“Romans” in @FortressPress Commentary on the Bible: The New Testament

Romans is one of the most difficult New Testament books. It has started Reformations and continues to plague us as the artificer of poor readings today. I am always interested in seeing how Romans is presented… and as my readers know, I believe Romans is a rhetorical set piece designed to represent a dialogue between Paul and his imaginary interlocutor, whereby Paul is able to give his message as an explanation rather than a set of points.

First, the introduction includes a reference to Stanley Stowers and his “Rereading Romans.” Yet, nothing is mentioned about the scholarship on rhetorical practices involved in the letter. The author, Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, does mention rhetoric, not as a form of discourse so much as a figure of speech. Douglas Campbell is nowhere mentioned, yet his proposals (and mine, although mine is only blogged) are central to the author’s presentation of Romans 1.18-3.31. Kittredge correctly notes that the “clobber passage” at the end of chapter 1 is Jewish agitprop against Gentiles and that Paul’s “you” in 2.1 is directed against them for this. In speaking about homosexuality, she doesn’t shy from the surface level statements but does offer a way around it by tackling “natural theology.”

If I read the passage the same as Kittredge (admittedly, I am close), I still would not buy her argument about Natural Theology; however, I believe she approaches this with unbiasedness and an admission that she understands why. It is, frankly, a pleasant read.

I have found a solid “New Perspective” throughout the chapter on Romans, much to my likely. Also included are connections (because they are there) between Paul’s Romans and the Empire.

Over all, I am impressed with what Kittredge gets right and could quibble over the rest — especially in reading Romans through a particular viewpoint. If anything, the sections may be too large I would like to have seen 1.18-3.31 divided up, as well as Romans 13-14.

 

On γαρ’d: touché

Here’s the full paper from the HBU Theology Conference. To be read at SBL2014.

 

Some thoughts of the Lexham High Definition New Testament @logosacademic

I can’t tell you why, yet, but I’ve suddenly become interested in highlighting the High Definition series from Logos. This series builds upon the Discourse series, both by Steve Runge, the scholar in residence at Logos.

I want to briefly highlight, as a primer, the Lexham High Definition New Testament (based on the ESV) module available now from Logos.

Now for the first time, the nuances of discourse grammar are marked in your Logos Bible Software English Standard Version New Testament to expose the subtleties of the Greek text. Without formal Greek or Hebrew training, you can:

  • Enhance your understanding of the original authorial intent
  • Restore the subtleties of tone and stress “lost in translation
  • Learn to distinguish among backgrounded information, major and minor points in the text
  • Apply the proper emphasis in public reading and teaching of Scripture!

See the link above for a fuller explanation.

This is what it looks like on my iPad:

20140207-090855.jpg

I’ve split the screen to show Romans 1 in the hi-def NT as well as the glossary volume.

What is different about this, say from other versions attempting to show emphasis? It uses rhetoric as a basis. Notice that on the left of the image is a diagram showing the points of the structure. One of the errors of modern readers is to read Romans as if Paul is monotone. This helps to break that up. Let me show you some more from the inside:

20140207-100414.jpg

One of the neater things about Logos is that when I make a note on one translation, it carries it over to others. Here, I am commenting about Augustine’s use of this verse in the proper context.

20140207-100423.jpg

I work with the presupposition Paul is an accomplished rhetorician. Thus, when he makes dramatic shifts in his “speech” they are noteworthy. You miss that if you simply read it dry. Here, Runge is pointing out that SOMETHING HAS CHANGED SO TAKE NOTE, DEAR READER!

20140207-100432.jpg

I’ve highlighted a few of the particulars to show you what pops up.

20140207-100443.jpg

Notice verse 10. Here, there is a rejoinder to .10a. “There is none righteous!” the leader says. “No, no one” the congregation enjoins. And also with your spirit.

As you know, I have an issue in the way Romans is read because I believe Paul is writing in a certain style, a style detectable if one understands a specific rhetoric as well as acknowledge Paul’s context here. Having the High Definition New Testament is great because it calls us to step back and read it in such a way as to consider we, in fact, did not write it, but someone else — someone else with intentions, purpose, and a specific message — did.

One day, after phd work, I’d like to work on a specific monograph on Romans. This is going to start, and urge me on, in that process. Runge’s work, as much as Campbell and a select few others, is serving to show Paul’s intentional rhetoric and must not be missed if you really want to hear what the Apostle is saying.

Enhanced by Zemanta

is this how you describe the “framework” of Romans? (HT: @ivpress)

English: page with text of Epistle to the Roma...

English: page with text of Epistle to the Romans 1:1-7 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IVP Books recently published a book titled, Frameworks, How to Navigate the New Testament by Eric Larson.

Frameworks is a fresh, innovative and groundbreaking survey of the New Testament that combines compelling stories, brilliant images and simple illustrations (maps, charts) to create context (conceptual frameworks) that guide you through the Bible.

Presented in an attractive, less-is-more format with lots of refreshing white space, this book will help you navigate your way through the twists and turns of the New Testament by helping you answer ten questions for each of the 27 New Testament books…

On the IVP facebook, they released a photo of Romans (always the best book to highlight).

There is a lot of discussion (or maybe I just heard some at SBL) about the nature of Romans and Paul’s possible use of rhetoric. For those who engage/use rhetorical criticism of the New Testament, Romans is a rhetorical piece, although there are disagreements as to how much and to what type of rhetoric is used. Stanley Stowers sees it as a protreptic letter aimed at introducing Paul to a new audience. He sees a use of the rhetoric apostrophe as well. I, as I have posted before, agree with Stowers in a broad manner. I believe Paul is using the protreptic style to writer Romans, but so too the rhetorical προσωποποιία (prosopopoeia) to do so. Paul has written Romans is a dramatic fashion where he stands as the pro-Gentile Jew against the anti-Gentile Jew as well as the Jew (parent) who must remind the Gentile (child) of Israel’s place in God’s salvation history.

All of this is done to introduce Paul to a new audience and contains, I believe, every bit of Paul’s theology. However, it must be read the correct way, else we are left with theological positions Paul actually argued against.

I have not yet read Larson’s book, so I am simply going off the picture. I disagree, strongly, that chapters 9-11 are about our rejection of God, but rather are a reminder of God’s continued covenant with Israel. His chapter setting in 1-3 is also trouble, or rather, too broad. I do not think Paul is simply arguing we all need salvation, but rather, Paul argues that salvation is given to all, an argument reaching a zenith in chapter 5. To note, his categorization of chapters 12-16 are okay.

My point is, besides highlighting this book which looks great for small groups, is to suggest Romans needs a better framework. In private discussions with a reader of this blog, I’ve seen one. He has taken some of the work I put forth and went through Romans in such a way as to show a complete dialogue within the entire book. This is only the first step, as once you fully establish how to read Romans, then you will need to decipher what, if anything, this means to current discussions on justification, universalism, and covenants.

