Cosmic conflict and the divine warrior in Paul's letter to the Romans.


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Scholars of the New Testament have noted the ways in which first century CE writers utilize and transform themes related to Israel’s divine conflict traditions, most notably in the Johannine Apocalypse, Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, and the letter to the Ephesians. Yet in spite of the interest in the apocalyptic tenor of Paul’s letter to the Romans, along with inquiries into his understanding of the “principalities and powers” (1 Cor 15:24; Rom 8:35–39; cf. Eph 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:10, 15), few readers have examined the possibility that the cosmic conflict depicted in Romans signals the apostle Paul’s adaptation of the pervasive Jewish divine conflict motifs—specifically the image of God as a warrior—found in the Hebrew Bible, the septuagint, and other Jewish literature. In this study, I investigate Paul’s use of the image of God as divine warrior in his letter to the Romans by means of placing this missive in conversation with the literary works of Paul’s Jewish predecessors and near contemporaries. The first part of the study identifies motifs related to divine conflict in Exodus, Amos, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, along with 1 Enoch, Psalms of Solomon, Wisdom of Solomon, the War Scroll (1QM), and 4 Ezra. These Jewish documents offer evidence of the motifs available to Paul as he crafts his articulation of the gospel and provide one means of constructing the “encyclopedia” of Paul’s context. In the second stage of the study, I turn to Paul’s letter to the Romans and place the findings from the preceding investigation in dialogue with Paul’s letter. When Romans and these Jewish texts are place alongside one another, Paul emerges as a writer who participates in the Jewish divine conflict tradition. The apostle maintains Israel’s eschatological hope in a warrior deity and modifies that image in light of God’s action in the Christ-event.



Death. Divine conflict. Divine war. Divine warrior. Paul. Peace. Powers. Romans. Sin. War.