Evil, Suffering, And The Righteousness Of God According To Romans 1-3 -- By: Erwin Ochsenmeier
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Evil, Suffering, And The Righteousness Of God According To Romans 1-3
An Exegetical And Theological Study1
Through the centuries, many who have dealt with the issue of evil and suffering have at some point interacted with the Epistle to the Romans (Augustine, Leibnitz, Moltmann, Ricœur, etc.). But such dialogue is often limited to parts of the Epistle after Romans 4. Occasionally one will find an attempted dialogue with Romans 4 and the role of Abraham (e.g. Moltmann). Such use of the Epistle is not without warrant in the text. Indeed, after Paul has just finished advocating the justification of all by faith, he immediately evokes the afflictions in which ‘we boast’ (Rom. 5:3). Yet questions should be raised: Why this sudden and seemingly unprepared mention of the problem of evil and suffering? Is this really the first occurrence of the problem of the suffering of the believers in the Epistle? Is there a link between evil and suffering in Romans and the issue of the righteousness of God? Is the Epistle meant to encourage the Roman Christians in adverse circumstances? If so, how can the whole Epistle be used today in talking about evil and suffering? Rather than starting from Romans 5 to answer these questions, this work has tried to see whether Paul paved the way for his treatment of suffering in the early chapters of his letter.
This dissertation touches upon several disciplines: exegesis, biblical theology, philosophy, and the history of reading and writing and the use of memory in antiquity. This interdisciplinary approach is an attempt to go beyond the compartmentalisation of the fields of
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knowledge resulting from today’s (over?)specialisation, with all the risks involved in such an attempt. Given time and space constraints, and even though I am convinced that Romans 1-4 should be considered as one argument, the thesis concentrates on Romans 1:1– 3:26.
The first chapter is a brief summary of Pauline studies in the twentieth century, focusing particularly on Romans and the issue of evil, suffering and the righteousness of God. Such a survey is arranged in two stages: from Schweitzer to E. P. Sanders, and from Sanders to today (theodicy in Romans, political theology, Romans and Empire, etc.). It concludes that little has actually been done in reading the first chapters of Romans with the issue of evil and suffering in mind.
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