Simone Weil’s interpretation of the Iliad as a “poem of force” has resonances with Rom 1–8, reinforcing the question of how Rom 13:1–7 belongs in the larger argument of Romans. Seeking a generous reading of 13:1–7 along the lines of the generosity Weil extends to the Iliad, I first take Pharaoh as an example of Paul’s understanding of the relationship between God and human rulers and then propose that Paul’s treatment of human rulers coheres with his refusal in this letter to reify lines between “insider” and “outsider.” I conclude with a reflection on the need for generosity in scholarly research and pedagogy.
In addition to Boccaccini and Segovia’s Paul the Jew, inbox recently saw the arrival from Fortress Press of a review copy of Rafael Rodríguez and Matthew Thiessen’s edited volume The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (2016). According to the book’s blurb:
Decades ago, Werner G. Kümmel described the historical problem of Romans as its “double character”: concerned with issues of Torah and the destiny of Israel, the letter is explicitly addressed not to Jews but to Gentiles. At stake in the numerous answers given to that question is nothing less than the purpose of Paul’s most important letter. In The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, nine Pauline scholars focus their attention on the rhetoric of diatribe and characterization in the opening chapters of the letter, asking what Paul means by the “so-called Jew” in Romans 2 and where else in the letter’s argumentation that figure appears or is implied. Each component of Paul’s argument is closely examined with particular attention to the theological problems that arise in each.
I’m looking forward to working through the text and reviewing it for the Stone-Campbell Journal.
I recently also had the privilege of reviewing Rafael’s prior If You Call Yourself a Jew: Reappraising Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Wipf & Stock, 2014). I very much appreciate the argument that Rafael brings out in that volume. Rafael has very kindly received the review, though he rightly notes some lingering questions that tend to make me lean in a bit different direction. But, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what in the new Fortress volume may speak to those or other related matters. As H.-G. Gadamer reflects,
We say we “conduct” a conversation, but the more genuine a conversation is, the less its conduct lies within the will of either partner. Thus a genuine conversation is never the one that we wanted to conduct. Rather, it is generally more correct to say that we fall into conversation, or even that we become involved in it. The way one word follows another, with the conversation taking its own twists and reaching its own conclusion, may well be conducted in some way, but the partners conversing are far less leaders of it than the led. (Truth and Method, 401; underlining added)
One of the new titles in the recent Baker catalog (due for release this month) is Matthew Bates’s Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King. According to Michael Bird’s blurb,
Matthew Bates argues that faith or believing is not mere assent, not easy believism, but covenantal loyalty to the God who saves his people through the Lord Jesus Christ. Bates forces us to rethink the meaning of faith, the gospel, and works with a view to demonstrating their significance for true Christian discipleship. This will be a controversial book, but perhaps it is the controversy we need!
I haven’t read the volume yet, and the book’s apparent thesis will doubtless be controversial in some quarters as Bird suggests. But, this thesis is also something that definitely resembles prior thinking.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer had the formulation “only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes”—because believing is a response to an announcement that has the nature of a command (Cost of Discipleship, 69–70). Or, as Augustine suggested, the notion of faith may have two aspects:
We use the word in one sense when we say, “He had no faith in me,” and in another sense when we say, “He did not keep faith with me.” The one phrase means, “He did not believe what I said;” the other, “He did not do what he promised.” (On the Spirit and the Letter 31.54)
Or, indeed, in Romans, as sometimes is bypassed all too easily, part of Paul’s portrait of Abraham is precisely that his faith was also obedient: Abraham becomes the father not only of individuals within the scope of his biological descendants, but to all “those follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while he was uncircumcised” (Rom 4:12; τοῖς στοιχοῦσιν τοῖς ἴχνεσιν τῆς ἐν ἀκροβυστίᾳ πίστεως τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἀβραάμ; cf. Rom 1:5, 3:31; Dunn, Romans, 211–12).
