Renewing The Mind -- By: Lee S. Bond

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 58:2 (NA 2007)
Article: Renewing The Mind
Author: Lee S. Bond


Renewing The Mind

The Role Of Cognition Language In Pauline Theology And Ethics1

Lee S. Bond

The main purpose of this thesis is to examine the role of cognition language within Paul’s theological and ethical arguments. I begin my study with questions concerning Paul’s concept of mind renewal and how this topic relates to both his theology and his ethics. Romans 12:2 is one of the most well known and often quoted verses in all of the New Testament: Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Käsemann and others have noted that 12:2 is part of a bridging passage that links Paul’s doctrinal statements of the previous eleven chapters with the ethical exhortations of chapters 12-16. As such, the verse stands at the centre of Paul’s theology and ethics. Nevertheless, there is a problem with how the admonitions Paul delivers in Romans 12-16 follow from and/or are integral to the theological claims of Romans 1-11. I found the proposed solutions to this problem unsatisfactory. Thus, my study challenges the way scholars have traditionally understood the relationship between Paul’s theology and ethics, while at the same time offering a new proposal. I argue that Paul uses cognition language to link his theological propositions to his ethical admonitions. Moreover, the apostle’s ethical exhortations were directly based on the message and known character of Christ which Paul proclaimed. In short, the thesis explores Paul’s understanding of the relationship between the work of Christ, the human mind, and the will. The study has two distinct, yet interrelated objectives.

My main objective is to explore Paul’s concept of mind renewal by analysing the noun φρόνηµα (mind-set, way of thinking) and its cognates within Romans and Philippians. Within all of Paul’s letters,

but especially in Romans and Philippians, Paul consistently employs language associated with human cognition or reasoning. I demonstrate how φρόνηµα and cognates relate to Paul’s scheme of the renewed mind in these letters.

My second objective is to explore how the apostle employs cognition language to link his theology with his ethics. How these two dimensions of Paul’s gospel relate to one another has been a source of fruitful debate for many years. I attempt to show h...

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