The identity of Paul’s interlocutor in Romans 2:17-29

In my book, I argue that Paul in Romans 2:17-29 is addressing a Jewish synagogue teacher—a person whose ability to understand and to teach the Law of Moses makes him a paradigm for Jewish identity.

Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul's Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to Romans

We will show here that the teaching role of Paul’s interlocutor is not simply a rhetorical device to expose the “pretensions” and “insufferable arrogance” of a “bigot,” [Jewett] nor is it an indication that Paul is only speaking of certain individual “missionary” opponents [Stowers]. Rather, Paul is addressing a  Jewish synagogue teacher—a person whose ability to understand and to teach the Law of Moses makes him a paradigm for Jewish identity itself. This teacher is not just any Jew, but the prime example of a Jew; a “publicly known Jew” (Ἰουδαῖος ἐπονομάζῃ, Rom 2:17). The Jewish teacher is a Jew par excellence. (p. 156)

Thus:

The significance of Paul’s reference to a teaching role for his interlocutor, therefore, cannot be read merely as a denunciation of a particular type of rival missionary. Paul is tapping into an aspect of Jewish identity—a vocational aspect—which was quite significant for many of his Jewish contemporaries. (p. 163)

The full details of the argument and further references may be found in chapter 5 of the book (pp. 156-163). The chapter is available from the publisher in electronic format:

Windsor, Lionel J. Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul’s Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to Romans. BZNW 205. Berlin / Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2014.

 

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