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Watson is well known as a critic of the so-called New Perspective on Paul (NPP). His criticisms of the NPP are all the more significant as he received a positive endorsement of James D.G. Dunn (a NPP proponent) for his doctoral study. After the latter endorsement, Watson explored in particular the social-scientific work of Klaus Berger which contributed to Watson changing his mind dramatically about some results of his unpublished thesis. The result was Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: A Sociological Approach, which chronicles Watson's change of mind.
Watson's 2013 volume, Gospel Writing. A Canonical Approach, is his most voluminous study to date. Extensive critical review articles include those by Markus Bockmuehl and Richard Bauckham.
Ted Dorman suggests that for Watson, "hermeneutical sovereignty resides not in the text but in the subject matter to which it points" - namely, Jesus Christ.
Watson, Francis (1986). Paul, Judaism, and the gentiles: a sociological approach (Ph.D.). Cambridge: Cambridge University.
——— (1986). Paul, Judaism, and the gentiles: a sociological approach. Society for New Testament Studies - Monograph series. 56. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN9780521325738. OCLC13332626. - published form of his thesis