Did Paul write Romans 13:1-7?

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Irish1975
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Did Paul write Romans 13:1-7?

Post by Irish1975 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:59 am

There are few texts in human history that have better served the purposes of cruelty and tyranny than Romans 13. Here it is in full King James splendor:
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
For there is no power but of God:
the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power,
resisteth the ordinance of God:
and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation [krima = 'judgment'].
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.
Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?
Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good.
But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid;
for he beareth not the sword in vain:
for he is the minister of God,
a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject,
not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For this cause pay ye tribute also:
for they are God’s ministers,
attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues:
tribute to whom tribute is due;
custom to whom custom;
fear to whom fear;
honour to whom honour. (KJV)
Tyrant's Bible!

A common approach for liberal theologians such as John Howard Yoder (The Politics of Jesus), or more recently James Martin, is to put this text to sleep, to neutralize its tyrannical import by putting it "in context" of many other bits of scripture that contradict or soften it, and to deplore the practice of "taking it out of context." The problem, however, is that Romans 13: 1-7 is perfectly designed to be "taken out of context." It is forceful, unambiguous, lengthy, and carefully crafted for maximal impact. The final message is: SUBMIT! Don't question or oppose power unless you want to oppose God himself, and incur judgment ("damnation"!).

Scoundrels like Jeff Sessions will no doubt continue citing Romans 13 until doomsday, to defend the indefensible. The canon will always be the canon. But since the Pauline authorship of 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 is generally doubted, why not Romans 13:1-7?

I have read that many German exegetes turned their pens against it after WW2, for obvious reasons. In 1965, James Kallas argued in New Testament Studies, from internal thematic considerations, that it is in fact interpolated. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals ... 6679C0E56D Today it seems as though very few Pauline scholars question its authenticity.

A few matters for discussion--

1) Is there textual evidence that this passage was interpolated?
2) It enters the historical record fairly early: Irenaeus in AH 5.24.1, and Basilides before him (Pagels, the Gnostic Paul).
3) It seems to interrupt the flow of Paul's parenesis in the preceding and following parts of Romans (the end of 12 and 13:8ff).
4) Can this account of the archons as God-ordained ministers of good (never evil!) possibly cohere with Paul's other account of them in 1 Cor 2:8 as the ones who "crucified the Lord of glory"? (Setting aside all questions about the human vs. divine status of such archons)
5) Are there any non-trivial hypotheses who might have written it, if not Paul?

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Did Paul write Romans 13:1-7?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:56 am

Irish1975 wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:59 am
There are few texts in human history that have better served the purposes of cruelty and tyranny than Romans 13. Here it is in full King James splendor:
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
For there is no power but of God:
the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power,
resisteth the ordinance of God:
and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation [krima = 'judgment'].
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.
Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?
Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good.
But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid;
for he beareth not the sword in vain:
for he is the minister of God,
a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject,
not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For this cause pay ye tribute also:
for they are God’s ministers,
attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues:
tribute to whom tribute is due;
custom to whom custom;
fear to whom fear;
honour to whom honour. (KJV)
Tyrant's Bible!

A common approach for liberal theologians such as John Howard Yoder (The Politics of Jesus), or more recently James Martin, is to put this text to sleep, to neutralize its tyrannical import by putting it "in context" of many other bits of scripture that contradict or soften it, and to deplore the practice of "taking it out of context." The problem, however, is that Romans 13: 1-7 is perfectly designed to be "taken out of context." It is forceful, unambiguous, lengthy, and carefully crafted for maximal impact. The final message is: SUBMIT! Don't question or oppose power unless you want to oppose God himself, and incur judgment ("damnation"!).

Scoundrels like Jeff Sessions will no doubt continue citing Romans 13 until doomsday, to defend the indefensible. The canon will always be the canon. But since the Pauline authorship of 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 is generally doubted, why not Romans 13:1-7?

I have read that many German exegetes turned their pens against it after WW2, for obvious reasons. In 1965, James Kallas argued in New Testament Studies, from internal thematic considerations, that it is in fact interpolated. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals ... 6679C0E56D Today it seems as though very few Pauline scholars question its authenticity.

A few matters for discussion--

1) Is there textual evidence that this passage was interpolated?
The argument has been made. William O. Walker, Junior, discusses the possibility on pages 221-231 of Interpolations in the Pauline Letters.
2) It enters the historical record fairly early: Irenaeus in AH 5.24.1, and Basilides before him (Pagels, the Gnostic Paul).
Do you have a quote from Pagels on this, or at least a page number (with reference to Basilides)?

Irenaeus mentions the passage twice:

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.36.6: 6 .... Wherefore also the Apostle Paul says in the Epistle to the Romans, "For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive unto themselves condemnation. For rulers are not for a terror to a good work, but to an evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same; for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, the avenger for wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing." Both the Lord, then, and the apostles announce as the one only God the Father, Him who gave the law, who sent the prophets, who made all things; and therefore does, He say, "He sent His armies," because every man, inasmuch as he is a man, is His workmanship, although he may be ignorant of his God. For He gives existence to all; He, "who maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain upon the just and unjust."

