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Revista Studii Teologice

REVISTA FACULTĂŢILOR DE TEOLOGIE DIN PATRIARHIA ROMÂNĂ



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"„Lege” şi „legi” după Romani 7. O perspectivă a teologiei baptismale pauline"

„Law” and „laws” according to Romans 7. A perspective of Pauline Baptismal theology

Autor(i): Cezar UNGUREANU


Summary: „Law” and „laws” according to Romans 7. A perspective of Pauline Baptismal theology
The present article starts from the Romanian Biblical versions of the Epistle to the Romans, confronting the reader with numerous difficulties of traductological nature. These issues hinder the understanding of the sacred text, because they render certain Greek terms ambiguous and confusing. In particular, we present the Pauline approach to laws in the above-mentioned epistle, focusing on chapter seven and the term „νόμος”. In our article, we also analyze the way in which the status of laws is reconfigured through Christian baptism, keeping in mind the Patristic position in the Eastern tradition. The purpose of our theological approach is to clarify the main variants on which the Romanian Biblical text is based, and highlight the flexibility with which St. Paul employs the „νόμος”concept.
To designate the Mosaic Law, the authors of Septuagint (LXX) translated the Hebrew term תּוֹרָה (tôrah) by its Greek equivalent „νόμος”. The main argument determining the Septuagint authors to resort to this translation, is the necessity to render the legalist character of the Law, peculiar to the Judaic world. In the Old Testament texts, the term νόμος occurs mainly in the Pentateuch, and the Decalogue, the two of them constituting a unitary structure. Regarding the translation of verbs, especially in Exodus 20:1-7, Lev 19:8 and Dt. 6:5 (as well as the New Testament quotations), we have found an inconsistency among Romanian Biblical versions, that affects the relationship of mankind, implicitly the Saviour, with the Old Law prescriptions. This inconsistency is caused by the rendering of the respective verbs in the present subjunctive when they actually appear either in the indicative future, active voice in the Septuagint, or qal imperfect in the Masoretic text.
The term „νόμος” appears in the synoptic Gospels only with Matthew (eight times) and Luke (nine times). Mark does not use the „νόμος” notion at all. In the Gospel according to John, the same term occurs fourteen times. Except for particular constructions, peculiar to every evangelist, especially Luke, the main reference is the Pentateuch. I have used Mt 5:17-18 to demonstrate the importance of translating the Decalogue verbs in the future tense. The verb used here by Jesus is „πληρόω”, with the twofold meaning of confirm, and perfect.
To achieve a consistent picture of the evolution of the Pauline doctrine on the Law and its definition, we have taken a chronological approach on the Pauline epistles written before the year 57-58 A.D., when the Epistle to the Romans was drafted. Thus, we have analyzed the occurrence of the noun „νόμος” in the following epistles: 1. The Epistle to the Galatians. 2. Epistles I and II to the Corinthians. 3. The Epistle to the Romans.
– The Epistle to the Galatians. Judaisants’ attacks against the Christian community of Galatia determined St. Paul to formulate an explicit view of the Law. Of course, in using the term „νόμος”, either by itself or in various semantic constructions such as „ἔργα νόμου”, or „ὁ νόμος τοῦ Χριστοῦ”, the Mosaic Law is implied, as it is at the core of the Apostle’s dispute with Judaisant Christians. Also, we have noted in verse 3:24, the use of the noun „παιδαγωγὸς” with the twofold meaning of guard, educate, as well as lead, stressing the meaning of eschatological future in the case of the verbs in the Decalogue and the Law.
– Epistles I and II to the Corinthians. Apparently, at the time when the first Epistle to Corinthians was written, there were no Judaisant Christians in Corinth to bring unrest into the Church. Therefore, St. Paul uses quite rarely the term „νόμος” (15:56), or any other semantic construction based on this term, with the classic meaning of the Mosaic Law. In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul relates to the Law very differently from the previous epistle, since the judaisant influences had started to manifest strongly. Thus, St. Paul presents in the third chapter his apology of the New Covenant, using the term „γράμμα” to designate Mosaic Law.
– The Epistle to the Romans. The Holy Apostle Paul presents in this epistle the corollary of his theology concerning the Law. The term „νόμος” obviously occurs more frequently than in all other Pauline writings (it appears 74 times), generally designating the Mosaic Law. There are also a number of phrases that add another term to the noun „νόμος”: 1. „ἔργα νόμου”; 2. „νόμος πίστεως”; 3. „ἕτερος νόμος”; 4. „ὁ νόμος τοῦ νοός”; 5. „ὁ νόμος τῆς ἁμαρτίας”; 6. „ὁ νόμος τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ζωῆς”; 7. „ὁ νόμος τῆς ἁμαρτίας καὶ τοῦ θανάτου”. Certainly, when St. Paul uses these phrases, except for the first one, he does not mean the Mosaic Law. The relationship between the Law and the Saviour is expressed by the term „τέλος” in 10:4 . The meaning of this word is to be understood in connection to „παιδαγωγὸς” (Gal 2:23), pointing to the fulfilment (πλήρωμα) of the Law in Jesus Christ (cf. Rm 13:10).
In chapter 7 of the Epistle to the Romans, we have analyzed every occurence of the term „νόμος”, and we have specified a few aspects concerning the fundamental issue of ἐγὼ in 7:7-25, by which we must understand the entire pre-Christian human nature, which had not yet received Christian baptism. Whereas up to verse 16, we can deem that the term „νόμος” points to the Mosaic Law, the rest of the „laws” at the end of the chapter necessitate a radical shift from the classic meaning of the term. We have discussed the following phrases and instances:
– „ὁ νόμος τοῦ θεου” (7:22) linked to „ἔσω ἄνθρωπος” (7:22) and sanctioned by „ὁ νόμος τοῦ νοός” (7:23 . 25);
– „ἕτερος νόμος” (7:23) linked to „ἔξω ἄνθρωπος” (cf. 7:23) and sanctioned by „ὁ νόμος τῆς ἁμαρτίας” (7:23 .25).
In conclusion, we have established that the meaning lent by these phrases to the „νόμος” concept is an anthropological one, describing the fissured and split state of the unbaptized man, as against the man restored through the effects of Christian baptism; at the core of this description is the concept of Law and laws. Thus, the notion of „νόμος” is added a new, anthropological component, describing the way in which man’s inner faculties are articulated. From this perspective, the effects of baptismal rebirth are man’s transition from a state of scission of his inner faculties, affected by sin, to a new existential dimension in which the human subject is unified, harmonized and integrated into the „law of the Spirit” (Cf. Rm 8:2).

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Pagini: pp. 185-204