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Faith and Justice:
A Platonic Reading of Pauline Justification

KALCHEIM, GABRIEL,LORD (2022) Faith and Justice:
A Platonic Reading of Pauline Justification.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Doctoral Dissertation) - Accepted Version


This dissertation is a broad work of philosophical theology that examines the Christian Doctrine of Justification by Faith in light of the Platonic framework for constructing ethics. Prescinding from specific Post-Reformation debates on justification, it seeks to position the philosophic problem of justification in terms of Platonism’s preoccupation with human assimilation to the Divine. It sets out the rich background of Platonism in the Christian tradition, including the heavily monotheistic Middle-Platonism. Relying much on the work of Lloyd Gerson, it lays down a schema of how understand Platonic ethics and Platonism more generally; and draws on the work of George Van Kooten in discerning Platonic motifs in Paul.
Through a reading of key Platonic dialogues, especially the Phaedrus, Symposium, and the Republic, the work discerns a schema of Platonic ethics as it relates to justification: the end of all human beings is likeness unto/harmonization with God, but this cannot happen without divine aid. Those who receive this divine aid, or ‘divine gift’ are philosophers, but the philosopher is no mere intellectual, but a lover of God, who lives by a kind of ‘faith that works by love’ (Gal 5:6). The philosopher is finally reconciled to God by the justification of his soul, which consists in the harmonization of his soul after the pattern of divine justice.
This schema for Platonic ethics is used as a heuristic tool for exegesis of Romans 1-6, and Galatians 2-3, 5. In Romans, the attempt is made to reconcile language in Romans 2, which speaks of every man being rewarded for his works, who ‘perseveres in doing good’ (2:7), and in Romans 3, which commends justification by faith ‘apart from the law’ (3:21). Platonic concepts concerning the nature of the just soul are used to help clarify the meaning of Christian justification. Paul’s critique of the Law in Galatians is understood against the background of Platonic themes on the inadequacy of written law to provide a complete moral guide. In Galatians, it is understood that Pauline justification is never through faith alone, but specifically by a faith, given by the Spirit, that works by Love (Gal 5-6). The primacy which Platonic ethics gives to divine gift, as the primary author of our love of God, and our striving to see Him, is therefore shown to prefigure the Pauline doctrine of Justification, which, nevertheless, can only be fully understood in light of Christian revelation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Platonic Ethics, Platonism, Plato, Middle Platonism, Paul, Justification, Romans, Galatians.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 May 2022 09:23

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