Romans 8—Interchange Leading to Deification

in Horizons in Biblical Theology
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Abstract

In this article, I argue that the notion of “participation” often used to describe Paul’s soteriology in Romans entails a form of deification. In chapter 8 Paul develops this notion through the use of an interchange dynamic whereby believers are given a share in righteousness, sonship, glory, immortality, power over evil and love. Justification and participation both have their natural goal in being united with God in love (Rom 8:37-39). In a concluding hymn Paul uses a non-propositional description of a love which comes to humans from the outside of creation. This concluding metaphor ties together the other ones in a non-representational image of God as a person. God stretches into creation and makes humans capax dei, able to receive. This image of deification enables Paul to construct a story of interpersonal interactions of love, and results in an irreducible and apophatic anthropology.

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