Purpose and Cause in Pauline Exegesis: Romans 1.16-4.25 and a New Approach to the Letters

Purpose and Cause in Pauline Exegesis: Romans 1.16-4.25 and a New Approach to the Letters

Purpose and Cause in Pauline Exegesis: Romans 1.16-4.25 and a New Approach to the Letters

Purpose and Cause in Pauline Exegesis: Romans 1.16-4.25 and a New Approach to the Letters

Synopsis

Three factors prompt this re-examination of the underlying questions that shape mainstream exegesis of Paul's letters. Hermeneutical studies have destabilized assumptions about the nature of meaning in texts; the letters are usually characterized as pastoral but explicated as expressions of Paul's thought; and the impact of E. P. Sanders' work on Paul has sharpened exegetical problems in Romans 1.16-4.25. The outcome is a two-step method of exegesis that considers a letter first in the light of the author's purpose in creating it and second as evidence for the patterns of thought from which it sprang. The passage appears as pastoral preaching, helping the Romans to deal with the implications of the fact that the God of Israel is now accepting believing Gentiles on the same basis as believing Jews. Justification by grace through faith emerges as the theological understanding of God's action in Christ that grounds pastoral speech.

Excerpt

This book is one outcome of many years’ work, and it is a joy to acknowledge the contributions of a wide circle of teachers, colleagues, students and friends. in particular, Dr John Ziesler, Rev. Toska Williams, Rev. Dr Gordon Watson, Rev. Dr Robin Boyd, Prof. Colin Gunton and the unknown snts referee read the entire typescript at various stages of its development and offered encouragement and helpful comments. Special contributions have been made by Mr Seán Jackson, Dr Neil Williams, Ms Wendy Butterworth, the Community at Oxley House and a generous group of friends who checked my typing.

The early stages of the research were undertaken during my Ph.D. studies at Cambridge. Rev. John Sweet, Rev. Dr (now Professor) Christopher Rowland, Dr John Ziesler and, especially, my supervisor Professor Morna Hooker, offered stimulus, challenge and encouragement. Thanks are due to Trinity College for its Research Studentship in Theology and many other benefits and pleasures, to the British Department of Education and Science for an Overseas Research Student’s Award, and to Ormond College in the University of Melbourne for a travel grant.

I wish to thank sntsms editors Dr Margaret Thrall and Professor Richard Bauckham for their work, and staff of Cambridge University Press for their expertise and helpfulness.

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