Jim is going to disagree, of course.

Also, be sure to check out Larson’s book.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Latest on @HuffPostRelig – Romans 1.26-7

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United States Library of Congress, demonstrating printed pages as a storage medium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, this is not everyone’s cup o’tea and some may disagree. That’s fine. Let’s talk.

The Bible ‘Says’ Homosexuality Is a Sin? | Joel L. Watts.

I referred to a previous post that I *think is supported by a recent post by Dagesh.

Paul is not speaking about homosexuality, but about judging others as unsavable. The detractor (created) was arguing against the salvation of Gentiles, not sinners in general, but Gentiles.

Anyway, there you go.

For those who do not get the point of a HuffPost op-ed, it is not a full-blown academic article, but a short (no more than 1000 words) piece. So, it has to be short, sweet, and to the point, Beau. 

Related Articles:

Enhanced by Zemanta

On γαρ’d

Douglas Campbell’s Deliverance of God has generated lots of discussion, especially on Romans 1:18-32. The γαρ in 1:18 has been a problem for interpreters long before Campbell came to it. But Campbell’s work is making folks take another look at the particle in this verse.

Koine “traditionalists” (is there a better word?) assert that γαρ is a discourse connector which logically joins two parts of a discourse, normally in an explanatory way.  This sense is typically translated “therefore”. Example: I have a broken leg, therefore I will not be playing football. If one only reads the NT, then clearly this is the most frequent usage.

But there is other Greek literature out there. Consider Euripides’ Bacchae. In places like lines 477, 483, and 612, γαρ is used to signal a switch in speaker (like from Dionysus to Pentheus or the Chorus leader to Dionysus). This is evidence for how the particle could function in rhetoric, particularly in a Socratic dialogue. To be fair, just because Euripides used γαρ this way sometimes does not automatically mean that’s what Paul did in Romans 1:18. However, it is evidence that I don’t see many people consider before they dismiss it. A better question for the traditionalists might be Why can’t the γαρ in Romans 1:18 indicate a speaker change?

In addition to Euripides, there’s biblical evidence as well. Consider the translation Greek of the LXX. In Job, when he converses with his “friends”, γαρ is twice used in a change of speaker (Job 6:2; 25:2). Also, by my count there are over 45 instances of γαρ symbolizing a speaker change in LXX Isaiah (tweet me if you want the list and begin discussing who is speaking where in Isaiah). (Maybe this requires an intro to the various voices in Isaiah, but…) One of the clearest examples is Cyrus talking to Yahweh in Isa 45:15— συ γαρ ει θεος, και ουκ ηδειμεν, ο θεος του Ισραηλ σωτηρ (You are the God people cannot see. You are the God who saves Israel. ERV)

Long story short: γαρ is a very small form that gets used in lots of contexts. Identifying what the form means from context-to-context should be determined by those contexts, not by a lexicographic straight-jacket.

So does the γαρ in Romans 1:18 signal a switch from Paul’s voice to the Teacher’s voice? I think the evidence suggests so.

@DageshForte

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Paul’s use of Isaiah in Romans

A direct quote is not intertextuality, in my humble open. It is a quote. It is not an allusion, because it not hidden. It is a quote. However, in studying Romans, the exegete must have studied for some time the books of Deuteronomy and Isaiah. Found this and thought it would be useful…

Tom Holland says:1

Paul not only quoted from Isaiah many more times than all of the other prophets put together, but he actually used the prophet’s writings as the skeleton of his gospel. He took the quotations and arranged them in such a way as to outline the history of salvation, from the Fall of man to the eventual establishment of the messianic kingdom. Around these quotations he built his argument. The full import of this fact is only appreciated when the quotations are listed in the order they are used and read in that same sequence. What it shows is that if the letter is laid out as a continuous papyrus, and the citations from Isaiah were raised out of the text and suspended at their point of use, those texts, in that order, summarise the whole of salvation history. Such a pattern could not be anything but intentional.

The cited texts of Romans.

We follow the Isaianic texts Paul cited in the order that he used them:

“As it is written ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’” (Romans 2:24: Isaiah 52:5, LXX).

“Their feet are swift to she d blood: ruin and misery mark their paths and the way of peace they have not known”(Romans 3:15-17: Isaiah 59:7-8).

“Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the Israelites should be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality’. It is just as Isaiah had said previously” (Romans 9:27-28:Isaiah 10:22-23, LXX).

“Just as Isaiah said previously, ‘Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been like Gomorrah’” (Romans 9:29;Isaiah 1:9, LXX).

“As it is written,’ See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall’” (Romans 9:33a; Isaiah 8:14).

“and ‘the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame’” (Romans 9:33; Isaiah 28:16, LXX).

“As the Scripture says. ‘He who believes in him will not be disappointed’” (Romans 10:11;Isaiah 52:7, LXX).

“As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:15; Isaiah 52:7).

“For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message’”? (Romans 10.16; Isaiah 53:1,LXX).

“And Isaiah boldly says, ‘I was found by those who did not seek me, I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me’” (Romans 10:20; Isaiah 29:10, LXX).

“What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not attain, but the elect did. The others were hardened as it is written: ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day’” ( Romans 11:7-8; Isaiah 29:10).

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, ‘there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins’” (Romans 11:26-27; Isaiah 59:20-21, LXX).

“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor” (Romans 11:34;Isaiah 40:13, LXX).

“For it is written, ‘As I live, sayeth the Lord’” ( Romans 14:11a; Isaiah 49:18).

“Every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11b;Isaiah 45:23, LXX).

“And again, Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him’” (Romans 15:12; Isaiah 11:10, LXX).

“Rather, as it is written, ‘Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand’” (Romans 15:21; Isaiah 52:15, LXX).

These passages show the perspective which Paul had in regard to salvation history. It was that of the evangelical prophet. The quotations work systematically through the various stages of the development of the purposes of God in the salvation of Mankind.

Israel has not responded to her calling, she has acted like the other nations (Romans 2:24;Isaiah 52:5: Romans 3:15-17; Isaiah 59:7-8).

God’s purpose is to show his faithfulness to his promises by saving a remnant. (Romans 9:27-29; Isaiah 10:22-23).
God will appoint a saviour, for both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 9:33; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16:Romans 10:11: Isaiah 8:16). Notice how Paul stresses the universality of Christ’s salvation as he follows up the quotation of Isaiah 28:16 with: “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’”.

Paul then goes on to speak of the church’s responsibility to declare the salvation of God, as it had been fulfilled by the remnant in the previous age ( Romans 10:15; Isaiah 52:7).

