Reading the Romans text as a map of the future after twenty centuries of generally disastrous Christian conduct toward the Jews… The map does not (yet?) correspond to our experience; it probably belongs in the file of unfulfilled prophecies (Daniel 11-12, etc.).
Reading the Romans text with attention to the convictions driving it: that might keep our imaginations engaged for a good bit.
- “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
- “God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.”
- “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!”
God is playing a much longer game than we generally imagine.
Sanders, toward the end of Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People: “Paul becomes most human when he encounters difficulty, and the sections which show Paul at his most human are 2 Cor. 11:16-29, where the problems are external, and Romans 7 and 9-11, where his Jewish and his Christian convictions come into conflict in his own mind.… he desperately sought a formula which would keep God’s promises to Israel intact, while insisting on faith in Jesus Christ.”
While working through Romans I happen to be reading Ellen Davis’ Opening Israel’s Scriptures. Noticing the parallel between Gen 6:5 and 8:21, Davis comments “The same reason given here for divine forbearance was cited earlier as the reason for the ruinous flood: the evil conceptions of the human heart, which grieved YHWH to the heart… The covenant with Noah is the enduring sign of God’s willingness to work with the concrete, flawed reality of human nature.” And perhaps that gives us hope that God will not leave Paul twisting in the wind indefinitely.