From: Jeffrey Gibson (
Date: Wed Apr 23 1997 - 17:01:49 EDT

On Wed, 23 Apr 1997, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> Jeffrey, I wonder whether we are missing each other's points in this
> understanding of PAQHMATA vs the other, but rather of more than a single
> element entering into the way the word (PAQHMATA) is being used. I do very
> definitely think that Paul understands the very will to do what is
> righteous as a potential snare, a trap laid by Sin as a sort of demonic
> power out to get us one way or another. But the notion of demonic powers,
> be they minions of Satan or spirits resident in the planetary spheres and
> exercising control (KOSMOKRATORES THS PAROUSHS SKOTIAS), is another
> constituent element of Hellenistic culture, as is the worship of the
> goddess TYCHE and the sense of enslavement to hEIMARMENH that some
> expressed.

> If we are at odds here, I think it is more likely over what you and I mean
> by Hellenized Judaism. I think this is something that may mean different
> things in Palestine and in Alexandria and in Asia Minor--Paul's Tarsus--and
> in Greece and Italy, but my guess is that you and I have different ideas
> about the extent to which Hellenized Judaism is a fundamentally
> ethnocentric and xenophobic phenomenon. I rather think it runs the whole
> spectrum from extremely conservative Jews who don't speak Greek at all and
> imagine that they are altogether immune from the taint of Hellenism to
> radical Jews who see the Mosaic tradition as one of the competing
> philosophic systems, more like each other than distinct, by which humanity
> seeks to orient itself in the universe. Where does Paul belong on that
> spectrum? Probably a pretty complex and conflicted young man, I would
> think, even before his transformation, whether that be called a "call" or a
> "conversion," from a fanatical persecutor of Jewish Christians who are
> proselytizing Gentiles to the foremost fanatical proselytizer in their
> company.
> But really, I don't think we are arguing at cross-purposes here so much as
> each underscoring the importance of one aspect of the background of Paul's
> psychology of sinfulness.

Thanks for your response. In one way what you say in your last paragraph
above is exaxtly what are doing. But on the other hand, I'm not sure I
feel as if you have understood the point I have been trying to raise. And
that is: of *all* the possible/actual backgrounds that might have/actually
did inform Paul's psychology of sinfulness [and leaving aside for the
moment whether this way of putting it is not an anachronism], which, if
any, is actually at the forefront of, and informs Paul's discussion of
the relationship between Sin, passions, and the Law in Rom. 7?

Even if we assume/agree that Paul and his readers were maximally informed
about and conversant with Stoic/Epicurean/Cynic thought or all the menatl
furniture contained in the Greco Roman religious world view, indeed, even
if they believed in it, this does *not* settle the issue of what Paul is
referring to, what frame of reference he is actually using, in Rom 7.

Methodolgically it must be noted that just because Paul is familar with
the Stoic (or any other) psychology does not
mean he is employing it here. So to me what needs to be stated is: what
is the evidence that in Rom 7 it is Stoic psycology of sinfulness rather
than, as I argue (and I think you admit is a possibilty, though you have
not said so in so many words), the framework provided by Zeal.
Does not the evidence that I outlined in my previous post (my "givens")
seem to make this view the most likely?

Let me add that whether we are talking at cross purposes or not, I am
enjoying these exchanges immensely!! If hope that my tone does not seems
combative. If it does, please
know that it is not intended to be so. Rather I mean to convey excitement.
This is helping me formulate some viewpoints on
Rom 7 that have I have never before tried to articulate.

Best regards,


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