Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

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Scribe B
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Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

Post by Scribe B »

Hello everyone. Longtime lurker, now first time poster. Reading this forum has been extremely helpful in researching early sources and information regarding early Christianity origins. Unfortunately, I find the more I learn, the more I learn how much I don’t know—which is a bit humbling. Still, the quest for answers must continue (even if the chances of finding them are very slim).

Anyway, my question in the title came about after reading the following in wikipedia’s entry for Romans in regards to chapters 15 & 16 being possible add-ons:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_t ... apter_form
The Codex Boernerianus lacks the explicit references to the Roman church as the audience of the epistle found in Romans 1:7 and 1:15. There is evidence from patristic commentaries indicating that Boernarianus is not unique in this regard; many early, no longer extant manuscripts also lacked an explicit Roman addressee in Chapter 1.[13]:31 It is notable that, when this textual variant is combined with the omission of Chapters 15 and 16, there is no longer any clear reference to the Roman church throughout the entire epistle. Harry Gamble speculates that 1:7, 1:15, and Chapters 15 and 16 may have been removed by a scribe in order to make the epistle more suitable for a "general" audience.[14]:29ff
I admit, I was a bit surprised to learn that besides the last two chapters, the only direct references to Rome are in 1:7 and 1:15. But maybe I shouldn't have been because the body of Romans doesn't directly address a specific audience or location. It just mostly lays out Paul's doctrine or testament.

Anyway. Without going too deep into the weeds, it seems there isn't much historical evidence of 1st century christianity in Rome. Just thinking out loud, perhaps a very early editor took this existing letter (or a general sermon) and deemed it idiologically necessary to commandeer it for a better sounding audience than what was originally intended. Along with some references in Acts, this would help establish the later 'orthodox' thought of christians in Rome before 2nd century A.D.

Which leads to my main question. Was Romans originally intended for those living in Rome? If not, who was the original intended audience? Also, what early evidence is there for the 14 chapter version besides the Codex Boernerianus? And is it more compelling than evidence for the 16 chapter (or even 15 chapter) version(s)? There seems to be a lot of smoke around those last two chapters..
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Re: Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

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Scribe B wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 5:11 pm Hello everyone. Longtime lurker, now first time poster.
Welcome to the forum!
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Re: Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

Post by mlinssen »

Scribe B wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 5:11 pm Hello everyone. Longtime lurker, now first time poster. Reading this forum has been extremely helpful in researching early sources and information regarding early Christianity origins. Unfortunately, I find the more I learn, the more I learn how much I don’t know—which is a bit humbling. Still, the quest for answers must continue (even if the chances of finding them are very slim).

Anyway, my question in the title came about after reading the following in wikipedia’s entry for Romans in regards to chapters 15 & 16 being possible add-ons:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_t ... apter_form
The Codex Boernerianus lacks the explicit references to the Roman church as the audience of the epistle found in Romans 1:7 and 1:15. There is evidence from patristic commentaries indicating that Boernarianus is not unique in this regard; many early, no longer extant manuscripts also lacked an explicit Roman addressee in Chapter 1.[13]:31 It is notable that, when this textual variant is combined with the omission of Chapters 15 and 16, there is no longer any clear reference to the Roman church throughout the entire epistle. Harry Gamble speculates that 1:7, 1:15, and Chapters 15 and 16 may have been removed by a scribe in order to make the epistle more suitable for a "general" audience.[14]:29ff
I admit, I was a bit surprised to learn that besides the last two chapters, the only direct references to Rome are in 1:7 and 1:15. But maybe I shouldn't have been because the body of Romans doesn't directly address a specific audience or location. It just mostly lays out Paul's doctrine or testament.

Anyway. Without going too deep into the weeds, it seems there isn't much historical evidence of 1st century christianity in Rome. Just thinking out loud, perhaps a very early editor took this existing letter (or a general sermon) and deemed it idiologically necessary to commandeer it for a better sounding audience than what was originally intended. Along with some references in Acts, this would help establish the later 'orthodox' thought of christians in Rome before 2nd century A.D.

Which leads to my main question. Was Romans originally intended for those living in Rome? If not, who was the original intended audience? Also, what early evidence is there for the 14 chapter version besides the Codex Boernerianus? And is it more compelling than evidence for the 16 chapter (or even 15 chapter) version(s)? There seems to be a lot of smoke around those last two chapters..
Welcome! What happened to Scribe A? :eh:

There are three manuscripts that attest to the absence of Rome in 1:7; G; Or 1739 mg

G = Codex Boernerianus, 9th CE
Or = ???
1739 is a Marginal Reading here, dated to 10th

Only G also omits 1:15

Can't help you with the other questions, alas
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Irish1975
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Re: Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

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There are reasons to doubt that Romans was (a) a letter, (b) addressed to a particular group or church, (c) addressed to a church in Rome in particular, or even (d) written by a first-generation Christian such as the historical Paul is believed to be. Thus W.C. Van Manen, the Dutch critic from over a century ago, now basically ignored or deprecated in the scholarship:
However patient we may be in the matter of salutations, it is difficult to find truth and not fiction in the words, "All the Churches of Christ salute you" (aspazpmtai humas ai ekkl�siai pasai tou Christou, 16:16). The contents generally are those of a book rather than of a letter. Neither the doctrinal nor the hortatory discourses which succeed one another seem more adapted to the needs of the Christians at Rome than anywhere else. Viewing the work as an Epistle, we try in vain to form any idea of the relation between the writer and his readers. No light is thrown on this relation either by the Acts of the Apostles or by tradition. According to tradition, Peter and Paul were the founders of the community at Rome; whereas it fellows quite clearly from the Epistle that the Christians addressed were such before the writer had ever seen them face to face.

