Interesting statement in Romans 15

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Posts: 6450
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:45 pm

Re: Interesting statement in Romans 15

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jan 09, 2021 7:36 pm


Romans 15
27(b) ... For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. .. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. ..29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.

30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. ..31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

What unbelievers in Judea does he want to be safe from??

Aleph One
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:13 am

Re: Interesting statement in Romans 15

Post by Aleph One » Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:26 pm

Very interesting find! I was just reading Thomas E. Phillips's When Did Paul Become a Christian?: Rereading Paul’s Autobiography in Galatians and Biography in Acts in Essays in Honor of Dennis R. MacDonald where he posits:
I quickly came to believe that nearly all scholars, even the most widely respected critical scholars of the Pauline letters and Acts, tended to crossbreed the “real Paul” of the letters with the early church’s memory of Paul in Acts, thus, creating a third sort of thing, a hybrid stepson of Paul and Luke.
And then goes on to suggest that:
Let me suggest that we would read Galatians 1 as an account of how Paul, as a follower of Christ, nonviolently opposed Gentile inclusion into the church on the basis of his understanding of Judaism (and God’s promises to the Jews regarding the Messiah), and of how Paul received a dramatic revelation from God which completely altered his views regarding Gentile inclusion into the people of God
In other words that every time we read Paul's letters and assume he is talking about his conversion to christ, or converting others to christ, what he's really talking about is his (or their) acceptance of a law-free gentile inclusion in the church. I mostly mention it because I happen to be reading it at the moment but the essay at least provides one alternative interpretation of this difficult aspect of Paul's texts.

Posts: 626
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:24 am
Location: Sunnyvale, CA

Re: Interesting statement in Romans 15

Post by Stuart » Mon Jan 18, 2021 1:46 pm

I am highly skeptical about chapter 15 being part of the original letter, and also that the address was to Rome.

First the closing doxology, Romans 16:25-27, is not fixed in place. It variably is placed after chapter 14, 15, and 16 depending upon the manuscript. The implication being that at some point of time chapter 15 ended the letter, and at yet another point of time chapter 14 ended the letter. We know the Marcionite version likely ended somewhere in chapter 14, at least after verse 14:10 (the last known citation). If I am correct in my view that the Marcionite versions of Paul are frozen from most major addition at the point they broke with the main church, and so ceased to accrue material which manuscripts in the mainstream of the church continued to add, then we are looking at some intermediate version of the letters (to the extent we can reconstruct them, which is only partial and incomplete). But be that as it may, the evidence of an earlier version than our received text ending after chapter 14 has both Marcionite and doxology support.

The second point is the uncertainty of the address to the Romans. A few western manuscripts (G g 1739-margin) lack the address "in Rome" (ἐν Ῥώμῃ) in verses 1:7 and 1:15. This may or may not be an WNI. I tend to lean toward it being so because Ephesians also lacks address in the best manuscripts (P46 ℵ* B* 1739 Origen, Marcion?), which is what allowed the Laodiceans versus Ephesians prescript controversy. Clabeaux rightly points out the grammatical connection between Ephesians 1:1 and the Western text of Romans. HE makes a convincing argument the writer of Ephesians had Romans in addition to Colossians in front of him. Thus Ephesians adds an extremely early witness to Romans at one point lacking address, being encyclical, or at least the Western text of the early verses is extremely old.

The prescript was to Rome, which no doubt led to the address being corrected to Rome. But the prescripts are all much later than the letters, and appear to have come into existence with the binding of a group of the letters together, appearing in the margin. What this suggests is that a legend of the letters being addressed to Rome was early and uncontested, unlike Ephesians where the earliest evidence, e.g., Colossians and the Marcionite prologues, point to Laodicea as at least as early as Ephesus and perhaps earlier. In any case the reason the prescript and then the place name in both Romans and Ephesians came into being is because the other Pauline letters had location addresses; binding into a collection demanded an address.

I will go a bit further in my doubts on Romans. It is my view that the original opening of Romans 1:1-7 was quite probably nearly identical to Ephesians 1:1. All the material about being called and the creed about the Gospel of God and the seed of David and such, was added later by the editor who arranged the reordered collection and placed Romans first. The creed was the Catholic sect, and spoke of the source of Paul's authority. The Marcionite collection had a similar expansion of it's head letter, Galatians, which included their creed of of Paul's authority (verse 1:1 but without "God the father", as they preached that Christ had the power to raise himself from the dead without aid of the father). The point being, like the addresses, the creeds espousing the source of authority come into being with the binding of the collection, not with the first writing.

Chapter 15 is closely related with the post-Pauline writer who inserted the creed in Romans 1:1-6 that emphasizes a Gospel of God (not Christ) and Davidic Christ, with repeated calls to glorify God and reference in 15:12 to Davidic Christ through the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10), also part of the most un-Pauline of gospels, Matthew 12:21. We are dealing in this chapter with a later hand, a different theology.

Paul's supposed itinerary is therefore an addition, drawn from legend or apocryphal Acts. We also cannot rule out that it fits some agenda of the later writer more than any attachment to the historical Paul (if there is one) and his travels. But it still says a lot. When the writer says Illycrium he is referring to the Adriatic coastline adjacent to Macedonia and may only mean as far as today's Albania rather than all the way up to Trieste at the Slovenian border with Italy. It is essentially an admission that Christianity at the time of the writing is confined to the east, primarily the Greek heartlands (Greece and Turkey today) with a claim to reach to Jerusalem. As this is a later secondary addition, it suggests that even well into the 2nd century Christianity had not yet penetrated the West. Or at least the Italian region of fledgling churches had no solid historical connection at that point. So writing in a back story connecting Paul in this letter and in Acts to the Roman church. Acts includes Malta and Sicily, Crete and Cyprus making Paul the maritime apostle.

Obedience of the Gentiles theme is purely sectarian material, and must be posthumous Paul speaking. The itinerary is not relevant to Paul, but to his legend, and to the myths each local church and shrine needs (along with some relics) to claim legitimacy. (This is not a feature unique to Christianity, all religions need a connection to saints for their holy sites.) I would not for a minute believe the stories are more than legend.

Post Reply