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.24.1-3: 1 As therefore the devil lied at the beginning, so did he also in the end, when he said, "All these are delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give them." For it is not he who has appointed the kingdoms of this world, but God; for "the heart of the king is in the hand of God." And the Word also says by Solomon, "By me kings do reign, and princes administer justice. By me chiefs are raised up, and by me kings rule the earth." Paul the apostle also says upon this same subject: "Be ye subject to all the higher powers; for there is no power but of God: now those which are have been ordained of God." And again, in reference to them he says, "For he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, the avenger for wrath to him who does evil." Now, that he spake these words, not in regard to angelical powers, nor of invisible rulers-as some venture to expound the passage-but of those of actual human authorities, [he shows when] he says, "For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, doing service for this very thing." This also the Lord confirmed, when He did not do what He was tempted to by the devil; but He gave directions that tribute should be paid to the tax-gatherers for Himself and Peter; because "they are the ministers of God, serving for this very thing." 2 For since man, by departing from God, reached such a pitch of fury as even to look upon his brother as his enemy, and engaged without fear in every kind of restless conduct, and murder, and avarice; God imposed upon mankind the fear of man, as they did not acknowledge the fear of God, in order that, being subjected to the authority of men, and kept under restraint by their laws, they might attain to some degree of justice, and exercise mutual forbearance through dread of the sword suspended full in their view, as the apostle says: "For he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, the avenger for wrath upon him who does evil." And for this reason too, magistrates themselves, having laws as a clothing of righteousness whenever they act in a just and legitimate manner, shall not be called in question for their conduct, nor be liable to punishment. But whatsoever they do to the subversion of justice, iniquitously, and impiously, and illegally, and tyrannically, in these things shall they also perish; for the just judgment of God comes equally upon all, and in no case is defective. Earthly rule, therefore, has been appointed by God for the benefit of nations, and not by the devil, who is never at rest at all, nay, who does not love to see even nations conducting themselves after a quiet manner, so that under the fear of human rule, men may not eat each other up like fishes; but that, by means of the establishment of laws, they may keep down an excess of wickedness among the nations. And considered from this point of view, those who exact tribute from us are "God's ministers, serving for this very purpose." 4 As, then, "the powers that be are ordained of God," it is clear that the devil lied when he said, "These are delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give them." For by the law of the same Being as calls men into existence are kings also appointed, adapted for those men who are at the time placed under their government. Some of these [rulers] are given for the correction and the benefit of their subjects, and for the preservation of justice; but others, for the purposes of fear and punishment and rebuke: others, as [the subjects] deserve it, are for deception, disgrace, and pride; while the just judgment of God, as I have observed already, passes equally upon all. The devil, however, as he is the apostate angel, can only go to this length, as he did at the beginning, [namely] to deceive and lead astray the mind of man into disobeying the commandments of God, and gradually to darken the hearts of those who would endeavour to serve him, to the forgetting of the true God, but to the adoration of himself as God.

Heracleon apparently refers to it, too:

Fragment 48 [of Heracleon], on John 8.50: [John 8.50: "Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he will be the judge."] The words "there is one who seeks it, and he will be the judge" do not refer to the Father. The one who seeks and judges is the one who avenges me, the servant commissioned for that purpose, who does not bear the sword in vain, the avenger of the king. This is Moses, as he said to them previously in the words, "on who you set your hope" [John 5.45]. The one who judges and punishes is Moses, that is, the law-giver himself. How then does he not say that all judgement has been delivered to him [John 5:22]. He affirms it rightly: for the judge does this will as a servant when he judges, as happens clearly among human beings. [Link: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... cleon.html.]

3) It seems to interrupt the flow of Paul's parenesis in the preceding and following parts of Romans (the end of 12 and 13:8ff).
Agreed. Sort of. There is a sense in which Paul, having just discussed how to treat enemies in Romans 12.14-21, might wish to specify whether or not the governing pagan authorities are to be regarded as enemies. I do think that 13.1-7 interrupts the context to some extent, but the matter is not necessarily as clear as it might seem at first glance. YMMV.
4) Can this account of the archons as God-ordained ministers of good (never evil!) possibly cohere with Paul's other account of them in 1 Cor 2:8 as the ones who "crucified the Lord of glory"? (Setting aside all questions about the human vs. divine status of such archons)
Good question. On the other hand, 2 Corinthians 2.6-16 itself has been suspected as an interpolation, too, interestingly enough.
5) Are there any non-trivial hypotheses who might have written it, if not Paul?
A Stoic origin has been suggested, but not, so far as I am aware, a particular named author.
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robert j
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Re: Did Paul write Romans?

Post by robert j » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:18 am

I have not actively participated in the forum for several weeks until the last few days, and I will not be participating further for at least a while --- but I want to step aside for now with this ---

Romans is difficult. And it’s not just the messy manuscript history and early attestations that rightfully shed doubt on whether the 2 addresses to Rome in chapter 1, and chapters 15 and 16, are original. I do think early catholics added the 2 Roman addresses in chapter 1 and at least the later half, if not all, of chapter 15.

