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

Somi Chuhon (
Sat, 26 Oct 1996 21:20:57 -0700

At 01:29 PM 10/25/96 -0600, you wrote:
>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.

My sentiments exactly! The use of "historical present" helps us sort out,
perhaps, uses of the indicative tense (if indeed, they are used in this
manner...admittedly, I have not done any exhaustive study in this yet but of
verses that other scholars have claimed this "historical present" is being
used, I have not been convinced by the arguments for it) but does not
establish our interpretive grid from which to analyze the text. I agree
wholheartedly with Carlton's comment here that we are taking man-made labels
and using them to "ease" our interpretive task. I am not convinced that the
text supports what we call an 'Historical" present or other such
"adjustments" to other grammatical catagories. In saying this, I am not
saying that I have wholly accepted the "verbal aspect" idea as presented by
scholars such as Stan Porter, but I am more willing to embrace it because it
has more exegetical value in my estimation because it avoids many of the
pitfalls of "catagorization" that has happened in the past.
I'm not so much bothered by the fact

>To turn around and use that to prove a theological point is absurd.

Stronger that I would put it, but I thoroughly agree. :)