Abstract

This article rejects the view that Paul’s reference to “the keeping of the commandments of God” in 1 Corinthians 7:19b alludes to the requirement to observe the full Torah for believers from the ’Iουδαῖοι. At the same time it critiques the interpretation that reduces the phrase to something less than full Torah observance. In the prevalent understandings of 1 Corinthians 7:19 Paul’s reference to the keeping of God’s commandments is either diminished to a set of requirements for Christ-believers, or interpreted as a reference to the Torah with a different set of requirements for believers from the ’Iουδαῖοι (full Torah observance) and Gentiles (limited Torah observance) respectively. From the context of the Corinthian correspondence this article concludes that enough of the freedom from the Torah for all believers can be established to render the prevalent interpretations implausible. In comparison with Galatians 5:1–6 (esp. 5:3) and Romans 2:12–29 (esp. 2:25), it interprets 1 Corinthians 7:19 as a pejorative, shorthand reference to the requirement to do the whole Torah, a requirement that would be a logical consequence of an “old age” attitude that reverts back to outward and external identity markers. Hence, this article argues that Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:19 is suggesting the following: “It is all or nothing; if practising circumcision were essential for those called by God, so would be the keeping of the whole Torah.”

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Additional Information

ISSN
2518-4628
Print ISSN
0254-8356
Pages
pp. 21-45
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Open Access
No
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