Redeemed from the curse: Paul's understanding of the law and Gentiles in the light of Hellenistic Judaism
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This dissertation examines Paul's understanding of the law and Gentiles in the light of Hellenistic Judaism. Chapter 1 questions whether or not Gentiles are under the law in Paul. The thesis of this dissertation is that, although Paul acknowledges Gentiles to be without the law (Rom 2:14) and Israel as having the law as her privilege (Rom 9:4), Paul paradoxically places Gentiles along with Jews under the law which Gentiles never possessed. Chapter 2 investigates Hellenistic Judaism as the background of Paul's understanding of the Law and Gentiles. Hellenistic Jewish sources such as Sirach, the Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, Philo of Alexandria and Pseudo-Philo testify to the Mosaic law's universal validity. Although Hellenistic Jews recognized the Mosaic law as the ethnic privilege of Israel, they connect the Mosaic law to all nations with various methods. For example, Sirach identifies the universal wisdom as the Mosaic law. The natural law concept and faith in God the Creator play important roles in Hellenistic Jews' extending the Mosaic law to the nations, as the ground for universal moral norms and judgment. Chapter 3 examines Romans to see how Paul, a Hellenistic Jew, understands the relationship between the law and Gentiles. Romans 1:18-32, 2:12-16, 3:9-31, 6:14-15, 7:4-6, and 8:3-4 reveal that Paul places lawless Gentiles under the law. The Mosaic law is closely related with the natural law in 1:18-32. Gentiles are the law unto themselves and will be judged by the law in 2:12-16. Gentiles hear the law speaking to them and consequently their mouths are stopped before God in 3:19-20. According to Romans 6:14-15, 7:4-6 and 8:3-4, Gentile Roman Christians were under the law, were bound by it, and were unable to fulfill the requirement of it before they came under grace by being released from the law to walk in the Spirit. Chapter 4 deals with Galatians 3:13-14, 3:23-25 and 4:4-5. "We" in Galatians 3:13-14 includes Gentiles, denoting that Gentiles as well as Jews are under the curse of the law. Other Galatians texts witness that Christ redeemed Gentiles along with Jews from the curse of the law and liberated them from the bondage of the law to become the sons of God. Chapter 5 summarizes and concludes the entire discussion. For Paul, Gentiles not having the law are under the law and its curse. Christ's sacrificial death on the cross redeemed Jews and Gentiles from the curse of law.