Abraham's Faith in Romans 4 978-3-16-149197-9 - Mohr Siebeck
Theology

Benjamin Schliesser

Abraham's Faith in Romans 4

Paul's Concept of Faith in Light of the History of Reception of Genesis 15:6

[Der Glaube Abrahams in Römer 4. Paulus' Glaubensbegriff im Kontext der Rezeptionsgeschichte von Genesis 15,6.]

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How does Paul understand faith? Benjamin Schließer seeks to answer this question by scrutinizing Paul's exegesis of Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4, taking into account the chapter's textual and thematic links to Romans 3:21–31 and Romans 1:16–17. Compared to his Jewish contemporaries, Paul develops a unique, twofold structure of 'faith' (Pistis): It designates first a divinely established sphere of power, and second human participation in this reality.
The concept of faith is at the core of Paul's theology, and the classic assage for his understanding of pistis is Genesis 15:6. After discussing the history of scholarship on the Pauline concept of faith, Benjamin Schließer explores the literary, tradition-historical and structural questions of Genesis 15 and offers a detailed exegesis of verse 6 with its fundamental terms »count«, »righteousness«, and »believe«. He then points to the theological significance of this testimony on Abraham for the Jewish identity; it comes into sight in a multifaceted and nuanced process of reception, from later Old Testament texts (Psalm 106; Nehemiah 9) to a broad array of literature from Second Temple Judaism (Septuagint, Sirach 44, Jubilees 14, 4QPseudo-Jubilees, 4QMMT, 1Maccabees, Philo). In the final and most substantial step, he asks about Paul's »hermeneutics of faith«: How does Paul, in his exegesis of the Genesis quote in Romans 4, come to view Abraham as the father of all believers? What is the concept of faith that he develops on the basis of Genesis 15:6? Taking into account the manifold textual and thematic links between Romans 4, Romans 3:21–31, and Romans 1:16–17, a unique, twofold structure of »faith« discloses itself: Pistis designates first a divinely established sphere of power, i.e., a new, christologically determined salvation-historical reality, and second human participation in this reality, i.e., individual believing in the community of believers. Particularly the first aspect is generally overlooked in modern scholarship.
Authors/Editors

Benjamin Schliesser Born 1977; studied Protestant Theology in Tübingen, Glasgow and Pasadena; 2006 PhD; 2010–16 senior assistant in Zurich; since 2016 Professor of New Testament Studies at the Institute for New Testament Studies at the University of Bern.

Reviews

The following reviews are known:

In: Journal for the Study of the OT — 32.5 (2008), S. 233 (R.B. Matlock)
In: The Expository Times — 123 (2011), S. 103 (A. Andrew Das)
In: New Testament Abstracts — 51 (2007), S. 580
In: Journal for the Study of Judaism — 39 (2008), S. 438–440 (Tobias Nicklas)
In: Journal for the Study of the NT — 30.5 (2008), S. 84 (Steve Moyise)
In: Recherches de Science Religieuse — 97 (2009), S. 269–271 (Jean-Noel Aletti)
In: New Testament Abstracts — 51 (2007), S. 580
In: Religious Studies Review — 34 (2008), S. 44 (Patrick Gray)
In: Theologische Beiträge — 43 (2012), S. 197 (Klaus Haacker)