We get no more light from the details, which indeed frequently give contradictory impressions. The faith of the Roman Christians is spoken of throughout the whole world (1:8); so that the Apostle can put it on a level with his own (1:12): and yet he speaks of himself as striving to preach the Gospel not where Christ was named, lest he should build upon another man's foundation (15:20). No explanation has succeeded in making it comprehensible why Paul should address such a "letter" to Christians personally unknown to him at Rome. In no traditional record do we come upon a trace of any impression, favorable or unfavorable, made by it among those to whom it is supposed to have been addressed. And yet it was not the kind of letter to be simply received, read, and laid aside. So various are the contents that grounds can be assigned with equal show of reason for holding that the community at Rome consisted of Jewish Christians, of heathen Christians, and of a mixture of both. Sometimes, indeed, the work seems to be meant even for Jews and heathens who are outside Christianity. The result of the whole examination is that-whoever wrote it-we have before us, not an epistle in the proper sense of the term, but a book, a treatise in epistolary form.
...
To speak more bluntly, the uncertainty in which we are often left as to the writer's meaning is due to the presence of contradictory utterances. This is how things appear when we no longer see the head of the venerable Apostle surrounded with the nimbus that for ages adorned it --when he has become for us simply a human figure from whom we expect only the possible and the probable. That a zealous preacher of the Gospel who hoped ere long to pay a visit to the Christians at Rome should write to them beforehand a lengthy and obscure epistle in a tone of apostolic authority is possible, but it is not probable. ... All evidence as to the effect of the Epistle on the Roman Christians is wanting. According to the ordinary view, it was sent about 59. After that there is no trace of it until, more than half a century later, we find it held in honour by-the Gnostics! Where was it preserved before it came, we know not how, into the hands of men like Basilides and Marcion?
...
By the time when the Epistle to the Romans was written there already existed a whole vocabulary of technical terms belonging to Paulinism. With these the reader is assumed to be familiar. "Faith" and "grace," "righteousness" and "love," "justification by faith" and "by works of the law," and so forth (see note below), are used without any feeling of difficulty in altogether peculiar senses. There are all sorts of standing questions connected with the Pauline Gospel. Is there, where Jews and Greeks are concerned, respect of persons with God (pros�pol�mpsia para t� The�, 2:11)? Has the Jew, as such, any advantage over the Greek, seeing that both sin? In what sense may Abraham be called the father of Christians? If the Christian no longer lives under law, but under grace, is there not a danger that he may think sin permitted to him ? How to explain the rejection of Israel? The readers of the Epistle know and have accepted Paulinism as a peculiar form of doctrine ("You have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching into which you were delivered," 6:17). Now, all this tells against its supposed early origin. If, on the other hand, the existence of a Pauline community or group at Rome about the year 59 is treated as a fiction of the writer, who lived in a later generation, there is no difficulty in the case.
De Brief aan de Romeinen (1891)
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Re: Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

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Irish1975 wrote: Fri Aug 06, 2021 2:51 pm There are reasons to doubt that Romans was (a) a letter, (b) addressed to a particular group or church, (c) addressed to a church in Rome in particular, or even (d) written by a first-generation Christian such as the historical Paul is believed to be. Thus W.C. Van Manen, the Dutch critic from over a century ago, now basically ignored or deprecated in the scholarship:
However patient we may be in the matter of salutations, it is difficult to find truth and not fiction in the words, "All the Churches of Christ salute you" (aspazpmtai humas ai ekkl�siai pasai tou Christou, 16:16). The contents generally are those of a book rather than of a letter. Neither the doctrinal nor the hortatory discourses which succeed one another seem more adapted to the needs of the Christians at Rome than anywhere else. Viewing the work as an Epistle, we try in vain to form any idea of the relation between the writer and his readers. No light is thrown on this relation either by the Acts of the Apostles or by tradition. According to tradition, Peter and Paul were the founders of the community at Rome; whereas it fellows quite clearly from the Epistle that the Christians addressed were such before the writer had ever seen them face to face.

