Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More on Romans 7

Let me add a few more thoughts on Romans 7:

1. I agree with Kümmel, Dunn, Fitzmyer, and Byrne that Romans 7 is fundamentally an apology for the Mosaic law. So it's not about Christian sanctification, but about the place of the law in redemptive-history given the law's limitations and weakness.

2. A definitive case for the 'I/wretched man' as being a pre-Christian as viewed from a Christian perspective remains Werner Kümmel, Römer 7 und die Bekehrung des Paulus (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1929); repr. in Römer 7 und das Bild des Menschen: Zwei Studien (Theologische Bücherei, Neues Testament Band 53; Munich: Christian Kaiser Verlag, 1974). This point I take it has never been definitively refuted. However, Kümmel is agnostic about our ability to identify the ego with Paul, Israel, or Adam with any certainty, and he opts for a rhetorical understanding of the passage as signifying a paradigmatic example of human experience with sin.

3. I probably glossed over the "Adam" interpretation a bit too quickly in my previous post, and I admit that it has a little something going for it even though I am not completely convinced by it. It has a good list of supporters (Käsemnn, Talbert, and Witherington among others) and a clear link with Genesis 2-3 is in the reference to being deceived in v. 11. In the end though, if this is a reference to Israel or gentiles-with-Israel, it shows that the failure of Israel is a recapitulationg of the failure of Adam. And while not explicitly referring to Adam, this passage shows the dark vestiges of the Adamic-self (see Leander Keck, Romans, p. 180).


Alex said...


Is the Kummel article available in English?


Geoff Hudson said...

Why not come up date with contemporary ideas and see the clear link of 'being deceived' in v.11 with the spirit of deceit (as in the DSS, Martinez)? In any case, contemporary Jews probably thought of Eve as being deceived by a spirit of deceit personified by the nature of a snake.

Geoff Hudson said...

Explicitly, and contemporarily, in 1 Tim. 4:1: 'The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will .... follow deceiving spirits'. If they obeyed deceiving spirits they would have become impure - 'and abandon the faith' is a Pauline interpolation.

J.Skjou said...

I've searched high and low for W.G. Kümmel's Römer 7. I wish I knew where to get the reprinted material in English, but i don't think its been translated (yet). (I am sure that Mike and others know how to get the German; I sure the heck can't even find it in any language). However, don't give up on looking into him. I was introduced to Kümmel in: Perspectives Old and New on Paul (pgs. 135-146) by Stephen Westerholm. Westerholm's analysis of Kummel was highly readable, and, from the looks of Kümmel's take on Romans 7, I think that it would be hard to find a cleaner reading. Check out Westerholm in the meantime, and I hope you get your hands on a copy (and if you do, email me!).

Michael F. Bird said...

The best place to get into Kummel's work is via his "Theology of the NT" where he mentions Romans 7 in several places.