Paul and ethnicity : a socio-historical study of Romans
Mbevi, Misheck Mutua
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Despite the fact that the majority of scholars agree that Paul’s letter to the Romans was written to address the Judean-Gentile ethnic divide in Rome, there is still a continued failure to follow through with the avenues that this position opens up for the study of Romans. Traditionally, Paul’s letter to the Romans has been read as a theological tractate, a reading that assumes an ideational or theological interpretation of the letter to the exclusion of Paul’s ethnic rhetoric present in the letter and how it might have related and even addressed the tangible relations between real-world Judeans and Gentiles in first century antiquity. This study investigates just that: how might Paul’s ethnic rhetoric have addressed the Judean-Gentile ethnic divide in Rome. After the introduction, the study reviews the current state of scholarship with regard to Paul and ethnicity in Romans. This then is followed by an elaborate socio-historical exploration of Judean-Gentile ethnicities and relations in ancient antiquity and the specific Roman context into which Paul’s letter was addressed. The impact of those relations to the origins of the early Christian movement in Rome and significant points of coherence between the socio-historical context and Paul’s letter are also established. Having established the socio-historical context, Paul’s ethnic rhetoric in Romans 1-4 is probed for how it might have addressed the Judean-Gentile ethnic divide and realised unity among them.
- Theology