But there would be the same response of unbelief to the gospel message ( Romans 10:16;Isaiah 53:1).

Even so, the electing purposes of God would not be overturned by the sinfulness of Man. What he purposes he will achieve (Romans 10:22; Isaiah 65:1; Romans 10:21; Isaiah 65:2;Romans 11:8; Isaiah 29:10).

God’s purposes will be fulfilled, and all Israel, as Paul has already defined her (Romans 4:11-12), will be saved (Romans 11:26-27; Isaiah 59:20-21).

All of this is beyond man’s design, it is of God alone (Romans 11:33-34; Isaiah 40:13).

The salvation promised to Abraham, in which the nations are to share in the covenant blessings, will finally be fulfilled. Those who were never part of the people of God have come into the eschatological community. (Romans 15:21; Isaiah 52:15)2

  1. Tom Holland, Contours of Pauline Theology. Chapter 2 : Paul and the Prophets, Pg 31
  2. Ibid, Pgs 31-33

@Steve_Runge should be flogged, flayed, and foot roasted @logos @academiclogos

I had the pleasure of having a meal with Steve Runge at SBL this past year (2012). He is a true delight of a scholar, and what’s more, I like his work.

Before SBL, he had sent along a pdf copy of the introduction to his new Lexham Discourse Handbook on Romans.

From Logos:

The Lexham Discourse Handbook: Romans guides readers through the Greek text, integrating insights from the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament and Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Runge explains how the various discourse devices each contribute to the overall flow and structure of the book by providing a unifying analysis of the text. His approach complements traditional approaches by helping readers understand the exegetical implications of the writer’s choices. The handbook offers sustained commentary on the text, but does not engage issues like background, setting, and audience that preoccupy traditional commentaries. Instead, Runge applies his years of research in discourse grammar to a running exegesis of the Greek. If you have been disappointed by the lack of discussion about structure, discourse flow, and rhetorical strategies in modern commentaries, then the Lexham Discourse Handbook: Romans is for you.

It is currently in pre-order, by the way — so go buy it.

Anyway, since my classwork is now down, I had time to sit down and read it via the Goodreader app on my iPad. I was severely disappointed. Severely.

PaulT

Look at Paul… He has no clue what he is doing… And is that Greek? Everyone knows he wrote in the King’s English.

I was disappointed because it ended at verse 15. I wanted more, and not like the Twihards or Fanboys, but like I wanted to know what is revealed next. And there I was, late at night, with the project’s completion too far distant….

From what I can read of the work, it is going to be a fantastic volume in the Discourse Grammar series. So, go… pre-order it.

NOW

A few things, however — and these are not concerns — but I wonder what he will do with the Stowers’ identified apostrophe and prosopopoeia? The basic premise of the discourse grammar is that the author of the Text has some choice in his meaning. In other words, he wrote with a purpose. In Greek, Runge assures us, there are hallmarks of this connexion long absent in English. Indeed, look at your translations now. You know full well that verses and chapters, while helpful, are equally if not more so harmful in breaking up the Text.

Anyway, this is the pdf with such highlights and brief notes: Romans LDH (Runge) – Annotated (Watts)

But, Romans 1.26-27 isn’t about Creation or Homosexuality…

If Romans 1 is accepted as having a clear echo of the creation story, then on a very foundational level we need to recognise that God is imaged by both male and female…

via Anglicans, Rom 1:26-27, and Homosexuality.

The book looks great, but I wanted to comment on this one little bit.

Romans 1.26-27 MUST BE LEFT OUT of the debate on homosexuality from the perspective that it is Paul’s own words.

Paul actually condemns the statements made in this section of Romans.

Romans 6-8, Contra Stowers

I’m not going to lie. This was the most difficult paper to do. This is a rough draft, and will forever be so. I simply ran out of time – MY FAULT – but as I do with most of everything I write, you can see it and pick it apart. 

The tome of Paul’s rhetorical theology is to be found in his Epistle to the Romans. This protreptic piece is dedicated to establishing Paul as a leading Christian sophist on his way to the city from which he will work his way unto Spain (15.24-28), a mission trip which the New Testament and history, does not afford a success. This seminal work of the many Christian apologists and detractors stands as a monument to Paul’s rhetorical genius, if only we are allowed to peer below the surface of his writing. This paper will explore as in a general direction Paul’s use of rhetoric in Romans, but focus on Romans 6-8 as an unit of dialogue set in a mild form of prosopopoeia while utilizing other rhetorical devices which is meant to allow an elaboration of his initial argument on justification for his intended rather Jewish audience, an identification which is opposed by the rhetorical critic Stanley K. Stowers who reads Romans 5-8 as a unit devoted to the Gentiles while pointedly avoiding defining such concepts as baptism, works of the law, and engaging in theological discussions. I will critique his argument to show that the rhetorical unit under examination is still devoted to a predominantly Jewish audience whom Paul is attempting to reach through rhetorical devices, and indeed, unlike Stowers’ limitation of certain rhetorical devices to chapters 2 and 7, Paul is continuously in dialogue with his Jewish audience and the anti-Gentile polemics of his day in, at the very least, the first half of the Epistle to the Romans.

After establishing Romans 6-8 as a rhetorical unit, or perhaps a paraenesis if Stowers is correct (23)[1], I will first note several of Stanley K. Stowers’ criticism on the section of Romans under this study in which he attempts to solidify that Paul is indeed speaking to a Gentiles audience. From there, I will seek to answer several of the points raised by Stowers and attempt to show why in fact the unit could have been written to Jews, if not exclusively so, which is more of a probability than having Paul, who began the letter with a reference to the lineage of King David, suddenly switch without any hallmarks of having done so, to speaking to Gentiles. Following this, my goal is to establish two rhetorical structures, which coincide with one another, by which to examine Romans 6-8, while providing some rhetorical background to Paul’s cognitive environment. It is not my intention to delve into the debate of justification, grace, works of the law, and baptism, hoping only to establish that Paul was speaking to a highly educated Jewish audience using familiar rhetorical devices prevalent in his day.

Stowers separates Romans 5-8 as a subsection the rest of the work while Neil Elliot cites 6-8.13 as a rhetorical unit. For the purpose of this paper, I will recognize 6-8 as a separate rhetorical united within a greater framework which Paul is using. I do not include 5 due to the fact that it which seems to stand as both an epilogue and a prologue, uniting 1-4 and 6-8. The first part of chapter 5 is focused more on Christological functions in that Christ is the antithesis of Adam, which furthers Paul’s figures in the previous chapters of Romans while the second part of that chapter begins Paul’s work on justification. For rhetorical purposes, Romans 6-8 is a unit which proceeds from the latter portion of chapter 5 but can stand by itself. I also note that Romans 6 and 8 serve as literary bookends. In 6.1-14, there is a contrast between the sinner and the resurrected believer; 8.1-13 compares the flesh and the spirit, as I mention later, and while this seems to be a natural end of the unit (at verse 13), the remainder of chapter 8 can serve as an epilogue to the entire unit allowing a recapitulation of the thought so far, and especially of the thoughts in 6-8. Further, the question asked in 6.1 is ultimately answered in 8.13. Finally, 6-8 presents a “syllogistic progression,[2]” or ratiocinatio, which builds upon each premise another, to fully expound Paul’s thought on justification in totality[3].

