I concluded long ago’.



I have now finished reading/studying Dr Pitre’s article.

The first half is the criticism of the NPP from a conservative Protestant view. You may not be surprised to learn Catholics would not agree with these Protestant views.

Then he seems to wander off the point by discussing the conclusions of the Council of Trent.

There is a need to define terms. Justification and sanctification are not clearly defined, as far as I can determine
However the NPP seems very like traditional Catholic teaching. NPP holds there are two positions, the first becoming a member of God’s people through faith (in Catholic terms prevenient grace) the second is remaining there, and for both NPP folk and Catholics this requires living well.



I took the liberty of asking Patrick if he had any more links. :wink:


I’m here. Sorry, I’m just so busy right now - I think I’ll take a bit of time before I come up with something.


I blame the Calvinists for other protestants believing that “faith alone” was a logical interpretation of scripture. Unfortunately I was raised in evangelical and Calvinist households, both of which firmly believed in “faith alone.”

I appreciate the fact that non-Progressive Christians are willing to “evolve” in their faith when presented with new information. Seems to not happen often, but it’s nice to see when it does. Of course Calvinists will never accept this, because then their entire religion would fall apart. :smiley:


This looks like an excerpt or outline for a talk. Where did you get this? I would be curious if there is a talk that corresponds to it.


“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”

― Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard


Much, much more truth here than false…alas…


Oh, I found it!



For a good understanding of Paul I think you will find these audiences of Pope Benedict XVI interesting…





Series from the Year of St. Paul













Faith and works in these two:












many thanks. I am reading, and I hope learning from, the talks by B XVI.


Thanks for all comments. The NPP is no longer new and seems to reflect traditional Catholic teaching. First comes prevenient grace when God calls us. This does not depend on our works , but is fully God’s free gift. After this we obey God and remain in his favour.

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