Kasemann romans



Keywords: kasemann romans
Description: "The analysis and interpretation of v. 17 [in Romans 1] is all the more important since this verse, no less debated than the subject matter as a whole, is the fork in the road for all subsequent exposition. At least in the course of the last century we have freed ourselves from the Greek understanding…

“The analysis and interpretation of v. 17 [in Romans 1] is all the more important since this verse, no less debated than the subject matter as a whole, is the fork in the road for all subsequent exposition.  At least in the course of the last century we have freed ourselves from the Greek understanding of dikaiosyne as a norm of what is right for God and man…The setting in the history of religions of the Pauline theologoumenon is provided by the OT and Judaism…In biblical usage righteousness, which is essentially forensic, denotes a relation in which one is set, namely, the ‘recognition’ in which one, for example, is acknowledged to be innocent.  In Jewish apocalyptic this understanding is applied to the verdict of justification at the last judgment…

Previously it was not clear whether the righteousness of God is a divine quality or the gift given to mankind…A complete history of the interpretation of dikaiosyne theou in Paul can scarcely be given here since it would embrace many volumes.  Yet the range of interpretation must be seen paradigmatically in order to avoid escaping the problems of exegeting this passage through shortcuts, as has happened up to the present…

Even reference to Paul’s christology as the reason for the difference [between Paul and Judaism] remains within the sphere of a purely historical explanation and does not answer the material theological question.  This question runs as follows: Why and to what extent does Paul view the righteousness of God sine lege [apart from law] and sola fide [faith alone] as the content of the gospel and the end-time gift pure and simple?  That it has to be regarded as God’s gift is not derived only from Phil. 3:9 but is apparent everywhere, and allows the righteousness of God and the righteousness of faith to be equated…

[There is an] older, and as such superseded, understanding of the righteousness of God as a divine quality which lays hold of mankind.  Subjected to sharp criticism was a presumed ‘Reformation’ interpretation which paid attention only to the gift the believer receives…[Another] position argued that dikaiosyne theou is a subjective genitive that from the beginning expresses an action of God, and rejected an understanding which relates only to the individual…The mark of this understanding, which is a variation of the older idea of righteousness as a divine quality, is the presupposition that Paul’s genitive construction denotes a nomen actionis and designates the eschatological action of salvation…The attribute of God is the saving activity of God.  Against this line of interpretation, which now seems predominant, the following objections arise: it unduly neglects the Pauline characteristic that the righteousness granted to faith is a gift; it frequently overlooks the forensic and apocalyptic horizon of the Pauline expression; it simply makes righteousness an alternative form for the mercy, kindness, and love of God.  The same battle lines still exist, fundamentally the same although in modern form…

In Judaism God’s righteousness has a field of radiation and a place of manifestation, which fits well with [certain] Pauline texts…Paul himself permits us to reconcile the apparent contradiction, for power and gift are not true antitheses in his eyes…Paul designates the gospel which is revealed and given to Christians simultaneously as the power of God.  The apostle’s christology treats nothing other than Christ as in the full sense God’s gift for us–‘given for us’–and yet no less our Lord…the apostle knows of no gift that does not also challenge us to responsibility, thereby showing itself as a power over us and creating a place of service for us.  Conversely, he knows no God who can be isolated from his creation, only the God who is manifest in his creation in judgment and grace, and who acts in relation to it as Lord…it is in reality God himself who enters the earthly sphere in what he grants to us.

If this is so, however, the interpretation of the phrase ‘righteousness of God’ in Paul is no longer a problem.  It speaks of the God who brings back the fallen world into the sphere of his legitimate claim, whether in promise or demand, in new creation or forgiveness, or in the making possible of our service…With recourse to the Kyrios [Lord] acclamation we may summarize the whole message of the epistle in the brief and paradoxical statement that the Son of God is as our Kyrios the one eschatological gift of God to us and that herein is revealed simultaneously both God’s legitimate claim on us and also our salvation…

Because of his christological connection and basis Paul must  identify the righteousness of God with the righteousness of faith and let the stress fall on the conferred gift of salvation.  On this account, however, standing in salvation is both here and everywhere standing in obedience, that is, in the presence and under the power of Christ.  To this extent Paul’s doctrine of justification is simply a precise theological variation of the primitive Christian proclamation of the kingdom of God as eschatological salvation.” (Ernst Kasemann. Commentary on Romans. pp. 24-29)






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