Like most rhetorical critics, Stowers begins Paul’s use of the speech-in-character rhetorical device, prosopopoeia, in chapter 2 and ends it near the beginning of chapter 5. Stowers writes, “One thing that does not continue is dialogue with the teacher. He does not reappear in 5-8.” (Stowers:252), but I contend that this in an inadequate beginning and because of this failure to note the actual beginning, the balance of Paul’s letter has been thrown off leading Stowers and others to miss the intended audience of Romans 6-8. Instead of the apostrophe beginning in chapter 2, Paul’s use of this device begins in Romans 1.16 in which we find the word γὰρ, “a conjunction basically introducing an explanation.[4]” As scholars have noted, “there is a change of voice here and lasts until 1.32[5].” Paul’s opening (1.1-7) is a generally powerful statement full of edifying statements of the goal of his letter. It is filled with Christological concepts which Jewish readers would have picked up on, most notably, that Jesus was from the line of David. This section is followed by 1.8-15 in which Paul establishes the ethos of his mission not just to Rome, but to the entire world as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul is establishing himself as the apostle to the Gentiles, so why is it that he would roundly condemn the entirety of the Gentiles, using contemporary Jewish polemical language and just before a statement is issued that this Gospel which he intends to preach at and beyond Rome is open to both Jews and Greeks equally because is of faith? This is not the same voice in 1.18-32 as we see in the previous verses in the chapter, but a voice wholly unlike contemporary Paul.

Paul begins in earnest dialogue with a statement about the Gospel, that it is the power to save both Jews and Gentiles through faith(fullness). This is the premise which he will now debate. Following this rather robust statement is a counterstatement starting with γὰρ which would stand in contrast with the previous comments by Paul in the mind of the audience. The Apostle is beginning his correction of the normative Jewish thinking that the idol-worshipping Gentiles, without God, had degenerated into something less than human. This was common polemical language which can be found in other deuterocanonical and pseudepigraphical literature of the time[6]. To then go along with it would be out of Paul’s character. Stowers does correctly point to 2.1 as a beginning of a dialogue, although I would point out that I believe that 2.1 is where Paul begins speaking again after his absence in 1.18-32. Simply, Paul issues his statement of what the Gospel is in 1.16-17 to challenge the Jewish polemical language of his time which is personified by the fictitious dialogue partner in 1.18-32. Paul then begins to counter Jewish polemics in 2.1.  There is a reason with which to examine the proper place of beginning the dialogue approach to Romans.

Starting in chapter 1 with the dialogue allows us to re-examine Stowers’ view that in Romans 5-8, which is that it is the Gentiles who are in focus. He notes that chapters 3-4 treat the issue of faith which disappears only to reappear in chapters 9-11. In the first set, the covenant, a Jewish concept, is founded by Abraham and then Jesus, and it is their faithfulness which reconciles people unto God. While this is clearly a Jewish concern, or rather, language which would appeal to the Jewish religious sensibility, Stowers goes too far, in my opinion, in stating that 5-8 in effect mirrors 3-4 but focusing on the Gentiles instead which causes an unnatural literary separation between these two paraenetic sections. In several statements, he discounts any opponents to his theories by noting that “there is no place whatsoever for including Jews here (in 5-8) (Stowers:253)” and, boisterously, “Not a shred of sound evidence exists to indicate that he directs himself to Jews or so-called Jewish Christians (Stowers:255).[7]” Further, he construes Paul’s statements in 1.18-32 as aligning himself with other Jews of the time in condemning the denigration of Gentiles. If indeed the structure of the conversation begins not in chapter 2, but in chapter 1.18, after Paul states his brief summary of the Gospel (1.17), then Paul could be said to, opposite of Stowers, to actually condemn the rather Jewish polemical attitude of the Gentiles in Romans 1.18-32, which in turn would turn the entire first half of Romans into a conversation with Jews about Gentiles and their acceptance into the Covenant. Had Stowers began with Romans 1.18 as the start of Paul’s dialogue partner, then his entire view of 5-8 may have been different. I would also add that his disjointed view of 3-4 and 5-8 is problematic as N.T. Wright points out, “The rhetoric of Romans does it differently: Abraham’s family (Romans 4) is founded on God’s justifying action in Christ (Romans 5), which is then explained in terms of membership in the Messianic family (Romans 6)[8]”. Separation 3-4 from 5-8 separates the Jews and the Gentiles in Paul’s thought.

Baptism, in several of the sects of Judaism, allowed Gentiles to cease being Gentile and thus become a Jew. “For Jewish people, baptism was the act by which non-Jews converted to Judaism, the final removal of Gentile impurity; by it one turned one’s back on life in paganism and sin, vowed to follow God’s commandments, and became a new person with regard to Jewish law. [9]” If this alone was true, then we may have difficulty in seeing anyone else but Gentiles in 6-8; however, I would like to call attention to several things which should, at least, allow that this passage was not particularly focused on Gentiles, even those who have converted to Judaism. First, there is the canonical evidence that Jews were being baptized as well as such evidence that baptism is seen as something connected to the narrative of Israel[10], most notably, the baptism of John the Baptizer, not to mention the instances in Acts. Further, as I will demonstrate later, Paul is still dialoging with his Jewish partner as evident by the questioning in 6.1. Finally, Paul notes that he is numbered among those who are baptized which is signified by the plural pronouns. Unless we are led to believe that Paul counted himself among the Gentiles, or perhaps felt the need to be baptized by didn’t see this as a need for fellow Jews, then we can only believe that Paul identified with the audience, whether Jewish or Gentile, who were baptized.

