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The Children of Promise: Constructing the Identity of Abraham's Seed in Romans 9:1-29

MOON, JOHN (2023) The Children of Promise: Constructing the Identity of Abraham's Seed in Romans 9:1-29. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 14 October 2026.


Romans 9:1-29 has been heavily debated throughout the centuries, particularly due to its depiction of God’s relation to humanity and Israel. Beginning with the observations that (i) the argument in Romans 9:1-29 proceeds in stages, with later stages constrained by earlier ones, and that (ii) Paul’s use of “Abraham,” “Isaac,” and “promise” to define Abraham’s “seed” at an early stage, 9:6-9, seems to have an intimate though poorly understood relation to the way he defines Abraham’s “seed” elsewhere (Galatians 3:1—4:7, Galatians 4:21-31, Romans 4), our strategy is to understand this relation as a means to fine-tuning our interpretation of Romans 9:6-9, which in turn will guide our interpretation of 9:10-29. At the same time, our analysis of 9:1-29 addresses how and why previous interpreters have read these verses so differently. Accordingly, Part I handles the reception history of Romans 9, covering a number of pioneering interpreters (Origen, Augustine, Arminius, Locke, and Beyschlag). Part II then analyzes and compares how Paul constructs the identity of Abraham’s seed in Galatians 3:1—4:7, Galatians 4:21-31, Romans 4, and Romans 9:6-9. Using the common Jewish division of history/space into two “eras”/“realms,” we argue that Paul consistently understands Abraham’s faith and Isaac’s supernatural birth as foundational events in the creation of God’s people Israel (i.e., God’s people in the old era/realm), and that these events were being repeated in individuals not to form God’s people throughout history, but to form God’s new people in Christ (i.e., in the new era/realm). Accordingly, 9:6-29 is governed by the principle of a parallel creation of two peoples; and since the old and new eras/realms coexisted in Paul’s day, so there coexisted two peoples of God in the two eras/realms.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Paul, Romans, Galatians, Abraham, Isaac, seed, Israel, apocalyptic, salvation-history, reception, Origen, Augustine, Arminius, Locke, Beyschlag, predestination
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Oct 2023 12:05

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