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Echoes of Aristotle in Romans 2:14– 15: Or, Maybe Abimelech Was Not So Bad After All

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Abstract

In this study I argue that the Greek of Romans 2:14–15 contains explicit allusions to three phrases from Aristotle, and that Paul combines these allusions with Old Testament (OT) echoes to explain why his fellow Jews have not brought God’s light to the Gentile world—namely, they did not exhibit the exemplary moral performance God called them to. If even Gentiles such as Aristotle recognize the place of the inner urge to do what is right, that recognition exposes the underperformance of Paul’s fellow Jews. This helps to show that the Gentiles who do not have the law are those outside the aura of God’s special light from Israel, rather than Christian Gentiles. This further shows that Paul endorses a form of natural-law thinking and that Christians do no disservice to Paul if they develop this thinking further.

C. John Collins, "Echoes of Aristotle in Romans 2:14– 15: Or, Maybe Abimelech Was Not So Bad After All," Journal of Markets & Morality 13, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 123-173


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