Romans is the flagship of the Pauline canon for a great many scholars who are heavily invested in the letter due at least in part to significant reliance on the letter in their theses, books, articles, and lectures.

R.M. Price thinks Romans consists of a Marcionite “nucleus” interposed by “subsequent Marcionite redactors and Gnostic interpolators” and co-opted by catholics who “padded the text with new material” to “sanitize Romans for their own use”. (The Amazing Colossal Apostle, pp.253-254). OK, that’s one theory --- one that I soundly reject as way over-extended beyond the reliable available evidence (except for a bit of catholic padding as mentioned above). But my question here is not about Price’s opinions, but I just wanted to get it out there.

My question here is posed in all seriousness. It’s not a trick question. It’s one I have wrestled with for several years. I have no doubt that at least a core of Romans, most of the letter, is thoroughly in the Pauline “camp”. The majority of critical investigators are not wrong on that.

Not intending to hijack this thread, but you'll find reams written about Romans 13:1-7. A broader question with much wider implications, and one rarely found outside of Marcionite-based theories, is this ---

Did Paul Write Romans?

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Did Paul write Romans?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:20 pm

robert j wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:18 am
Did Paul Write Romans?
Not going to answer that question in a single post by any means, but we ought to consider the letter collections to which it seems to belong:
  1. An edition of 4 Pauline letters (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians). Trobisch makes a good case for such an edition, based partly on the fact that the Pauline letters are almost always arranged by length in the manuscripts, yet Ephesians is longer than Galatians. This is a clue that an original collection ending with Galatians received an appendix of other letters addressed to churches.
  2. An edition of Pauline letters written to 7 churches (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians). Again, the lengths are telling, since 1 Timothy is longer than 2 Thessalonians. Gamble makes a good case for such an edition.
  3. The Marcionite edition, in which Galatians heads the list. This edition seems to bear some vestiges of the principle of ordering the letters by length, but requires 1 & 2 Corinthians and 1 & 2 Thessalonians each to be counted as one.
  4. An edition of 13 Pauline letters written both to churches and to individuals.
  5. An edition of 14 Pauline letters, now including that to the Hebrews, which was inserted into the list at rather many different points.
If this picture is even marginally correct, then Romans belongs to the very earliest collection of Paul's epistles. If it is authentically Pauline, then this is perfectly understandable. If it is not, then was it composed with this collection in mind (by the editor)? Or was it composed first and then only later added to the collection?
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Irish1975
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Re: Did Paul write Romans 13:1-7?

Post by Irish1975 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:29 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:56 am
Do you have a quote from Pagels on this, or at least a page number (with reference to Basilides)?
My bad, it is in fact Heracleon that Pagels mentions (p.43).

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Did Paul write Romans 13:1-7?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:30 pm

Irish1975 wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:29 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:56 am
Do you have a quote from Pagels on this, or at least a page number (with reference to Basilides)?
My bad, it is in fact Heracleon that Pagels mentions (p.43).
Okay, thanks. I wondered whether perhaps there had been some confusion.
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robert j
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Re: Did Paul write Romans?

Post by robert j » Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:46 pm

robert j wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:18 am
Did Paul Write Romans?
I certainly realize that it is not in the best spirit of this forum to pose such a question without being available for a while to follow-up.

Be that as it may, I do have a little time to clarify a bit before I’m out-of-here.

I’m not going to delve into any arguments or evidence at this time for why I think it’s worthwhile to explore this question --- except to say that I have not discovered a “smoking-gun” for an author other than Paul. It’s more subtle —- bits and pieces.

But I would like to clarify just a bit for now who else may have written the letter, when, and to whom.

I have proposed previously that I think one or more of Paul’s junior partners, one(s) with a proper Greek education, wrote some of the material in Paul's letters that some have characterized as non-Pauline, pre-Pauline, or interpolations. 1 Corinthians contains some of this material. I think the authors did not strive to write just like Paul --- no need to when Paul was happy to incorporate such value-added material into letters primarily authored by himself.

With some passage of time after Paul had died or retired, I think these junior partners continued to write the letters we call deutero-Paulines in Paul’s name to maintain or gain patronage. One can see some doctrinal drift in these letters I think representing some of the author’s own predilections, response to unfulfilled expectations as time went by, and to better reflect the current needs and interests of the audience.

As for Romans, I think the author, if not Paul, may have been one of those junior-partners trying hard to write in Paul’s name and voice very soon after Paul had died or retired with the sincere intention of accurately reflecting Paul’s doctrines --- though we see a slightly matured version. Regardless of the author, I think the letter --- sans the 2 addresses to Rome in chapter one and sans some or all of chapter 15 --- was intended for audiences in Asia Minor (2nd Galatians?). Again, if not authored by Paul, it might be considered the very earliest deutero-Pauline.

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