Stowers especially singles out 7 as relating to the Gentiles in which, for him, the chapter represents a stance against the Gentiles needing to follow the works of the law; however, I think that he goes too far in trying to refute Augustine and his theological descendants. It is also in this chapter which Stowers sees Paul returning to prosopopoeia, something he seemingly left in chapter 2. As I have already state, my contention is that Paul is using this form of dialogue beginning in Romans 1.16 and lasting at least until chapter 8, if not afterwards. I want to turn attention to the use of Jewish concepts to denote chapter 7 as relating to an audience who is not simply Gentile and whose focus would have been on the Jews. As I noted before, the voice of the dialogue partner is Jewish, as evidenced by the question asked in 6.15. Further, in 7.1, Paul states that he is speaking to those who know the Law while in 7.7, he quotes a commandment from the Law. This is shortly after Paul’s discourse in 5, especially 18-21, in which the Law is said to come as a direct result of the transgression of Adam. He also identifies with the audience, as he did in chapter 6, by calling them ‘brothers.’ Finally, there seems to be an intertextual connection between the figure presented here and marriage as defined by Deuteronomy (for example, 24.3). These things should allow the possibility that Paul is not just speaking either to or about Gentiles, but so too, and if not exclusively, to the Jews. JDR Kirk notes, as well, that the “Law comes at a pivotal point in the argument in 6.14-15 and then takes center stage in 7.1, remaining central to the discussion until 8.7 (99).[11]” Because of this, Kirk is able to say, and I would concur, that Paul is reinterpreting “Israel’s story through the lens of the Christ event.”

While Stowers did not expressly cover chapter 8 as a hallmark of Paul’s suspected focus on the Gentiles in this section, I believe that it shows, as with 6 and 7, that Paul has not excluded the Jews in his conversation which takes place in this unit but continues to focus on them. Many Jews believed that the Spirit would signify the eschatological end of the Exile, in which God’s power would enliven the children of Israel. We see this view expounded in Isaiah 44.3, 59.21; Ezekiel 39.29; and Joel 2.28-32 in which the Spirit is promised at the end of the Age. Further, there is the notion of the Resurrection of the Righteous as the end of age found in certain sects of Judaism (2 Macc 7.14-15, 12.43) in which at the End of the Age, the pious would be resurrected to rule over the earth. Paul, deeply entrenched in the faith of the resurrection, could then clearly state that the Spirit was life as he did in 8.10, which for him connected together the resurrection and the Spirit. If this was an exclusively Gentile audience, then we could have expected Paul to have used different language and figures which the Gentiles would have expected to have understood but instead, we find language familiar to Paul’s Pharisee tradition.

Paul’s use of prosopopoeia continues in Romans 6-8. As evidence of that, I present the continued questioning of Paul’s premise such as what we find in 6.1. Paul answers this with a stern μὴ γένοιτο[12]. This phrase becomes an anaphora in Romans in which Paul uses it to set off his reply. This type of questioning is repeated in 6.15, 7.7, 7.13 forming an inclusio which establishes a certain structure for Paul to work within[13]. But, the structure is more detailed than that. The question posed by the Jewish questioner in 6.1 is rebuked in 6.2a by Paul, given an explanation in 6.2b-3. 6.4-11 is the explanation of the answer. This pattern is repeated beginning in 6.15-7.6. The question is asked and answered in 6.15-20 with an explanation of what benefit the answer brings to the baptized[14]. It is evident that Paul not only answers a question, but explains the question and how it relates to the audience. I use ‘benefit’ (NASB) as a translation of Paul’s καρπὸν in 6.21 and 22. I also note that in 7.4, Paul uses καρποφορήσωμεν to speak of the goal of being raised from the dead. In 7.7a-7.7b, the same pattern is found in the question/answer formulation. Paul then proceeds to answer the question but with no benefit offered. In 7.13a-7.13b Paul does the same thing once more, but again, without the benefit offered but this time, Paul continues to stretch out his thought throughout chapter 8.

Another way structure which superimposes itself on6-8 is the use of a figure or topic. Baptism in 6.3 is Paul’s topic from which he builds and redoubles his case that through Christ the believer has been justified. 6.3 relates baptism as a matter of fact. His audience and he were baptized, which is why we see the second person plural[15] here but is absent in much of the rest of the pericope. 6.4 begins with the figure of baptism which is set in very physical terms. This image is carried out through 6.14 when suddenly Paul is asked another question which leads to a fuller explanation of the role of sin and grace because of justification. Paul then divides the topic into two subtopics which are participation in the death and in the resurrection of Christ. We see a hint of this in 6.21-22 in which the baptized has been freed by death from death and now, through sanctification, will receive the resurrection. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca note that the use of association and dissociation, such as what we shall soon see, is an identifiable technique of rhetoric. It would have allowed Paul to “bring separate elements together and allow (him) to establish a unity among them, which aim(ed) either at organizing them or at evaluating them.” Further, this technique has the purpose of “dissociating, separating, and disuniting elements which are regarded as forming a whole or at least a unified group within some system of thought.[16]” In other words, Paul takes baptism as a unifying whole, but then dissembles it into death and then the Spirit, or life.

In speaking of the ancient rhetorician, Gorgias, Aristotle (Rhet 1418a 4-37) notes that the orator is able to deliver several of these subtopics on any given subject, allowing them to serve as sources of arguments. Further, in his own work, Topics, Aristotle goes into the use of Question and Answer (we see something like this with Paul’s use of prosopopoeia throughout the book of Romans), in which an argument is presented, but subtopics are developed. All of this, however, has to follow a certain logous eikotas, which I believe we can find if we see Paul as building upon a previous argument, and dividing out the salient points. Paul has found a visible image for his argument of justification in the form of baptism, which for the skilled rhetorician, he was able to use as a topic and then to divide the act into two subtopics.

Richard Longenecker notes that in antiquity, written texts served to aid oral community, perhaps in the area of memory. If we assume that Paul’s audience would have rather heard the letter than read it, quite the opposite today, then the use of topics and subtopics could be explained because it would have been Paul’s way of reinforcing his view of justification. This formula style of delivery was used, as Longenecker writes, for a variety of reasons, but gives four. To sum, the use of repeating concepts, even differently, was to anticipate, highlight, enhance and to gain acceptance. To place this concept upon Paul and his intended audience in Rome, Paul would need to anticipate who the audience was and their previous teachings on the effect of the death of Christ[17]. This would lead him to highlight his own teaching by enhancing, repeatedly, his view on the death of Christ and his subsequent resurrection so that he could gain acceptance. The enhancement which I mean is found best Romans 6.1-13 in which it is said that through the death of Christ, we are dying out to sin with a hopeful resurrection. Paul’s death of Christ is not anti-imperialism (Mark) or the necessary order of things (Luke), but a narrative which needs to be expanded and explained. If Stowers is correct, and Romans is a protreptic letter (113), then this latter reason, to gain acceptance, is Paul’s main goal in making sure that his teaching comes across easily and is fully understood by his audience. To this, William Ong would add “…synonyms, parallelisms, repetitions, neat oppositions, give the individual hearer a second chance if he did not hear well the first time.[18]” Paul was repeating himself to further explain his doctrine in order for his audience in order for them to efficiently digest his doctrine and thereby gain the acceptance which he would need to establish himself in Rome, which would aid him in furthering his missionary journey.

