Re the Daily Office Readings July 20 Anno Domini 2020

The Abduction of the Sabine Women by N. Poussin

The Readings: Joshua 7:1-13; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 26:36-46

The NRSV treats the Romans text as two paragraphs: vv.8-10 and 11-14. That looks right, with the first focusing on conduct from the perspective of love, the second on conduct from the perspective of the historical moment. The transition (“Pay everyone what is owed… Owe no one anything…” [New English Translation]) suggests that Paul is coming at the previous material (13:1-7? 12:9-13:7?) from a complementary perspective. I wonder if the selection of themes (the commandments in v.9, the deeds of the night in v.13) is not motivated in part by a concern that 13:1-7 not be understood as giving the governing authorities (13:1) a blank check.

(A variety of Paul’s texts, e.g., 1 Cor 7:9, prompt readers to wonder about his attitude toward sex. I wonder if the choice of illustrations in 13:13 (and 1:26-27?) is not less about that, and more about Rome’s reputation. As the Jeffrey Epstein affair has reminded us, sex is often about power and privilege.)

Asked by a scribe about the which commandment was first of all, Jesus replied “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk. 12:29-31, citing Deut 6:4-5 and Lev 19:18). I wonder if this reply is not echoed in Paul’s exhortations in 12:1ff. “You shall love the Lord your God”: 12:1-2(3-8); “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”: 12:9-13:10. So Paul can focus on the second half of the law (the horizontal) in vv.9-10 because he started with the first half (the vertical) in 12:1-2(3-8)?

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