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If Sons, Then HeirsA Study of Kinship and Ethnicity in the Letters of Paul$
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Caroline Johnson Hodge

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182163

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182163.001.0001

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 Ranking Ethnic Peoples: “First the Jew, Then the Greek”

 Ranking Ethnic Peoples: “First the Jew, Then the Greek”

(p.137) 8 Ranking Ethnic Peoples: “First the Jew, Then the Greek”
If Sons, Then Heirs

Caroline Johnson Hodge (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines several passages in which Paul links Jews and gentiles (or Greeks) together, establishing a common ground but also maintaining a separation between them. Their connection is made possible by common ancestry and a shared God: gentiles-in-Christ and Jews are all descendants of Abraham, peoples of the God of Israel. But Paul does not join the two groups into one, nor are the two groups equal. Indeed, Paul maintains a hierarchy between the two, placing Jews at the top (first the Jew and then the Greek). The tension created by this arrangement is crucial to Paul's argument in Romans 9-11, where he outlines his understanding of God's larger plan for salvation of both peoples. The impartiality of God and the olive tree metaphor are critical themes in communicating this plan. Aggregative arguments allow Paul to simultaneously unify and distinguish gentiles and Jews, to rank the latter over the former, and to cultivate a tension between them which propels his version of salvation history, ultimately bringing about the salvation of both peoples.

Keywords:   rank, tension, impartiality, olive tree, salvation history, first the Jew, hierarchy

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