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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Paul and Epictetus on Law: A Comparison
Huttunen, Niko

New York: T&T Clark, 2009 pp. x + 187. $120.00

Series Information
Library of New Testament Studies, 405

Description: Huttunen compares Paul's teaching of law with those of Epictetus, suggesting his ideas have clearer affinities to the Stoics than to the Torah. Paul's relationship with covenantal nomism has long been the subject of lively discussion. In this book Niko Huttunen presents a challenging new path to complement the general scholarly picture of Paul's teaching on law. Acknowledging that Stoicism permeated Paul's intellectual milieu, Huttunen compares Paul's sayings of law with those of Epictetus drawing comparisons as a result of careful methodological considerations. Pauline law is generally focused upon Paul's sayings on and relationship with the Torah. It is Huttunen's contention that Paul's ideas on law have clearer affinities with Stoic ideas than with the Torah. Throughout the course of the book Huttunen displays Paul's interpretation of the Torah with Stoic methods ("1 Cor. 7-9"), asserts that in some passages ("Rom. 1-2" and "Rom. 7") Paul's thinking is Stoic, not Platonic and demonstrates that Paul's famous "I"-passage ("Rom. 7.7-25") owes much to Stoic anthropology and psychology. Where the latter is concerned Huttunen suggests that Epictetus' use of the first person presents a good analogy for Paul's employment of 'I' as a rhetorical device. In further passages (e.g. "Rom. 13-15") the comparison with Epictetus opens a window into ancient intellectual thinking in general. Epictetus' ideas of moral progress present an analogy both to the 'works of law' and to Paul's moral exhortation. There are also similarities between Paul's figure of Christ and Epictetus' figure of Heracles. The comparison suggests further comparisons between Paul's treatment of law and other philosophers and schools.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Pauline Epistles, Literature

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Review by Gitte Buch-Hansen
Published 4/22/2011
Citation: Gitte Buch-Hansen, review of Niko Huttunen, Paul and Epictetus on Law: A Comparison, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2011).

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