Thursday, January 07, 2010

Moo Commentary on Romans (pp. 13-20)

On the one hand, what we have so far in the commentary is a good illustration of going out and doing some investigation and taking into account the investigations of others. On the other hand ...

The "essay" format (as opposed to some strictly inferential structure) lends itself to freedom to express yourself. But it also lends itself to rhetorical laxity. One element of rhetorical laxity is the all too common pattern of suggesting something (for example, "Paul's purpose may be ...", p. 11), then repeating it in various ways while mentioning other things( for example, saying "this interpretation of the data is generally satisfactory," (p. 12)), such as facts that support, but do not establish, what you suggest.

However, there's a reason to comment on Moo this year! He is aware that suggestion is not proof! Indeed, you could say that these suggestions are brought up so that later, around p. 28 (we haven't gotten there yet) -- he brings this particular suggestion, that "the theme" of Romans is this and that, up for direct discussion -- and shows problems with it!

But here, back up through p. 20, the author is introducing the idea. If you're tempted to do this kind of thing in discussions: suggesting, hinting, making things sound plausible because of xyz -- AND, if you know in your heart that you don't have the proof -- then put in Moo in your life, who will listen to your stuff, and try to investigate it with you, and then ... look at it directly with you. A very stout drink, to correct our sneaking around like that.

Wasn't this a lesson learned many times in history? Engineers and those responsible for guarding human life, whether building bridges or watching for enemies, learn this lesson: check your materials! Subject your materials to a solidity check. The same should be true for arguments. Subject them to a coherence and verifiability check.

We may do this, or have it done for us later (which may not be as careful as we'd like). A bridge will be tested by its traffic and the winds. Why not check it for solidity first? An argument will be tested by opponents. So why not check it first?

So here at the end of pp. 20-21, we have Moo's bridge candidate. Let's continue and watch for opportunities to give it a solidity check: Paul "carefully rehearsed his understanding of the gospel, especially as it related to the salvation-historical questions of Jew and Gentile and the continuity of the plan of salvation."

I know, that sounds like theological gobbledy-gook. It's just technical language. But it is his candidate. Moo both checks others' materials, and provides materials for us to check!

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