Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ridderbos, Moo, and Fee on Romans 7

I still plan to argue my own position on this much-disputed text, but for now, consider what these men have to say:

"It is this redemptive-historical contrast of the old and the new (7:6) which governs everything and in the light of which one is to answer the anthropological questions. If, on the other hand, one turns the matter about and takes his point of departure in the anthropological description of what is then conceived as the struggle between the old and the new man, it is no longer to be comprehended how one could still maintain the real, redemptive-historical theme of these chapters (the antithesis between law and Spirit) in an intelligible manner." Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline Of His Theology, 143-44.

"... This clause ['I was once alive apart from the law'] depicts the situation of Israel before the giving of the law at Sinai—when sins were not yet 'being reckoned' (5:13).... Paul is looking back, from his Christian understanding, to the situation of himself, and other Jews like him, living under the law of Moses.... We might say, then, that Rom. 7:14-25 describes from a personal viewpoint the stage in salvation history that Paul delineates objectively in Gal. 3:19 – 4:3." Douglas Moo, Romans, 437, 448.

"The personal dimension thus refers to life under Torah. That, and that alone, is under scrutiny.... Whatever else, this passage does not describe a struggle within the believer between his or her flesh and the Spirit, but rather describes what it is like to be under the Law while in the clutches of sin and the flesh; and according to both 7:1-6 and 8:1-4 for the believer that all belongs to the past." Gordon Fee, God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, 513. Fee also cites Romans 7:5 ("When we were in the flesh, the passions of the flesh used to be at work, aroused as they were through the law") adding, "Only a theological or existential a priori can get around something as transparent as that."