Re: Romans 2:14(a)

Carl W. Conrad (
Tue, 27 Aug 1996 06:14:06 -0500

At 2:37 PM -0500 8/25/96, Marty Brownfield wrote:
>From: "Carl W. Conrad" <>, on 8/25/96 6:31 AM:
>> I also think we should understand this whole endeavor in Rom 1 and 2
>> to place Jews and Gentiles on the same moral plane as purely
>> theoretical/hypothetical. In fact Paul does not concede that either Jews or
>> Gentiles observe the Law in a fashion that will win their salvation.
>> Rather, Jews and Gentiles alike are utter failures at keeping the Law, as
>> he states clearly in chapter 3. His point in chapter 2, I think, is that
>> the Law WOULD save Gentiles as soon as it WOULD save Jews, IF, in fact,
>> Gentiles OR Jews really DID observe the Law--but in fact, NEITHER Gentile
>> NOR Jew observes the Law.
>Actually, Cranfield sees "Gentiles" as "Gentile Christians". He notes the
>parallels of v.15 with Jer. 31:31 (LXX), and concludes:
>"although they have not been brought up by virtue of their birth in the
>possession of God's law (like Jews), they now know it and actually have in
>their hearts the earnest desire to obey it."
>J. D. G. Dunn sees the book of Romans arising out of a conflict between Jewish
>Christians and Gentile Christians, but he rejects Cranfield's views here,
>although I think they would help his case: Paul may be trying to explain
>to his
>Jewish Christian bretheren why Gentile Christians are not "second-class"

I thought there would have been more discussion on this (to me) interesting
verse and topic. I think the view that a conflict between Jewish Christians
and Gentile Christians as one motive underlying the writing of Romans is
not so unusual; although it is unclear just how much Paul knows about the
make-up of the Roman congregation, it probably is mixed, and Paul is also
about to return to Jerusalem where he will confront at best tense meetings
with Jewish Christians in Jerusalem who may not be well-disposed to Paul's
Gentile Christian communities. So the general question of why and how
Jewish and Gentile Christians should relate to each other certainly
underlies the Leitmotif of the book, "for the Jew first, but no less for
the Gentile."

What I find disturbing, however, about the argument regarding 2:14(a) is
that it seems to be based upon an understanding of the logical development
of the first three chapters of Romans that I can't follow. As I have always
understood this development, Paul is dealing from 1:18 through 3:20 with
the WRATH of God and the equality of condemnation under which both Jews and
Gentiles stand. Is Cranfield understanding chapter 2 to be concerned with
an actual capacity of Jewish and Gentile Christians to OBSERVE the law? And
would that not be arguing for a law-righteousness? I guess I really ought
not to be asking these questions without looking at Cranfield, but I'm
confused about what's being argued in the proposed interpretation of Romans

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR