A report on a paper given by Dr Benjamin Schliesser (Zürich University) at the Senior New Testament Seminar of the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, 11 October 2011.
Dr Schliesser’s paper began with the realisation that he had made when writing his PhD thesis: the notion of doubt has not been dealt with much at all in Pauline scholarship. The doubt of Don Quixote, Descartes, Luther and the modern sceptic were all mentioned as examples that shape our present-day definition of the word “doubt”: uncertainty, hesitation, lack of confidence and wavering between two positions.
Most of the paper focused on Romans 4:20 and Paul’s use of διακρίνεσθαι therein. Dr Schliesser carefully showed the discrepancy between the classical/Hellenistic meaning of the verb (“to be separated or to be dissolved [into elements]”, “to come to a decision or to get it decided” or “to contend or to dispute”) and the way in which it is usually read in the New Testament (“to contend with oneself” or simply “to doubt”). Read the rest of this entry »