Rhetoric, Law, and the Mystery of Salvation in Romans 7:16

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Many have come to the conclusion that Romans 7: 1-6 indicates a deficiency in Paul’s ability to construct a coherent argument. This study suggests that interpretive problems will be eliminated if the pericope is approached with the right methods. Romans 7: 1-6, examined as a rhetorical treatise, is a paradeigmatic argument which is both structurally and logically coherent. A full understanding also demands a re-evaluation of the meaning and reference of ‘law’ in Romans. Utilizing semantic analyses, Burton suggest that ‘law’ most often refers to the Decalogue. In this pericope, Paul demonstrates how a sinful individual who is condemned by law is transformed to a spiritual individual who is commended by law.


“A serious study and a fresh reading of Romans 7:1-6, particularly on the word nomos in relation to the life of the believer. Burton examines nomos in the Jewish topos of the Decalogue by means of Greco-Roman rhetoric. A suggestive and ground-breaking work.” – Yeo Khiok-khng

“Burton handles both ancient rhetorical sources and modern linguistic theories with erudition and ease. . . . In addition, his reviews of modern interpretations of Romans 7:1-6, of Paul’s use of the analogy in romans, and of the way in which analogy was understood in the Greco-Roman world perform a valuable service for new Testament scholarship.” – Frank Thielman

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Preface; Introduction
1. Previous Analyses of Romans 7:1-6
2. Rhetoric of Romans
3. Analogical Argumentation in Romans
4. Meaning and Referment of Nomos in Romans
5. References to Nomos in Romans 7: 1-6
6. Suggested Reading of Romans 7:1-6
Appendices: Diagram of Joyce Little’s Sequential Development Theory; Rhetorical Analyses of Romans; J. Aletti’s Rhetorical Analysis; Anarthrous Nomos in Romans; Parallel Structure of the Illustration and Application; Chiastic Structure of the Argument; Classical Rhetoric – An Overview; Argument from Analogy in the Rhetorical handbooks; Decalogue as Essential Torah in Second Temple Judaism
Bibliography; Index

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