Recently, SBL Press clarified its guidance about citing J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia Latina based on the discovery that various year’s printings of certain volumes within Patrologia Latina have differences. Among these differences are variations in the column arrangements for the texts contained in Patrologia Latina. The Press’s initial recommendation was that
authors always check a PL volume title page to ensure that the printing is dated 1865 or earlier. If the publication or printing date is 1868 or later, we encourage authors to find an earlier printing of PL to cite.
The Press has subsequently “discovered that there are also variations between Migne’s original editions and his own later reprintings prior to transferring the rights to Garnier.” Consequently, the Press’s new recommendation is that
authors always check a PL volume title page to ensure that the printing is dated 1855 or earlier. If the publication or printing date is 1857 or later, we encourage authors to find the original printing of PL to cite. (underlining added)
As a further curiosity in this complex discussion, I noticed earlier today that James Dunn’s Word Biblical Commentary volume on Romans refers to the same testimony by Ambrosiaster as I went in search of the week before last (xlviii). Elsewhere, Dunn’s introduction copiously indexes its discussion to relevant primary literature. But, on Ambrosiaster’s comment, one is simply told
(text in SH [Sanday and Headlam], xxv–xxvi, and Cranfield, 20)
Sanday and Headlam refer to Ballerini’s edition of Ambrosiaster rather than to Migne’s, as does Cranfield. But, one wonders if the indirect citation of Ambrosiaster through these other authors derives, at least in part, from dynamics like those here that make the references of previous scholars rather more obscure.
The latest issue of the Bulletin for Biblical Research recently arrived and contains:
- John C. Poirier, “An Ontological Definition of ‘Canon’?”
- Jason S. DeRouchie, “The Heart of YHWH and His Chosen One in 1 Samuel 13:14”
- Richard Whitekettle, “Like a Fish and Shrimp Out of Water: Identifying the Dāg and Remeś Animals of Habakkuk 1:14″
- E. Ray Clendenen, “Salvation by Faith or by Faithfulness in the Book of Habakkuk?”
- Preston M. Sprinkle, “Romans 1 and Homosexuality: A Critical Review of James Brownson’s Bible, Gender, Sexuality“
Rob Bradshaw has collected John Pitman’s 13-volume set of John Lightfoot’s works. Among other things, Lightfoot’s works include a series of “Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations” on Matthew–1 Corinthians (i.e., discussions of texts in light of select Talmudic and other Jewish literary parallels). Via a convenient master table of contents page, the set is available in one PDF file per printed volume.
The latest Bloomsbury Highlights notes the newly available volume 16 in the T&T Clark Jewish and Christian Texts Series. The volume is a revision of my 2011 dissertation at Southeastern Seminary and primarily explores paradigmatic, or presuppositional, aspects of the hermeneutics at play in Romans and some of the Qumran sectarian texts.
Stanley Porter and Hughson Ong have the latest article in the Journal of Greco-Roman Judaism and Christianity: “‘Standard of Faith’ or ‘Measure of Trusteeship’?: A Study in Romans 12.3—A Response.” The article’s opening paragraph explains its responsive character and general argument as follows:
John Goodrich has recently published an article regarding the interpretation of μέτρον πίστεως in Rom. 12.3 in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly. We have tried to respond to his article in that journal, but regrettably, the journal does not publish responses to articles, although we think that Goodrich’s article warrants a response. Goodrich argued ‘that μέτρον πίστεως in Rom 12:3 refers to the believer’s charism, addressed shortly and explicitly thereafter in 12:6’ (p. 753). Against the typical view that takes μέτρον πίστεως as ‘standard/measure of faith’, he proposes that this charism should be seen as ‘a trusteeship’ God grants to each believer. Specifically, the genitive construction in μέτρον πίστεως, regarded as appositive, is ‘a measure, namely a trusteeship’ (pp. 769, 772). This old alternative that Goodrich seeks to revive, however, poses some significant problems that can be neither resolved nor sustained by the arguments and evidence he marshals in this article. We assess critically each of these in what follows, followed by our own interpretation of μέτρον πίστεως in Rom. 12.3. (97)
For the full article, please see here.