We may also consider 6-8 through the lens of epideictic rhetoric[19]. As noted earlier, 6-8 is a paraenetic unit which is built around a singular idea, or perhaps, ideal. The inclusio which is framed by 6.1-14 and 8.1-13 helps us to establish this unit as something to examine as, perhaps, a speech intended to be given as a whole. If we take this as a speech, we must first determine what species of rhetoric it is. Forensic rhetoric would require rebuttals. In 6-8, there are questions but never really rebuttals. If Paul was using deliberative rhetoric in 6-8, we should expect to see some action being promoted, but since the action, either the justification or baptism, has already occurred in the past, then we can assume that the only species left is epideictic which allows persuasion[20], albeit not to the extent of the other two species of rhetoric (Carey 238). 6.1-14 would serve as the proem, 6.15- 8.13 would serve as the probatio, while the rest of chapter 8 would serve as the summary, or peroratio. Paul is attempting to showcase the ideal theology of interpreting the death of Christ, which, ironically enough, is actually his. The probatio, or body of the speech, would have allowed Paul to develop his topic through examples and praising of it.

In this case, we find a connection to Aristotle’s dialectic in 6-7.6. Fortenbaugh[21] notes that Aristotle issued exercises wherein two opponents participate in a question and answer segment upon a topic. The goal of one opponent is to trap the other in paradoxes, which we can see happening in several of the questions which Paul is asked. Fortenbaugh goes on to note that some of the questions will “involve necessary truths.” He also notes that the person asking the questions “must take account of what the respondent believes or at least is prepared to concede (108).” Later, Fortenbaugh notes that Aristotle demands that the orator give premises which allow for a “if-then mixed hypothetical syllogism (113).” Again, we find that this holds true in 6-8, beginning, of course, in chapter 1. Paul is using what the Jews assumed about the Gentiles and his Gospel. The Gentiles were unsavable, which Paul shows is false, and his Gospel is not a license to sin, but to be obedient to the law of the Spirit. He does this by first stating the topic of baptism and what it figures and as I noted before, he follows this up with two subtopics which dissemble the main topic into a unifying whole.

The first subtopic, which is death, is discussed in chapter 7 which deals with the figure of the widow.  Here, Paul is not asked a question so much as he brings up a point to discuss, which concerns the longevity of the Law over a person. This figure is then thrust upon the audience in which they said to die to the Law through the death of Christ, the end of death through death, which will bring about καρπὸν for God. This first category is discussed with the benefit noted only to be rejoined by a question from Paul’s dialogue partner in 7.7a. The dialogue partner has listened intently to Paul’s explanation and then asks several other questions which requires that Paul present another figure of what has happened to the audience which we find really beginning in chapter 8. If we were to break this subtopic down into even further episodic paraenetic statements, we would see four small units emerge in 6.1-14, 6.15-7.6, 7.7-12, and 7.13-25.

This second subtopic, which is life, takes the form a debate between the flesh and the spirit in which the new law of the Spirit is finally implemented now that the death and resurrection has occurred. For Paul, the flesh is our human-centered weaknesses (cf 6.19) while the Spirit is the empowering force of God. The argument, as we have seen, doesn’t begin here in chapter 8, but refers back to 6.1-13, in which Paul opens up his teaching on what brings justification, which is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our participation in it through baptism. Just as 6.1-13 is framed by the previous section on justification, and our introduction to Grace, it also serves to frame the following two chapters as they serve to supplement Paul’s argument there. The idea of participation is evident throughout 6-8, and the more so when in 8, the baptized are called to participate in the Law of the Spirit. The baptized participate in the death of Christ through baptism and through his resurrection, they will participate in the final resurrection. Or, again, those who participate in the death of Christ will equally participate in his life.

The argument in chapter 8, then, is one which is a subtopic of the argument begun in chapter 6. In 6.1-13, baptism is seen as the entire act of dying and rising with Christ to the hope of a resurrected life (6.4-5). Or, in another way, 6.1-13 encompasses both the dying in Christ and the hope of resurrection. In chapter 7.1-16, the act of dying and what place it has in respect to the Law of Moses is explained using the role of a wife who is no longer bound to her husband upon his death. She is free to marry again and to live a new life. This is used to explain the role in which the dying of and in Christ frees the baptized from the necessity of the Law which allows sin and death to reign[22]. With the first meaning of the act of baptism explained, Paul moves into the second meaning, the resurrection. With this, it behooves us to say that 8.1-11 is Paul’s subtopic in which he discusses the resurrection from the common argument began in Romans 6, while 8.12-17, just as 6.14-23 and 7.7-25 does, serves to provide for the audience the actual benefit of the action just enumerated. It is also worth noting that Paul’s use of the language of sin, death, and law is evident in 6.1-13, 7.1-6 and 8.1-17 in which these things are defeated by the death and resurrection of Christ. (I also note that the use of these concepts tie this unit as a whole.) What is evident is that Paul is using two several devices to relate his ultimate goal of explaining the dialogue of justification found Romans 1-5.

For several commentators, including Stowers and Elliott, the purpose of this section is directed at the Gentiles finds genesis in Paul’s statement in 1.5; however, I believe that Raymond Brown and Longenecker are accurate when they tie this rhetorical unit not to an ethnic group per say, but to the theological treatise found in 1.11. Recounting salvation’s history has been accomplished in 1-5, so what is left in 6-8 is to establish Paul’s Gospel, his spiritual gift, which the Roman Church seemed to be lacking[23]. The gift is simply Paul’s Gospel which is based on the death of Christ through his faithfulness to God which is what justifies a person, and not the works of the Law[24]. The purpose of this section is not about Gentile’s inclusion in the faith, but about expanding the image of justification through the shared experience of baptism which symbolizes physically the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Paul takes the image of baptism, which was an act performed by both Jew and Gentile alike, and uses it to explain his Gospel to the audience, discounting Jewish exclusion of Gentiles as well as calling attention to the role in which the Spirit signifies justification and plays a role in the life of the believer, Jew or Gentile. It is not that Paul is arguing for baptism, but that he is using a known image to represent his vision of the Gospel, something that was countering the Jewish polemics of his day.

There is another purpose to Paul’s work here. In 6.8, Paul takes the past to look forward to the future symbolized in the “we shall also live with him.” In the first inclusio, Paul is setting out the effects of the death of Christ. There is not a momentary event which is called death, but a state in which the baptized live. The baptized are still dead to sin but yet to fully live with Christ. By employing several rhetorical techniques, Paul reaffirms the state of dead to sin, only to find the final inclusio promising life in the New Creation. Further, this state only exists in Christ Jesus, a particular phrase which first appears in Romans 6. These purposes enforce the idea that participation in the actual event, the death of Christ, is necessary to allow for participation in the hopeful event, the resurrection. Baptism is Paul’s figure which symbolizes the union with Christ and is used to explain his Gospel to the Roman audience. It is one of eschatological hope and a reinterpretation of Israel’s history through Christ.

