Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moo Commentary on Romans (p. 67)

1:16. In discussion when Paul says here that the gospel is the "power of God for salvation to everyone who believes," Moo says "the lack of an explicit object after 'believe' is also characteristic of Romans" (p. 67). However, Moo tries to supply an explicit object partially by being selective with the use of "believe" in Romans, and partially by looking at things far afield, slogans in our culture, and concepts from some people's systematics.

He begins well, by trying to stick with an explanation of why "believe" can stand characteristically in Romans without an explicit object: "the language of faith has become [in Paul's day] so tied to what God has done in Christ that further specification is not needed [by Paul]." (p. 67)

So let's look at the commentator's bane here, at least one of them, and take a lesson from it: if something is not explicit, can it be made clearer by making it explicit? Certainly! As long as it is "it," and not something else jumping in.

Why Moo does not do the work of mentioning the large number of occurences of believe and faith in Romans which do have explicit objects, and getting a consensus from them in their contexts what Paul means in his implicit uses of believe as here, is a lesson. Instead, he supplies his vote on some of the systematic war slogans.

Let's take one example of the attempt to cast a vote. In Romans 4:18, Paul says that Abraham "in hope against hope believed." Does this verse teach an act of the will on Abraham's part? "The will to believe" may be a famous phrase in philosophy and religion, but ... look for it in Genesis describing Abraham as Paul is in 4:18. We've studied Genesis together in our One Year Bible so far, and can we think of a place where Abraham geared down by an act of the will to believe or keep believing? Conversely, can we think of any of the many places Abraham by an act of the will expressed disbelief?

I think Moo is aware of the non-support of this verse, and Romans 10:9, which has "with the heart one believes" for the systematics war slogans he wishes to vote on, plus and minus, on this page. For two reasons: one, when he cites these two references, he says "cf." In other words, for what he is saying, compare and consider these verses. That's a hint he knows that the verses don't support the point.

Another hint is the backtracking. It's as if he announced his political party, and then rushes to explain with qualifiers what you should also remember about him: "we must never go to the extreme ... we must also insist .... as ... puts it ...." (p. 67). Things like that are the way backtracking is done, but why? Just use, non-selectively, places Paul explicitly describes the object of faith! Faith in Jesus Christ!

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