Reviews of

The Rhetorical Functions of Scriptural Quotations in Romans

In Anthony Royle, Brill, Intertextuality, Katja Kujanpää, New Testament, Quotations, Romans on June 3, 2019 at 11:20 am


2019.6.6 | Katja Kujanpää. The Rhetorical Functions of Scriptural Quotations in Romans: Paul’s Argument by Quotations. Novum Testamentum Supplements 172; Leiden: Brill, 2018. 374 pp. ISBN 978-90-04-38293-0.

Review by Anthony Royle, Dublin City University.

Katja Kujanpää (University of Helsinki) dauntlessly has undertaken a rhetorical and text-critical analysis of every quotation of the Old Testament in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, which is an impressive achievement for a monograph. The enormity of this project, which is based on Kujanpää’s doctoral dissertation, means there is no space for comparative studies with citations in other Pauline letters or contemporary literature, narrowing the focus solely on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. This book is undergirded by two modern literary theories: Demonstration Theory, developed by psycholinguists Herbert Clark and Richard Gerrig, and the Proteus Principle, developed by literary critic Meir Sternberg. Clark and Gerrig’s theory will be familiar to those who have engaged with Christopher Stanley’s work on the rhetorical use of quotations and their function in Paul’s letters, which proposes quotations are not descriptive but rather a demonstration of a particular point of view. Kujanpää also engages in the Proteus Principle, which views recontextualization as inevitable considering quotations belong to a network of relations. With these two streams of literary theories carefully presented in the introductory chapter, Kujanpää has a clear and convincing methodology driving her analysis of quotations in Romans, while critically engaging with another literary theory, metalepsis, extensively used Richard Hays, J. Ross Wagner, and Brian Abasciano, who each provide notable contributions on quotations in Romans.

There are seven subsequent chapters following the introductory chapter, six of which focus on a particular catena of quotations that form a line of rhetorical argument (Rom. 3:1–20; 4:1–25; 9:6–29; 9:30–10:21; 11:1–36; 14:1–15:21), while the seventh chapter investigates the remaining individual and paired quotations with their rhetorical function throughout Paul’s discourse (Rom. 1:7; 2:24; 7:7 and 13:9; 8:36; 12:19–20). Kujanpää notes that there is no difference between the rhetorical effect of a catena of quotations to the individual and paired quotations. In each case a citation is integral to Paul’s argument and provide a demonstration to the argument Paul is making.

Kujanpää’s analysis of each quotation exhibits exegetical finesse. Each quotation is placed in a table with varying textual forms from antecedent material provided by extant sources, mostly from Greek traditions, noting the various revisions of the Septuagint (LXX) and some the Hebraized revisions of the Greek text. On the occasion where a quotation is thought to have a Hebrew Vorlage, the quotation is compared to varying Hebrew texts from the Masoretic tradition as well as multiple Hebrew texts found in the Judean desert. Kujanpää provides extensive knowledge on the variant readings from extant New Testament manuscripts, which provides added depth to the analysis of Paul’s quotations and pays careful attention to the pluriform use of scripture by Paul—although, at times Kujanpää defaults to the LXX as the main point of analysis stating Paul ‘deviates from the LXX’ (pp. 22, 158, 173, 220), which one may contest.

Part of this investigation of contested antecedent forms highlights some of the text critical difficulties surrounding the quotations. For example, critical studies often associate the catena of Romans 3:4–18 as six single texts of quotations compiled together; however, Kujanpää highlights that a composite of these texts are part of additional material incorporated in Psalm 13 providing a longer version of the Psalm attested by Codex Alexandrinus and Lucianic witnesses (pp. 38–41). Likewise, Kujanpää disputes the traditional view that Romans 11:35 is a Hebraized revision of Job 41:13 and highlights that there are important witnesses of Isaiah 40:13, including uncials S* and A, which contain the quotations verbatim use by Paul. The possibility of later Christian redactors inserting Paul’s words into the Greek text is viewed as unlikely as the quotation is separated from the preceding quotation of Isaiah 40:12 in Romans 11:34 and the traditional words of Isaiah 10:13 (pp. 258–9).

Each chapter concludes with a table containing the reference of the quotation in Romans, the reference of the antecedent text, the introductory formula to for the quotation, the quotation’s relation to the LXX (i.e., verbatim, modifications, hebraized, etc.), and the rhetorical function of the quotation. These data sets are helpful for future research on quotations in Romans and other Pauline letters and early Christian epistolography at large. The rhetorical analysis of each citation enables the reader to see how a quotation moves Paul’s argument forward. Kujanpää proposes that Paul frames the quotation with introductory formulas and explanatory remarks forming sections of discourse throughout the epistle. It is the wording of the quotation that offer an effect on Paul’s argumentation, especially in Paul’s use of catchwords within quotations, whether they be from the Vorlage or inserted by Paul, which are weaved through the stream of argument connecting the citations with the surrounding discourse. There are certain quotations that require some background knowledge to the cited text such as the sequence of events surrounding Abraham’s justification in Romans 4; however, Kujanpää demonstrates through her rhetorical analysis that the use of metalepsis hinders the argument Paul is making, as Paul’s quotations exemplify continuity and discontinuity with what may be perceived as the immediate context of their antecedents (p. 343).

The book concludes with a number of summarising statements from the research questions posited at the beginning of the book. Ultimately, Kujanpää concludes that Paul actively controls the meaning of the quotations and priority must be given to Paul’s interpretative hints of the initial literary context of the antecedent passage. Kujanpää asks throughout the book whether Paul would expect any disagreement with his appropriation of scripture and ultimately concludes that Paul appears to expect his readers to accept his authority as an exegete (p. 166).

Although there is a plethora of scholarship on the quotations of the Old Testament in Romans, and perhaps some of these arguments have been expressed at length elsewhere, this book still provides a fresh and much needed contribution that brings greater clarity on how Paul quotes scripture and, more specifically, how those quotations function rhetorically in his letter to the Romans.

Anthony Royle
Dublin City University
anthony.royle2 [at]


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