Epistle to the Romans in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

LITERATURE This is the greatest, in every sense, of the apostolic letters of Paul; in scale, in scope, and in its wonderful combination of doctrinal, ethical and administrative wisdom and power. In some respects the later Epistles, Ephesians and Colossians, lead us to even higher and deeper arcana of revelation, and they, like Romans, combine with the exposition of truth a luminous doctrine of duty. But the range of Roman is larger in both directions, and presents us also with noble and far-reaching discussions of Christian polity, instructions in spiritual utterance and the like, to which those Epistles present no parallel, and which only the Corinthian Epistles rival. 1. Its Genuineness: No suspicion on the head of the genuineness of the Epistle exists which needs serious consideration. Signs of the influence of the Epistle can be traced, at least very probably, in the New Testament itself; in 1 Peter, and, as some think, in James. But in our opinion Jas was the earlier writing, and Lightfoot has given strong grounds for the belief that the paragraph on faith and justification (Jas 2) has no reference to perversions of Pauline teaching, but deals with rabbinism. Clement of Rome repeatedly quotes Romans, and so do Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin. Marcion includes it in his list of Pauline Epistles, and it is safe to say in general Romans "has been recognized in the Christian church as long as any collection of Paul's Epistles has been extant" (A. Robertson, in HDB, under the word). But above all other evidences it testifies to itself. The fabrication of such a writing, with its close and complex thought, its power and marked originality of treatment, its noble morale, and its spiritual elevation and ardor, is nothing short of a moral impossibility. A mighty mind and equally great heart live in every page, and a soul exquisitely sensitive and always intent upon truth and holiness. Literary personation is an art which has come to anything like maturity only in modern times, certainly not before the Renaissance. In a fully developed form it is hardly earlier than the 19th century. And even now who can point to a consciously personated authorship going along with high moral principle and purpose?...

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