Romans 1:2-6 – An anti-Marcionite Interpolation?
1:3 concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,
1:4 was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord,
1:5 through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name's sake;
1:7 to all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.
Much of the following argument derives from points made by Hermann Detering’s “The Falsified Paul” (JHC vol.10, no.2 Fall, 2003). The criteria used are from William Walker’s “Interpolations in the Pauline Letters”.
“Which he promised afore through his prophets in the holy scriptures”: This passage is a digression about the gospel Paul preaches and it stands oddly in the middle of a personal greeting at the opening of a letter. One is led to imagine an author in advanced state of dementia who loses track of what he is saying and wanders off before he can even finish a conventional “Hello, I’m Paul, I’m very glad to see you!” and thereby wandering off into possibly the longest letter opening in history.
Another conceptual jarring within these opening lines is one claim that Paul’s apostleship is of singular importance and set him apart for a “separate” function (1:1) and another that his apostleship is a communal “we” affair (1:5). There is no obvious room for both these views side by side: is the author feeling a bit on the bipolar side with the very first lines of his essay?
The longer text is not only unique in its length for an ancient letter but forms a clumsy transition to 1:7 by its awkwardly adjacent repetitions of what they are called to be:
Among whom are ye also called to be Jesus Christ's:
To all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints
Without 1:2-6 we find that Rom.1:1 is followed naturally and smoothly, and consistently with ancient letters, by 1:7. Indeed, that 1:1 directly anticipated 1:7 is seen by the dual threefold conceptual correspondence:
a servant of Jesus Christ,
called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God
To all that are in Rome,
beloved of God,
called to be saints
3. Ideational evidence for interpolation: 1:3, by virtue of being at the opening of the letter as an explanation of the very gospel Paul preaches, imputes great significance to the idea that Jesus was the Son of David. This contradicts Paul’s firm insistence elsewhere that he has no interest in the fleshly lineage or heritage of Jesus, even dismissing any such interest as a waste of time:
Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer (2 Cor.5:16)
Later in Romans the author further says that Jesus came to earth only in “the likeness” of sinful flesh, thus again contradicting the idea that he could have been a literal Son of David:
God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom.8:3)
The opening verses introduce the adoptionist doctrine that Jesus was only declared to be the Son of God at the resurrection. This also contradicts Romans 8:3 (quoted above) where the author accepts that it was “his Son” that God sent to earth, ostensibly “as” His Son, prior to any death and resurrection.
1:5 speaks of the Romans’ “obedience to the faith”. Yet one of the widely accepted features of “the genuine” Pauline letters is his concept of faith as an act or a mental state or response. The Pastorals, on the other hand, view faith as a regulatory set of teachings or dogma to which one subscribes. Partly for this reason the Pastorals are widely thought to be non-Pauline. So when we read in 1:3 of “obedience to the faith” we must think of this sort of faith as something that can be obeyed, i.e., as a non-Pauline understanding of the term.
Neil Godfrey @ http://vridar.org