E.P. Sanders, in 1977, published the most influential book of the last fifty years: Paul and Palestinian Judaism. There has been all kinds of scuttlebutt about what a decade later Jimmy Dunn began to call the “new perspective.” And now Tom Wright has added another major voice and there you have it: the new perspective. But I have another operative principle in my life because of E.P. Sanders, and it has nothing to do with the interface of emerging Christianity and Judaism in the first century.
Long long ago I wrote a letter to him and asked if I could have breakfast or coffee with him at the annual SBL meeting. He wrote me and said, “Sure.” He gave me the name of his hotel and the name of the restaurant there.
So, I showed up (early, as is my custom). We ate and I asked and he answered and it was a delightful time. It gave me a new perspective on Sanders and it helped me make connections I had never made.
But, this is what I learned. When the bill came, I asked to pay and he said this very clearly and directly. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I make more money than you do, and so I want to pay for you. When you are older in your profession, you can do the same.”
And I have. Many times. It is my EP Sanders Principle of equity. It comes from 2 Cor 8:13-14. So that there might be “equity.”