Paul’s ‘Spirit of Adoption’ in Its Roman Imperial Context
Lewis, Robert Brian
London: Bloomsbury, 2016 pp. x + 222. $112.00
Library of New Testament Studies, 545
Description: Robert Lewis examines Paul's use of the phrase “Spirit of Adoption” in Romans 8:12-17 against the background of its Roman Imperial context in order to shed light on interpretation of Paul's Letter to the Romans. Whereas other scholars have explored what Paul may have meant when he uses the term “adoption” Lewis instead explores the reasons behind Paul's coupling of it with the term “spirit”. Having examined theories for a possible Jewish antecedent for Paul's use of this phrase, and found them less than persuasive, Lewis unlocks the data within the term's Roman Imperial context that significantly clarifies what Paul means when he uses the phrase “Spirit of adoption". Lewis shows that when Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, adoption had become a feature of Imperial succession. Roman religion gave a great deal of prominence to the Roman family spirit - the genius. The Emperor's genius became identified as a deity in Roman religion and its veneration was widespread in Rome as well as the provinces. When Romans 8.12-17 is read against this background, a very different kind of exegetical picture emerges.
Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Pauline Epistles, Romans, Greco-Roman Literature, Literature
Review by James N. Hoke
Citation: James N. Hoke, review of Robert Brian Lewis, Paul’s ‘Spirit of Adoption’ in Its Roman Imperial Context, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2018).
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