The grammar of the gospel: justification as a theological criterion in the Reformation and in Paul's letter to the Galatians

25 Jan 2018

Since at least the time of Albert Schweitzer's attempt to move justification from die Mitte to the margins, the question of the centre of Paul's theology has included a criticism of the Reformation's classification of justification as ‘the lord, ruler, and judge’ of theology. For the reformers, however, this designation is not so much a claim about the centrality of the vocabulary of justification as it is a claim about the grammar of the gospel: justification, because it is articulated as an antithesis, says both what the gospel is not and what the gospel is. With this understanding of the theological function of justification in view, the role of justification in Paul's letter to the Galatians can be reconsidered: the antithetical grammar of justification is a critical and hermeneutical criterion in Galatians, both identifying and negating the ‘other gospel’ even as it picks out and proclaims ‘the gospel of Christ’.