Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Robert Jewett on Rom. 2.13-16

In several places I have advocated the Gentile Christian reading of Rom. 2.13-16. I was glad then to read Bob Jewett's comments on this section:
"The Most likely of these views from a rhetorical point of view is that Paul is here describing the status of converted Gentiles. Having assented that wrath is already evident among unconverted Gentiles (1:18-31) and that Jews are not exempt from God's impartial judgment (2:1-13), the audience consisting mainly of converted Gentiles would assume that their current situation is described in these verses which provide a preliminary form of Paul's strategy of touting Gentile conversion in order to provoke Jewish conversion through jealousy (11:11-14). The alleged contradiction between these verses and chap. 3 is removed if one takes the latter as claiming that all unconverted Gentiles and Jews have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that salvation is by grace alone for Jews as well as Gentiles.

The gar ('for') of v. 14 indicates an argumentative connection with the foregoing thesis concerning the impartial judgment of God in v. 11. It is significant that Paul refers here to the ethne ('Gentiles') without the article implying that some but not all Gentiles are in view. The expression ta me nomon echonta ('those that do not have the law') refers to the absence of the Jewish Torah within the cultural tradition of Gentiles, whereby the word phusis should be taken as qualifying their identity rather than behavior. It refers to Gentiles whose birthright lacked exposure to the Torah. Yet they do the 'deeds of the law,' a claim that in the experience of the Roman audience could only have referred to converted Gentiles" (pp. 213-14).

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