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In my mind Rom 12:1-15:7 is not a convenient abstract of Pauline ethics and church life, it is rather, a vision for how the Roman house churches can indigenize the Pauline evangelical vision in Rome as it relates to relationships within the community and outside the community, in the seat of empire, surrounded on all sides by disbelieving Jews and suspicious pagans. What appears to be an eclectic collection of Pauline aphorisms is materially organized as Paul’s response to the “hostility, which in the Roman situation has been experienced both inside and outside the Christian community.”[i] Paul, as part of his mixture of apostolic fund raising effort and preventive pastoral care for a potentially fractious cluster of house churches in Rome, engages in some moral exhortation for churches lodged in an adversarial context, which reflects a number of motifs and mandates from Jewish, Jesuanic, and Greco-Roman traditions.
Following on from Rom 12:1-8, the succeeding exhortations in 12:9-21 are terse and appear generalized, often hard to map against a precise intertext, and perhaps reflect a general spectrum of Jewish and Greco-Roman moral discourse. In favour of seeing Paul as resourcing his exhortations on a series of scriptural texts in his mental carry bag, we could aver that Paul treats the authenticity of love as a determining factor for their behaviour, in...
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