Lectionary Year A
August 4, 2002
Romans 9:1-5

Step II: Disposition

A. Genre

(JFC) This paragraph opens with an emphatic claim to be authentic and real for its author. He expresses miserable anguish that some of his "family" are outside the loop into which he describes as worth his sacrificing himself to admit them. Then he lists several of the ways their inclusion has been assured, evidently unbeknownst to them. He concludes this article with praise to the omnipotent God. C. H. Dodd says it might be a sermon, but such a designation might mean something different from our use of the term. Others used to call these three chapters (9-11) "a diatribe, a philosophical discussion or conversation evolved by a Cynic and Stoic schools of philosophy as a means of popularizing their ideas (E. Kasemann, Romans, 261 and 267). But other recent scholars have challenged the idea that Rom. 9-11 is characterized by diatribe. Scholars like R. Scroggs and E. E. Ellis have instead identified the material in question as midrash. . ." So states the footnotes in the New English Translation. Still, these first verses seem more like an introductory qualification of what follows.

B. Personal Interaction

(JFC) First I wondered why he has to emphasize his truth telling; has he been accused of fraud, of perjury, is he paranoid, or what? Or, do those accusations apply only to 21st century corporations like Enron, WorldCom, Xerox, Bristol-Meyers, etc.? So, does he really intend to sacrifice himself for his kinsfolk or is he exaggerating merely to make his point? Then, too, of course, how do we read the conclusion? What of its punctuation?

C. Organization

(JFC) The emphatic truth-telling-claim fills the first verse. The second expresses his anguish and the third his willingness to take their place. The concluding verse is 5.

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