Re: Romans 7:14-25 -- Historical Present

Carlton Winbery (
Fri, 25 Oct 1996 13:29:54 -0600

Tommy Wilson wrote:
>I am interested in hearing some viewpoints on the present tense
>verbs as well as the whole interpretation of Romans 7:14-25. In my
>undergraduate work, my professor claimed Paul was describing his
>pre-Christian experience in this passage with his major support for
>such a view point being that the presents Paul used were historical
>omit rest<

This points up the problem of categories. The problem is not that we
invent categories in an effort to analyze the language, but that we turn
around and enforce those categories on the text. Categories are our
efforts to make sense of the text. I'm not so much bothered by the fact
that differents writers use different terminology to describe the language.
But the above is an example of the misuse of categories. To call a verb a
"historical" present is to say that the present tense is used in a past
narrative (Wallace is right about the likelihood of anything other than 3rd
person being used.) To turn around and use that to prove a theological
point is absurd.

Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Chair, Division of Religious Studies
voice 318 487-7241
fax 318 442-4996