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Adam: Genesis and Paul

There has been a lot of blog chatter lately about the “historical Adam” and whether or not he actually existed. I suspect the real issue for some Christians is not so much what to do with the Adam we find in Genesis but the Adam we find in Romans—and how the two may or may not be the same. RJS phrases the question intriguingly: Does the gospel depend on finding Paul’s Adam in Genesis?

According to Peter Enns, whose book The Evolution of Adam RJS has been reviewing, Paul’s interpretation of Adam is unique owing to his starting point in Christology. Very interesting!


Earliest Manuscript of Romans?

John Byron reports on a newly discovered fragment of Romans (chs. 9–10, to be precise), which has only come to light in the last 48 hours.

CNN is reporting that a recently unknown fragment of Romans 9-10 has been discovered in the last few days. Steve Green is the president of Hobby Lobby stores in the USA and has collected more than 40,000 artifacts and manuscripts related to the Bible. He has been working on the collection with  Baylor University and is getting ready to put his display on the road.

In the below video, Green shows a papyrus fragment of Romans 9-10 that he says was only discovered in the last 48 hours among the acquisitions by Scott Caroll who oversees the collection for Green at Baylor. It will be interesting to see what other materials Green has managed to purchase and what they might helps us learn about the textual history of the Bible. If you are interested in the exhibition and Greens collection you can read more at explorepassages.com.

Way to go, Baylor! And Hobby Lobby!

The Ephesians Road

I think it was Scot McKnight who suggested that the “New Perspective on Paul” would make a lot more sense to traditional Protestants if they assumed that Ephesians was the epitome of Pauline theology rather than Romans or Galatians. (He may have merely been reporting an observation of N. T. Wright, and I don’t have time right now to look it up.) If that’s the case—and I think it is—then the “Ephesians Road” version of the “plan of salvation” developed by Trevin Wax and now elaborated by Derek Leman will be of interest.

According to Leman, the “Romans Road,” familiar to evangelical Christians, is not untrue, but it is incomplete:

Whereas the Romans Road says, “You can be forgiven and live forever,” the Ephesians Road says, “God is making a perfected cosmos and you can join in.” The Romans Road is limited because it ends in mere acceptance of future blessing. The Ephesians Road is more complete because it ends in all things united in Messiah and calls for us to work with Messiah through the community to bring about healing and redemption for the world.

Here is Leman’s summary of the “Ephesians Road”:

  • Salvation is about God’s plan for the world (Ephesians 1), including the election of Israel, the adoption of Israel as the people of God, the inclusion of Gentiles in salvation, and the uniting of all things in Messiah symbolized by the new unity of Jew and Gentile in Messiah.
  • Salvation is only by unearned favor (Ephesians 2:1-9), raising us from the dead and saving us from God’s wrath.
  • Salvation comes with a calling that must be fulfilled in the community of faith (Ephesians 2:10-22), including good works, kingdom community of mutual blessing between Jew and Gentile, and imaging God to the world.

What do you think?

Phoebe in English Translations and Philological Realities

In the latest SBL Forum, Elizabeth A. McCabe calls attention to the deficiencies of English Bible translations in terms of Phoebe’s description in Romans 16:1-2 as a διακονός and a προστατίς. Regarding διακονός (diakonos), commonly translated as “minister” or “deacon” (in other contexts) she writes,

Of all New Testament women, Phoebe might be the most hotly debated in terms of her role in the early church. She is described in Romans 16:1 as a diakonos, which is generally masked in English translations as “servant.” However, diakonos is the same word that Paul uses to describe his own ministry (1 Cor 3:5; 2 Cor. 3:6, 6:4, 11:23; Eph 3:7; Col 1:23, 25), but it is unlikely that this parallel could ever be gleaned from English translations alone.

McCabe also surveys the early evidence for women deacons in the church. Moving on to the word προστατίς (prostatis), which in most other contexts is rendered “leader,” “patron,” “presiding officer,” or the like, we find that

In surveying the semantic domain of prostatis in regard to church leadership positions, one can see that the semantic range of meanings for proistēmi differs from the rendering of prostatis in English translations in Rom 16:2. According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, in surveying the eight occurrences of proistēmi (as noted above), the majority of these instances have the sense of “to lead.” However, English translations do not take this factor into account in their rendering of Rom 16:2 or the fact that prostatis in its proper sense means “a woman set over others.” Instead of seeing Phoebe in a leadership capacity, English translations account for Phoebe as a “helper” (ASV, NAS, NKJV), a “succourer” (KJV), a “great help” (NIV), or as “helpful” (NLT). The YLT, however, adhering to the most literal rendering of prostatis, renders this term as “leader.” Douglas Moo argues that if the cognate verb proistēmi is considered in determining the meaning for prostatis, Paul might be characterizing “Phoebe as a ‘leader’ of the church.”

This is a very brief and fairly accessible article worthy of wide distribution.