The Hardened individual

The Church has frequently ignored that Paul considered the heart to be ametanoetos, incapable of repentance: therefore the Church often zealously requires the individual to repent.But because the heart is ametanoetos, Paul was an evangelist, rather than a preacher of repentance. Hence he was able to bring the individual into relationship with Jesus and thereby implanted in his heart that which is new, which broke apart the old thought constructs and resisted the old pattern of volition

Adolf Schlatter: Romans, The Righteousness of God.

Schlatter talks about the difference between the prophet, and the evangelist. The evangelist is the one who lives with, and serves the community. He does NOT preach at them. That is the job of the prophet, the prophet who has been properly educated in the scriptures, and who is called to bring the things of God to the understanding of the people ONCE they have been evanglised and decided they need to know more.

That is to say, the evangelist brings people in touch with the loving heart of God, through Christ, where the prophet brings revelation and understanding to those who have begun to be made new.

Adolf had this right nearly 100 years ago, and yet nearly all the Church STILL think that they need to stand on the street corner and insult the intelligence of people is the way to convert them. It wasnt the right way in the first century, and it sure isnt now.

Posted on

“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 ]] 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. ]] 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.


Posted on

On γαρ’d: touché

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


Posted on

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:


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:

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

Posted on

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 ]].

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. ]] 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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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.




Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted on

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…

]] says:

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)

Posted on