From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Mar 27 1996 - 11:47:19 EST

On 3/27/96, Chris Uzzi wrote:

> Hello!
> Would someone be so kind to address an issue of importance for an up coming
> study I will be leading through Romans 7. The issue is ENTOLE, referring to
> a pronounced commandment or order, and so it is rightly translated (NKJV).
> I am of the opinion that Paul's reference is to the superiority of the
> divine decrees. However, in this particular passage Paul seems to be
> referring specifically to Torah and the Old Testament writings. Can the
> same truth be conveyed from the completed Canon as we have it today? Where
> as this may seem obvious, it is the relationship of ENTOLE to NOMOS in
> Chapter 7 that I am intrigued by.
> Comments (or rebukes) appreciated.

Maybe it's a semantic problem, but I'm not quite sure what you mean by "the
superiority of the divine decrees" here. I've always understood hH ENTOLH
in Romans 7:7-14 is referring specifically to the tenth commandment, cited
in 7:7 as OUK EPIQUMHSEIS. I've also always interpreted this AS IF an
adolescent boy named Paulos about the time of his bar mitzvah (I have no
idea, of course, when that ceremony first came into play, but I'm being
imaginative here) becomes aware that he is subject to the commandment OUK
EPIQUMHSEIS at the very time that he is also becoming aware--with
embarrassment--of his sexuality and of ITS independence of his moral
control. He is saying, then, that cognizance of the commandment makes him
aware of his own "SARKIC" nature and of the alienation within his own

I realize that this goes beyond what is being asked, but the question seems
to be raised in terms of its implications. And here's where I have trouble.
When you say, "Can the same truth be conveyed from the completed Canon as
we have it today?" I have to assume that you're referring to the 66 books
of the Protestant Bible. I think you're raising a DOCTRINAL question that
an understanding of the Greek of this passage cannot clarify because the
presuppositions which you and I bring to bear upon the doctrinal question
may very well differ. Is the Christian believer subject to the 10
commandments? Or, to use the language of Galatians, has the Christian
believer dispensed with the Torah as a PAIDAGWGOS and is he/she now
endeavoring to obey God directly, without a mediating Torah? The latter
would be my view, but I'm under the impression that many conservative
Protestants would hold that the Christian is indeed still subject to the 10
commandments. And this, I would argue, is a question that the proper
meaning of the Greek text (with which alone our discussions on this list
are concerned) cannot resolve.

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

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