Limiting Paul’s audience to Gentiles does an injustice to the message which he is presenting in Romans 1-8. If the apostrophe is moved back from Romans 2.1, which is where Stowers and others suggest it begins, to Romans 1.16 allowing that Paul begins the dialogue only to be rejoined by a Jewish polemicist who is arguing that Paul’s Gospel which is for the Jew and Gentile alike is impossible because of the moral degeneration of the Gentiles. This dialogue continues throughout 2-4 allowing Paul to give a long-winded speech on justification in chapter 5 while building to an interpretation of the death of Christ and what it means for the justified. After intently listening, the polemicist engages Paul, trying to trap him into saying that those in Christ Jesus are allowed to sin and break the Law among other questions. Paul’s masterful reply is found in 6-8 in which sin, death, and law are defeated, leaving the law of the Spirit for those, all of those, Jew and Gentile alike, in Christ. The focus of the Epistle, contrary to Stowers (and Elliott), is not Gentile, but Jewish and more, Jewish polemicists who might not accept Paul’s Gospel, which would perhaps limit his expected missionary journeys into Europe. By speaking directly to them and their concerns for his Gospel, Paul is able to take the rejections which he has no doubt commonly heard and engage them in front of his audience before he even arrives so that they will be ready to accept him. His Gospel is one well within line with Jewish Tradition, albeit a tradition interpreted through Christ, and more, it is one which encompasses both Jews and Gentiles.



[1] Stowers, Stanley K. A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews, and Gentiles. New Haven: Yale University, 1994. Here, Stowers notes that the traditional use of paraenesis has been misunderstood. As I will explain later, 6-8 is a complete unit, but even within these chapters, there are paraenetic episodes of dialogue.

[2]N. Elliott, The Rhetoric of Romans: Argumentative Constraint and Stratagey and Paul’s Dialogue with Judaism (JSNTS 45; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990), p. 236. See Cicero, De Invetione 1.57, Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.23-24

[3] It would not be easy to argue for an enthymeme in Romans 6-8, as Paul is clearly trying to provide to his audience a sum total of how he sees justification.

[4] Friberg Analytical Greek Lexicon.

[5] Dunn calls this section a “characteristic of Jewish polemic against Gentile idolatry.” (p217) while in another place his notes that this is a “typically Hellenistic Jewish polemic against gentile idolatry” (p165), comparing the list of sins and vices here to those in deuterocanonical literature. Stowers notes that this is directed towards the Gentile, but still places the voice within Paul (128). (Dunn, James G. The New Perspective on Paul. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2007.)

[6] The use of non-canonical but contemporary literature as Paul’s dialogue partner should be explored. For example, the use of the Law in Romans 7 may be compared to Psalms of Solomon 14.1-1.

[7] Elliott also has this prejudice (p238).

[8] Wright, N.T.. Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision. Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press Academic, 2009.

[9] Craig S. Keener and InterVarsity Press, The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New Testament, Ro 6:1 (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1993).

[10] 1 Co 10.2

[11] Kirk, J. Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of God. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008.

[12] In 1 Co 6.15, Lee suggests that Paul uses the phrase μὴ γένοιτο to object to foolish questions (Lee, Jae Hyun. Paul’s Gospel in Romans: A Discourse Analysis in Romans 1.16-8.39. Leiden: Brill, 2010, p188).

[13] Lee notes these questions, calling them “ridiculous objections” but noting that they serve to bridge the sub-units. (310)

[14] I do not wish to comment on the nature of the baptism, but as Paul began this section speaking with those, who like him, have been baptized, I have chosen to remain calling them the baptized.

[15] See p127 and 255 in Stowers for the use of pronouns singling out discourses.

[16] Perelman, Chaim, and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca. The New Rhetoric. Chicago: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991., p190.

[17] Longenecker, Richard N. Introducing Romans: Critical Issues in Paul’s Most Famous Letter. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2011. (Kindle Version 2360/7012)

[18] Ong, Walter J. Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture. Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1982, 114

[19] I note that Witherington (see his Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Romans) sees this section cast in the light of deliberative rhetoric, basing this on Quintilian’s admonition that deliberative rhetoric is “always involved with questions where some doubt exists.” (154)

[20] Elliott sees a cosmological connection in Romans 6-8.13 in which Paul is relating to the audience the movement between spheres of dominion. While this is not a particular view which I believe fits Romans, it may be worth considering Elliott’s hypothesis here along with what Carey says of using epideictic rhetoric in the tradition of funeral oration. Carey writes, “The Athenian funeral oration appropriates the role previously played by such laments and places those who die for the democratic polis on the same level as the aristocratic dead of former generations.” He goes on to note that the funeral speeches are given as an “act of collective self-definition and self-assertion.” The speeches would give value to the cause for which the person died. If Elliot is correct, then Paul may be issuing some form of funeral speech in which the death of Christ is seen as this act of self-definition and self-assertion. Kirk and Richard Hayes equally see a more cosmological aspect in Romans.

[21] Worthington, Ian, ed. A Companion to Greek Rhetoric. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007

[22] It would stand to reason that the only people who could be married to the Law were the Jews.

[23] Longenecker ties his interpretation to Brown’s who denied the focus on ethnicity and then expands it a little. I note, however, that for Longenecker, the rhetorical unit is 5-8. Arguably, 5-8 can represent a rhetorical unit, finding an inclusio in the first portion of 5 and the latter half of 8; however, I maintain that if this was delivered orally, than the tighter framework would include 6-8. (4863/7012).

[24] I do not intend to offer what I meant by this, but only to suggest that this phrase is tied to ethnic concerns.

Kennedy, Rhetoric and Romans

English: By Rembrandt.

Image via Wikipedia

One of the striking images which Kennedy paints is by the brush of Ernesto Grassi, upon whose canvas the picture of sacred language breaks forth. Part of the draw of rhetorical criticism has been to discover the power of the texts upon the audience and why these particular texts have so embedded themselves into the psyche of the mind, so that even those who simply do not believe them in any way still find them attractive. The idea which Grassi proposes revolves around the concept of the kerygma, a proclamation. Out of five characteristics which Grassi gives (6), the first one brings the most to bear on my current thought. Sacred language “has a purely revealing or evangelical character, not a demonstrative or proving function; it does not arise out of a process of inference, but authoritatively proclaims the truth.” Kennedy notes that the message of Jesus was “essentially proclaimed” although later, he notes the use of miracles which often times accompanied the message in the Gospels as serving a vital function in the scheme of invention. Of course, Kennedy also notes that often times, a “radical Christian rhetoric” is seen when a “Christian doctrine is purely proclaimed and not couched in enthymemes.” Kennedy notes that these vibrant strokes of rhetorical artistry can be seen in pericopes as well as the entire Gospel of Mark. (7).

