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Journal Article

The Irony of Romans 13

T. L. Carter
Novum Testamentum
Vol. 46, Fasc. 3 (Jul., 2004), pp. 209-228
Published by: Brill
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1561585
Page Count: 20

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Topics: Irony, Taxes, Democratic authority, Christianity, Emperors, Apostles, Swords, Injunctions, Iron, Churches
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The Irony of Romans 13
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Abstract

This article explores the possibility that Paul was using irony in his commendation of the state in Romans 13. It is proposed that the original audience of the letter shared with Paul a common experience of oppression at the hands of the authorities and were aware of the abuses that took place in the opening years of Nero's reign. The consequent implausibility of Paul's language would have alerted his readers to the presence of irony. They would have been able to set aside the surface meaning of the discourse and to recognise that Paul was using the established rhetorical technique of censuring with counterfeit praise. While the passage can be read as a straightforward injunction to submit to the authorities, an ironic reading of the text results in a subversion of the very authorities it appears to commend.

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