Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Julian V. Hills
Deirdre A. Dempsey
William S. Kurz, Mickey L. Mattox, Andrei A. Orlov
In this study, I attempt to reconstruct Paul's pre-epistolary exegesis of Genesis that I hypothesize lies beneath Rom 9. This exegesis goes beyond the discussion of the patriarchs in Rom 9:6-13 and supports the reconfiguration of God's family in Rom 9:24-29. It enables Paul to view Israel as simultaneously chosen and rejected by God.
Adopting a method from Carol Stockhausen, I offer several criteria to establish this project's legitimacy. The Pauline exegesis that I propose is plausible to the extent that (1) it is rooted in his text; (2) it is historically credible; (3) it illuminates the argument in Rom 9; and (4) it resolves difficulties elsewhere in Romans.
Throughout his letters, Paul uses the stories of Abraham to create textual space in Genesis for Gentile believers in Christ. Outside of Romans, this results in an ethnically undifferentiated "Israel of God" (Gal 6:16). In Rom 4, however, Jews and Gentiles constitute separate lines of descent within one Abrahamic family.
In Rom 9, Paul resumes this mode of locating Gentiles among Abraham's children. The pentateuchal texts elucidating the election of the patriarchs (9:7, 9, 12) and the prophetic quotations vindicating God's inclusive call (9:25-29) are connected to each other by several links. If these are valid, then Hosea and Isaiah do not stand alone but extend and subvert the pattern of the chosen and rejected sons that Paul finds in Genesis. By juxtaposing texts from Torah and the Prophets, he creates separate genealogies yet intertwined destinies for Jewish and Gentile descendants of Abraham.
I seek to substantiate this hypothesis by arguing for the following claims, each corresponding to a recognized exegetical problem. First, Paul reads Gentiles into Hosea by typologically identifying them with Abraham's excluded children. Second, Paul presumes that they will inherit Abraham's territorial promise. Third, Paul uses the Isaian texts that speak of a remnant to effect a division within Israel. Fourth, Paul derives his theology of the remnant from Genesis rather than Isaiah. Finally, Paul's mode of argument, which seems to make contrary statements concerning Israel's chosen status, reenacts the ironic narrative of patriarchal election.