Moving into the five parts of rhetoric, Kennedy deals with the first three which are more likely to be the concern of the letter writers in the New Testament. Invention is covered first and the most extensively. Given that within Invention, we find the key elements of rhetoric which are ethos, pathos and logos, then Invention seems to be the most important piece of good rhetoric (15). Kennedy notes that invention is “based either on external proofs,” those things which the author uses but does not invent, and internal proofs which is the license of the artist. In the New Testament, the writers have three external proofs given to them which are “quotations of Scripture, the evidence of miracles, and the naming of the witnesses.” (14) Later, I will argue that Kennedy misses the internal proof which the New Testament writers willingly made use of, which is the claiming of the Spirit, but for now, one must agree that Kennedy has accurately singled out the right proofs which the New Testament writers use. I would also note that the use of witnesses fits well with the use of Scripture which in one place demands the use of them to confirm the truth[1]. Previously, Kennedy had noted that one cannot judge New Testament rhetoric purely by Greek standards, but must find a way to acknowledge the cultural influence and necessities of the situation (11-12), so it may be that the three proofs in the New Testament which align with the rhetorical device of Invention is better understood as a Jewish expression of a Greek thought.

I wanted to briefly mention the use of ethos, pathos and logos, the styles of inductive and deductive syllogisms as well as ergasia (15-17, 22). Ethos is the character of the speaker, which relates back to Kennedy’s assertion, based somewhat on Grassi’s notion of sacred language, that acceptance of religious rhetoric is based in part on the perceived qualities of the speaker, or in our case, the author of the letters. This would explain Paul’s need to self-boast and to parade his commissioning account and perhaps, even the so-called secret motif in Mark which would have defended Jesus from the charge of self-inflation. There is also pathos to consider, which must come into play when examining the expected reaction from the audience. The New Testament writers expected some sort of response to their works, as did the Evangelists. I would go further to say that Mark’s shorter ending causes the most reaction, even today, and should thus be considered the better choice based on that reason alone. In the logos portion, or logical argument, Kennedy details the inductive style which has the author presenting examples which then lead to a conclusion compared to the deductive style which has the ancient author presenting premises which then require the audience to make conclusion.

Lastly, there are the two rhetorical devices, epicheireme and ergasia consider. The former, Kennedy notes, consists of a “full statement of major premise, minor premise, and conclusion” but would only be delivered to a group of peers in a tightly reasoned philosophical argument (17). Ergasia is the “working out” of topics, which are those things generally given to serve as a point of discussion. These arguments which are not merely given, but stretched out to include smaller arguments, relate well to the notion of topics as Kennedy gives them. More importantly, is the idea that within these larger workers, rhetorical units are going to still have identifiable beginning, middle and ends (33)[2].

Kennedy writes about “radical Christian rhetoric” in which, akin to Grassi’s first characteristic, a doctrine is simply proclaimed. While I might differ with Kennedy as to what a doctrine actually is, I believe that overall, to understand that statements which would perhaps serve as headings as being proclaimed in such a way  which wouldn’t require proofs would not be far off from Kennedy’s understanding. For example, a great body of doctrine is built upon the statement in Romans 1.16 but Paul says this without offering a sign; however, I believe that he goes into a discourse related to this topic much later in the Epistle[3]. Contrasted to this statement is Paul’s statement in 4.25 which is not simply left alone, only to be picked up at a later time, but is developed over the course of the next few chapters in which Paul explains this concept of δικαίωσιν. In Chapters 5 through 8, the idea of δικαίωσιν is carried through several stages and given a more robust picture, calling to mind the epicheireme.

Earlier, I noted that I believe that Kennedy missed the internal proof Paul would have alleged to prove his argument. Throughout Romans, we are given an ample painter’s palette to work with for external proofs. First, Paul creatively uses Scripture as an armature for his overall epistle. It is then followed up with an almost encaustic attempt to paint into the background of Paul himself the ancient figures of Adam, Abraham and Moses, serving as witnesses to validate the message. The resurrection, then, is the impasto miracle. All of these things can be easily seen by the audience, but the internal proof is what gives Paul the edge. Paul cites the role of the Spirit working inwardly (Roman 2:25) which inaugurates a new creation. Further, throughout chapter 8, Paul relies heavily upon the use of the Spirit to vindicate that the believers in Jesus are the children of God (Romans 8.16). This would have been an internal proof which would have served at least two purposes. One, it could only be verified by those with the Spirit and two, it was not likely to be openly challenged because those who challenged it could have just as easily been said not to have the Spirit.

Kennedy notes that Paul’s Epistle to the Romans lack a proper moment of ethos (152), but I would argue that Paul’s ethos is not so achromatic, especially if we consider it a protreptic letter[4]. I would offer proof of this in that Paul is writing to a more sophisticated audience and would have had to develop a more sophisticated style. Further, he makes an impassioned plea on behalf of Israel (Romans 11.1). Paul’s ethos and his attention to the pathos of the audience comes through especially in 9-11, in that the argument between the Jews and the Gentiles are argued in front of the audience, finally come to a conclusion, drawing the audience along through the deductive style.

Kennedy instructs his students to take the New Testament in the overall situation of being given in an oral culture (37-38). He further suggests that a “line by line analysis” is required to “reveal how the raw material has been worked out or rhetorically amplified both in content and in style.” Previously, he concludes, “The ultimate goal of rhetorical analysis, briefly put, is the discovery of the author’s intent and of how that is transmitted through a text to an audience (12).” In examining Romans under the lens of rhetorical criticism, one must be careful not to supplement one theologian or the next for Paul’s intent. Further, one must look for examples of dialogue within the text, as well as to take Romans as a work in of itself so that a one is not looking for a comprehensive doctrine by placing side by side various passages in various epistles, but the examiner must take the pericopes, these episodic thoughts in the epistle, as a self-contained rhetoric unit and build Paul’s intent with them, and then the whole of the epistle.



[1] 2 Co 13.1

[2] Kennedy notes on p33 that Mark 5:20 serves as an ending of a rhetorical unit because it sums up what went on before and what is happening now.

[3] Kennedy notes that the introduction to the Epistle includes several topics which are later developed throughout the Epistle.

[4] If it is a protreptic letter, Paul would have had to use the letter as an introduction to himself, meaning that the entire letter should be looked at as ethos.

Enhanced by Zemanta