Dr. Brian Abasciano Introduces His New Book on Romans 9:10-18

, posted by SEA

Dr. Brian Abasciano has done a guest post in the blog of his publisher, T&T Clark/Continuum, introducing his new book on Romans 9:10-18. We have reproduced the post below, which was taken from http://tandtclark.typepad.com/ttc/2011/04/a-guest-post-from-brian-j-abasciano.html :

Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9.10-18 continues what I call the “intertextual exegesis” of Romans 9 begun in my first volume for T&T Clark’s LNTS series, which covered Rom. 9:1-9. To put it simply, “intertextual exegesis” of the New Testament is standard grammatical-historical exegesis that pays special attention to the Old Testament and Jewish background of the New Testament text. Scholars have paid increasing attention to such background over the last couple decades due to greater recognition of the prime importance of these factors for the New Testament authors, not least the Apostle Paul. I have found this to be one of the most fruitful avenues of research for understanding Paul’s epistles. Now Paul makes use of Scripture extensively in Romans 9–11, a passage that is undoubtedly one of the most important in Paul’s writings for understanding his theology on multiple issues. Romans 9 in particular relates to some of the most intriguing and controversial issues in Christian theology, such as election, reprobation, divine hardening of human beings, divine sovereignty, human free will and responsibility, and the relationship between Israel and the Church as well as their places in God’s plan for the world. So I have undertaken to exegete Romans 9 in what I expect to be the most extensive study of the chapter in the history of scholarship when it is done (there’s at least another, third volume to come) in order to understand what Paul has written and its theological ramifications.

This second volume analyses Rom. 9:10-18 and corroborates the general thrust of my exegesis of Rom. 9:1-9 in my first volume along with its conclusions regarding Paul’s theology and his use of Scripture (see chapter 5 of that first volume). (In describing the findings of the new book, I will incorporate some material directly from the manuscript.) I have found that Rom. 9:10-18 supports 9:8, which represents God’s election of those who believe in Christ (the Church) as his covenant people/heirs rather than ethnic Israel. In 9:10-18 Paul defends this as faithful to God’s promises to Israel, arguing that God’s covenant promises and purpose for election (to save the world) are fulfilled not by works or ancestry, but by the sovereign call/naming of God, which he bestows on the basis of faith in Christ.

Calling on Scripture, Paul argues that God is righteous (in the sense of faithful to his covenant promises) to do so because (1) the election of God’s people depended wholly on his sovereign will from the beginning and therefore remained subject to the dictates of his own will; (2) the fundamental nature of his covenant with Israel from its inception allowed for the rejection of the unfaithful and covenant blessing for those who trust in God’s chosen means of mediating it; (3) the bestowing of covenantal election by faith rather than works or ancestry, which hardened ethnic Israel, enables God to fulfil his covenant promises by allowing him to include all the nations of the earth in the covenant, which is the climactic covenant promise representative of them all; and (4) God’s nature when relating to sinful humanity is both merciful and sovereign in the determination of the beneficiaries of his mercy, including any conditions for choosing them.

The investigation finds Paul operating with doctrines of conditional, corporate election and hardening that allow for genuinely free human will. It also gives an extensive treatment of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, which I feel makes a contribution to resolving the notorious theological problem posed by the theme in Exodus itself as well as Paul’s use of it in Romans 9.