Evil, Suffering, and the Righteousness of God in Romans
The complete reference of the book is Erwin Ochsenmeier, Mal, souffrance et justice de Dieu selon Romains 1-3 : Étude exégétique et théologique , Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 155, de Gruyter: New-York, Berlin, 2007, 23 x 15,5 cm. XII, 392 pages. Relié. ISBN 978-3-11-019696-2.
The book is a revised version of my Ph. D. dissertation presented in March 2007 at the Faculté Libre de Théologie Évangélique de Vaux-sur-Seine (France).
This a brief summary of the thesis (see the abstract in Tyndale Bulletin 59.1 (2008): 153–155).
Though many who have dealt with the issue of evil, suffering, and theodicy have at some point interacted with the Epistle to the Romans (Augustine, Leibnitz, Moltmann, Ricœur, etc.), such dialogue is oftentimes done without much interaction with Romans 1–3. Yet the issue of evil and suffering repeatedly surfaces in the epistle very early on (see the context of Habakkuk 2, quoted in Rom. 1.17). Futhermore there seems to be a link between this issue and the righteousness of God.
Though this dissertation is primarily exegetical in nature, it touches upon several disciplines: exegesis, biblical theology, philosophy, and the history of reading and writing and the use of memory in Antiquity. Given time and space constraints the thesis concentrates on Rom. 1:1–3:26.
The first chapter is a brief summary of Pauline studies in the twentieth century and shows that little has been done in studying the issue of evil, suffering, and theodicy in Romans. The second and longest chapter is a commentary on Rom. 1:1–3:26 in dialogue with every Septuagint (LXX) passage quoted by Paul. The third chapter is a treatment of the use of the OT in Romans 1–3 and a justification for taking the LXX into account. It also criticizes the frequent neglect of empirical data related to memory and writing in Antiquity in some intertextual theories as well as their dependence on structural and poststructural studies, especially as it relates to the referential nature of literature. This is done especially in interaction with Richard Hays and C. D. Stanley. It then takes Rom. 3:10–18 as a case study. The chapter concludes with a brief survey of the data on evil, suffering, and the righteousness of God available from the contexts of the passages quoted by Paul. It is argued that Habakkuk, the whole of the book, functions as a thematic introduction to Romans, and that Abraham and David, through the use of the Psalms in Rom. 1–4, function as figures for the believer that exemplify the hope of the righteous one who is faced with suffering and the threat of death, a theme introduced by the use of Habakkuk in 1.17.
The fourth chapter tackles the issue of the righteousness of God in Romans 1–3 in light of the previous chapters and the use of the LXX by Paul and argues that the rigtheousness of God is the foundation for the Christian hope and that this hope rests on the power of God demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus, his victory over death, a major theme in Romans, explicitly linked with God’s power and the OT in Rom. 1.1–4. The fifth chapter is a brief study of other passages in Romans (4; 5:1–11; 8:17–39; 12:9–13:7; and 15:1–13) and shows that what has been found in Rom. 1–3 is also present in the rest of the Epistle. The sixth chapter summarizes the finding of the dissertation and suggests venues for more work. This is done in interaction with some theological and philosophical literature, with a focus on Jürgen Moltmann and, to a lesser extend, Paul Ricœur.
Some of these points were presented in these conferences:
- “A Theology of Hope: A Proposal for Reading Romans,” Facharbeitsgruppe Neues Testament (FAGNT), Marbourg, March 2007
- “Romans 13, Political Theology, and the Use of the Old Testament in Romans,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Washington, D. C., November 2006
- “Habakkuk and Social Issues in Romans,” paper presented at the triennial conference of the Tyndale Fellowship, Nantwich (UK), July 2006
- “Life, Death, and Christology in Romans,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Atlanta, November 2003
In English see also:
- “Romans 1.20: Knowing God Through His Acts in History” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 100/1 (2009): 45–58
- “Romans 1.11–12: A Clue to the Purpose of Romans?” Ephemerides Theologicæ Lovanienses 83/4 (2007): 395–406
- Again see the abstract in Tyndale Bulletin 59.1 (2008): 153–155.
- Download the errata.