Re: "robbing temples"?

From: Edgar M. Krentz (
Date: Sat Jan 25 1997 - 23:18:10 EST

>I'm trying to get a handle on how _hierosuleis_ is to be understood in
>Romans 2.22 ((ho bdelussomenos ta eidola hierosuleis), particularly in
>light of its relationship to _bdelussomenos_. Since there don't appaer
>to be any variant readings, textual emendation is probably not an
>option. (Can't say that I've found Dunn, Fitzmeyer, Barrett,
>Cranfield, Black, Kasemann, Sanday & Hedlam, _et al._ all that
>Any comments, suggestions, or wild guesses appreciated.


I do not ordinarily recommend one of my own articles, but this time I will.
I dealt with this passage in the article "The Name of God in Disrepute:
Romans 2:17-29 [222-23]," CURRENTS IN THEOLOGY AND MISSION 17 (1990)
429-439, an article written in honor of Frederick Danker on his reaching
the age of three score years and ten.

In preparation for that article I examined every occurrence of the words
hIEROSULEIN, and, hIEROSULOS, and hIEROSULIA fouind in the TLG data base
(Disk C, the predecessor of the present disk), over 500 hits. It occurs
regularly in vice lists, as it does here in Romans 2.

I discovered a topos in which this word occurs in a Jewish exegetical
tradition. One should read Phil , DE SPEC. LEG 1.53, DE VITA MOSIS 2.203,
Josephus, ANT 4.207, and CONTRA APIONEM 2.237.. They base what they say on
Exod 22:27 and Lev 24:15-16. See also Wis 13:6-7 and the ARISTEAS AD

It is clear that Paul regards temple-robbery as a sin that breaks the
Torah's prescriptions and brings God's name into disrepute. He uses it to
accuse Judaism (rightly or wrongly) of breaking the second commandment when
they rob gentile temples on the assumption that their gods are idols that
have no significance.

Some of you might find this article's argumentation of interest. It's
argument is too deatiled to say more than I have here. I will say that Paul
uses it to lodge the same accusation against the Jews that he had lodged
against the gentiles in chapter 1, to conclude, as he does in Rom 3:20,
that both stand under the condemnation of the law.


Edgar Krentz, New Testament OR HOME:
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
1100 East 55th Street
TEL.: 773-256-0752 FAX: 773-256-0782

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