Announcing the Human: Rethinking the Relationship Between Romans 1.18-32 and Wisdom of Solomon 13-15

Readers of Romans agree that there exist an unusually close correspondence between Romans 1.18-32 and Wisdom of Solomon 13-15, but when it comes to assessing why this is the case and what it means for an interpretation of Romans things are decidedly less clear. The standard (though by no means only) explanation reads Romans 1.18-32 as a strategic restatement of the Hellenistic Jewish polemic against false religion which functions within the argument of Romans 1-2 to elicit the initial agreement of Paul's Jewish interlocutor. This agreement, however, is a set up for the rhetorical turn of 2.1ff which effectively demonstrates the soteriological equality of the interlocutor and those whom he judges. Read this way, Romans 1.18-32, while contextualized within a subversive argument, is an essentially faithful representation of the Diaspora's anti-Gentile polemic, especially as it comes to expression in Wisdom 13-15 (cf. Douglas Campbell's recent radicalization of this trajectory). This paper intends to question this assumption, arguing instead that Paul's textual engagement with Wisdom is situated within a dramatic theological disagreement with Wisdom. The functional inclusion of the 'judge' of Romans 2.1ff within the scope of his own polemic invites a reconsideration of content and characters of Romans 1.18-32. Rereading this section in close conversation with Wisdom demonstrates that Wisdom 13-15 and Romans 1.18-32 articulate antithetical anthropologies. In Wisdom, the anti-Gentile polemic serves to reinforce an irreducible distinction between Jew and non-Jew. Romans 1.18-32, by contrast, consistently alters Wisdom's polemic so as to include Israel within the Verdammnisgeschichte it narrates. The result is an anthropology that presses behind the Jew-Gentile difference to identify a single category, the human.