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 the Boccacci and Segovia and Rodríguez and Thiessen volumes, Fortress Press has kindly, if accidentally, passed along a review copy of Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm’s edited volume Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-century Context to the Apostle (2015). According to the book’s blurb:
In these chapters, a group of renowned international scholars seek to describe Paul and his work from “within Judaism,” rather than on the assumption, still current after thirty years of the “New Perspective,” that in practice Paul left behind aspects of Jewish living after his discovery of Jesus as Christ (Messiah). After an introduction that surveys recent study of Paul and highlights the centrality of questions about Paul’s Judaism, chapters explore the implications of reading Paul’s instructions as aimed at Christ-following non-Jews, teaching them how to live in ways consistent with Judaism while remaining non-Jews. The contributors take different methodological points of departure: historical, ideological-critical, gender-critical, and empire-critical, and examine issues of terminology and of interfaith relations. Surprising common ground among the contributors presents a coherent alternative to the “New Perspective.” The volume concludes with a critical evaluation of the Paul within Judaism perspective by Terence L. Donaldson, a well-known voice representative of the best insights of the New Perspective.
Apparently, the message with this title attached was intended for a different reviewer. But, since I hadn’t yet gotten a copy of this text, I was most grateful to have one, and Fortress was amenable to my keeping the copy in exchange for mentioning it here.
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)