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Title: Diatribe and the Construction of a Negative Pauline Anthropology
Author(s): SPITALER, Peter
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 84    Issue: 4   Date: 2008   
Pages: 445-475
DOI: 10.2143/ETL.84.4.2033454

Abstract :
The search for thematic unity within Romans 1–3 has led to the consensus that Paul here develops the theme of universal sinfulness. Abstracted from the text, the theme functions, in the analysis of these chapters, as a meta-thematic interpretive concept (that is, a concept broader than the thematic details contained in the text). It favors four distinct conclusions about Paul’s theology and argument: (1) sinfulness is an anthropological reality; (2) goodness is an anthropological hypothesis; (3) literary (diatribal) characters exemplifying unjust conduct are factually real; and (4) characters exemplifying just conduct are factually unreal. The purpose of this article is to survey and critique the subtle ways in which meta-thematic interpretations (that is, reading the text through the lens of universal sinfulness), supported by the literary style of diatribe (that is, identifying positive literary characters as fictional, and negative literary characters as factual), contribute to a negative Pauline anthropology and negative portrayals of first-century Israelite religion. Because of their influence on characterization in Romans 1–3, the article begins with an overview of the interrelationship between meta-thematic and diatribal analyses. The overview prepares the stage for an alternative reading of Paul’s diatribe.

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