Friday, March 14, 2008

Two Poles about Israel in Paul's thinking

In reading over Romans 2-3, 9-11, I'm getting the impression that Paul is trying to hold together two things:

1. God's faithfulness to Israel.
2. God's impartiality in judging the human race.

Does this account for much of the tension in Paul's theology about Israel and the inclusion of the Gentiles without Torah observance?


Geoff Hudson said...

The original accounted for tension between prophets and priests and their associated followers.

2.13.For it is not those who hear the [law] {SPIRIT?} who ARE [righteous] {PURE?} in God's sight, but it is those who obey the [law] {SPIRIT?} who [will be declared] {ARE?} [righteous] {PURE?}.

The second ARE agrees with the first extant ARE. The Spirit cleansed the obedient while they were on earth. The original was prophetic.

Geoff Smith said...

I've been studying Romans pretty hard as my youth group wanted to learn the book. Anyhow I've been struggling with what Paul is up to...first the works of the law don't matter because God judges all impartially, Jews and Gentiles. Then God is not acting out of character for hardening Israel, then Israel, the one being hardened, is treated impartially and beloved for the sake of the patriarchs.

Needless to say, Paul goes through some confusing loops to say, "therefore welcome one another."

Marc said...

Hi Michael this is why Paul is misunderstood. That he taught Gentiles against the Torah.


David said...

Michael, I don't know if this article will help, but it does point out the tension you note.

Brendan Byrne, S.J.. 'Interpreting Romans Theologically in a Post-"New Perspective" Perspective.' Harvard Theological Review 94:3(2001): 227-42; esp. 238 ff.

David said...

Michael, Sorry, I hit the carriage return trying to log in to blogger.

Byrne notes that Paul has not really resolved the question of God's promise(s) to Israel, in light of the Gospel being given to the Gentiles. He ends this section of his overview with these words (p. 240):

"At the end of Romans 11, however, he has hardly resolved the issue of Israel in a satisfactory way. The status, present situation, and destiny of Israel remains a mystery (11:25–27)—as it does to this day. If, as seems to be the case, Romans really leaves the whole matter open-ended—within the fundamental assertion that God is faithful—that is perhaps where Christian theology should leave it also."