We get no more light from the details, which indeed frequently give contradictory impressions. The faith of the Roman Christians is spoken of throughout the whole world (1:8); so that the Apostle can put it on a level with his own (1:12): and yet he speaks of himself as striving to preach the Gospel not where Christ was named, lest he should build upon another man's foundation (15:20). No explanation has succeeded in making it comprehensible why Paul should address such a "letter" to Christians personally unknown to him at Rome. In no traditional record do we come upon a trace of any impression, favorable or unfavorable, made by it among those to whom it is supposed to have been addressed. And yet it was not the kind of letter to be simply received, read, and laid aside. So various are the contents that grounds can be assigned with equal show of reason for holding that the community at Rome consisted of Jewish Christians, of heathen Christians, and of a mixture of both. Sometimes, indeed, the work seems to be meant even for Jews and heathens who are outside Christianity. The result of the whole examination is that-whoever wrote it-we have before us, not an epistle in the proper sense of the term, but a book, a treatise in epistolary form.
...
To speak more bluntly, the uncertainty in which we are often left as to the writer's meaning is due to the presence of contradictory utterances. This is how things appear when we no longer see the head of the venerable Apostle surrounded with the nimbus that for ages adorned it --when he has become for us simply a human figure from whom we expect only the possible and the probable. That a zealous preacher of the Gospel who hoped ere long to pay a visit to the Christians at Rome should write to them beforehand a lengthy and obscure epistle in a tone of apostolic authority is possible, but it is not probable. ... All evidence as to the effect of the Epistle on the Roman Christians is wanting. According to the ordinary view, it was sent about 59. After that there is no trace of it until, more than half a century later, we find it held in honour by-the Gnostics! Where was it preserved before it came, we know not how, into the hands of men like Basilides and Marcion?
...
By the time when the Epistle to the Romans was written there already existed a whole vocabulary of technical terms belonging to Paulinism. With these the reader is assumed to be familiar. "Faith" and "grace," "righteousness" and "love," "justification by faith" and "by works of the law," and so forth (see note below), are used without any feeling of difficulty in altogether peculiar senses. There are all sorts of standing questions connected with the Pauline Gospel. Is there, where Jews and Greeks are concerned, respect of persons with God (pros�pol�mpsia para t� The�, 2:11)? Has the Jew, as such, any advantage over the Greek, seeing that both sin? In what sense may Abraham be called the father of Christians? If the Christian no longer lives under law, but under grace, is there not a danger that he may think sin permitted to him ? How to explain the rejection of Israel? The readers of the Epistle know and have accepted Paulinism as a peculiar form of doctrine ("You have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching into which you were delivered," 6:17). Now, all this tells against its supposed early origin. If, on the other hand, the existence of a Pauline community or group at Rome about the year 59 is treated as a fiction of the writer, who lived in a later generation, there is no difficulty in the case.
De Brief aan de Romeinen (1891)
I'm actually translating van Manen at the moment, starting with Paulus I. His work is sharp and when starting from his 1865 thesis, it shows a gradual evolution. He combines most of Acts ff. in an attempt to dissect every story about Paul, and knows very well how to tell his own story among all stories told.
It's a pity indeed that his work isn't available in English - although you seem to have an exception there
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Irish1975
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Re: Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

Post by Irish1975 »

mlinssen wrote: Sat Aug 07, 2021 2:34 am I'm actually translating van Manen at the moment, starting with Paulus I. His work is sharp and when starting from his 1865 thesis, it shows a gradual evolution. He combines most of Acts ff. in an attempt to dissect every story about Paul, and knows very well how to tell his own story among all stories told.
It's a pity indeed that his work isn't available in English - although you seem to have an exception there
Excellent news! What I’ve read of Van Manen so far on the website that I linked to, the now defunct Journal of Higher Criticism, is superb. Until recently my only knowledge of the Dutch radicals was through Detering, who is ok, and RM Price, who is all over the place and always sounds like he’s describing a sci-fi plot. Van Manen doesn’t try to sell us on some bizarre theory of Simon Magus, but simply looks at the epistles with the cold eye of reason.
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Re: Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

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mlinssen wrote: Sat Aug 07, 2021 2:34 am I'm actually translating van Manen at the moment, starting with Paulus I.
very good news! Thank you! :cheers:
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Re: Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

Post by mlinssen »

Irish1975 wrote: Sat Aug 07, 2021 7:18 am Excellent news! What I’ve read of Van Manen so far on the website that I linked to, the now defunct Journal of Higher Criticism, is superb. Until recently my only knowledge of the Dutch radicals was through Detering, who is ok, and RM Price, who is all over the place and always sounds like he’s describing a sci-fi plot. Van Manen doesn’t try to sell us on some bizarre theory of Simon Magus, but simply looks at the epistles with the cold eye of reason.
Emphasis mine

That is exactly, exactly, what he does - very well put!
I missed your little link, too subtle for me. Interesting to see Kirby's site top their list https://depts.drew.edu/jhc/

Never knew he was such a rebel
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Re: Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

Post by flowers_grow »

A few years ago I started on translation of Van Manen's Paulus Volume 1, which is on Acts, but I have only translated the introduction and chapter 1 and part of chapter 2 so far.
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flowers_grow
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Re: Was Paul's Romans originally addressed to Romans?

Post by flowers_grow »

I've dug up my translation of van Manen's Paulus volume 1 (introduction and chapter 1) polished it and put it online. Enjoy! https://flowers-grow.github.io/paulus_1.html
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