This monograph is a defense of the literary unity of the book of Romans, a subject that has been treated in terms of textual criticism or of literary criticism, but not, until now, comprehensively with respect to both fields of research. A long-standing critical question is whether the letter to the Romans originally contained only the material now known as chapters 1–14 or perhaps 1–15. The various placements of a doxology (after 14:23, after 16:23, etc.) and the manuscript evidence for several shorter forms of the letter have raised questions of a text-critical nature. Literary criticism has detected in the content of chapter 16 evidence that it was composed separately, and perhaps even addressed originally to a different church.
Gamble's study first presents the textual witnesses to the various forms of the letter and then examines critically the predominant (“Ephesian”) hypothesis for explaining the evidence. The author brings new evidence into the discussion from the developing field of ancient epistolography, showing how the concluding elements of Hellenistic letters have equivalents in Paul's letters. After characterizing the Pauline equivalents, he applies the findings to the problem of Romans 16, demonstrating that epistolary considerations support the originality of chapter 16 as part of the letter to the Romans. This is corroborated by a critical discussion of the possible origins for the shorter forms of the letter in the early church. The conclusion summarizes the results and their meaning for the textual history of the letter, and sets forth their implications for the interpretation of Romans and for other aspects of the study of the Pauline corpus, especially for theories of partition in relation to other Pauline epistles.
Harry Gamble Jr. is Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.