Thursday, January 14, 2010
James Dunn on the Reason for Romans
In Beginning from Jerusalem (which is a goldmine of sober historical thinking about early Christianity), Jimmy Dunn returns to the subject of the purpose of Romans esp. in light of Paul's situation at Corinth:
"In these circumstances [finished his mission in the east], and given the relative calm of his few weeks in Corinth, Paul probably concluded that it was time to reflect on his mission to date, on its character, on the tensions and dissensions it had provoked, on what had proved carefully thought through and set down. No doubt the exercise was partly at least with a view to the apologia he might have to make in Jerusalem, and part at least to persuade the Roman believers of the scope and implications of the gospel. But Paul's primary objective, I suspect (with Dahl and Lohse), was to think through his gospel in light of the controversies which it had occasioned and to use the calm of Corinth to set out both his gospel itself and its ramifications in writing with a fullness of exposition which the previous trials and tribulations had made impossible and which would have been impossible to sustain in a single oral presentation."