Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Boast

In Romans (and Galatians) St Paul is at pains to exclude some sort of "boasting" before God.  It is explicitly condemned in 3:27, being excluded by the "nomos of Faith."  What is this boast? Most often, I've heard, and paradigmatically assumed, that it is a boast of law completion; I've kept the law, so I have something of which to boast of before God and man (implying that I can then leveraged that boast into some sort of earned salvation scheme -- effectively tying God's hands).  However, the first place in Romans St Paul uses the word is 2:17, where the boast is not in nomic performance, but a "boast in God," which seems -- utilizing 9:4-5 -- to be a boast in terms of election: the Judean has confidence before God because of his privileged covenantal status (granted initially by God via Abraham and later through Moses), which can be backed up (at this point as proof, not as merit) by circumcision and nomic obedience.

It goes without saying, I think, that this changes a good deal of how the early chapters in Romans are to be interpreted.

H/T to the book I'm reading: Douglas Campbell, The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans: 2009).

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