romans is a theodicy

Romans 1:16-17 – ου γαρ επαισχυνομαι το ευαγγελιον του χριστου; δυναμις γαρ θεου εστιν εις σωτηριαν παντι τω πιστευοντι, ιουδαιω τε πρωτον και ελληνι.  δικαιοσυνη (dikaiosune) γαρ θεου (Theou) εν αυτω αποκαλυπτεται εκ πιστεως εις πιστιν; καθως γεγραπται “ο δε δικαιος εκ πιστεως ζησεται”.

The question of Romans is whether or not God (Theos) is ‘just’ (dike) or ‘in the right’, which is what the term ‘theodicy’ literally means.  (This, no doubt, is why N.T. Wright’s forthcoming volume on Paul will be called ‘Paul and the Justice of God’)

The classical question of theodicy is concerned with the character (note: not God’s existence) of God, particularly God’s goodness and strength (omnibenevolence and omnipotence) given the existence of evil/suffering.  In Romans, the theodicy question doesn’t focus on omnipotence and omnibenevolence as such, but rather on God’s faithfulness to God’s own purposes for God’s world, particularly through the people of Israel.

Paul’s answer: in and through the person, gospel and spirit of Jesus Christ, God is faithful to his purposes for the whole world.

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