UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

A history of interpretation of Romans 9:6-13 in the patristic period Moon, John


Throughout the history of the church, Romans 9 has been a difficult text for interpreters and lay-people in the church, both for its ambiguous language and its use to support a doctrine of predestination. Our thesis provides a history of interpretation of Romans 9:6-13 in the patristic period—including figures like Irenaeus, Origen, John Chrysostom, Ambrosiaster, Jerome, Augustine, and Pelagius—as a way to better understand how subsequent readings of the chapter arose. We seek to understand both how and why patristic interpreters read 9:6-13 the way they did. Our approach involves looking at (1) the assumptions patristic interpreters brought to 9:6-13, (2) the polemical context in which these verses were interpreted, (3) the prior traditions used by interpreters, and (4) the exegetical decisions made for individual elements in 9:6-13. In general, we conclude that the patristic interpretation of 9:6-13 highlights some of the ambiguities and possibilities of interpreting elements in the passage; that the patristic predestinarian approach to this text was indebted to influences from gnostic and Manichaean Christianity; that Origen’s interpretation of these verses had an significant influence on subsequent readings in the Greek and Latin traditions; that Augustine’s final reading of this passage did not develop simply by “a more careful and honest reading of Paul”; and that the patristic appeal to cognate passages in Paul’s letters (i.e. passages containing similar words and ideas) indicates a promising way forward in the interpretation of these verses.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International