Sunday, April 25, 2004

Dikaiosune Theou 

At the moment I am trying to identify some of the various positions that have been held regarding the meaning of dikaiosune theou in Romans 1:17; 3:21-22 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 in Protestant history. I was wondering if anyone can add new ones to this list. Of course, most of the names here are merely representatives of bigger parties. Martin Luther — (a) subjective genitive (God’s activity by which he reckons us righteous), (b) genitive of origin (a righteousness from God). Philip Melanchthon — ‘the acceptance by which God accepts us’ (subjective genitive) Martin Bucer — ‘the incomparable goodness revealed in Christ by which he forgives sins and imputes righteousness and bestows eternal life; and he initiates it by inbreathing a new mind and a devotion for godliness’ (subjective genitive). Bucer also quotes Origen’s interpretation of the ‘righteousness of God’ as Christ Himself. John Calvin — the righteousness that is ‘approved at [God’s] tribunal’ (objective genitive, not the same thing as genitive of origin) Karl Barth — ‘the just verdict of God the Judge’ Ernst Käsemann — Apocalyptic righteousness, ‘salvation-creating power’ (form of subjective genitive). I get the impression that Peter Stuhlmacher holds to a subtle variant of this, but do not know enough about it to accurately describe it. F.F. Bruce — a ‘twofold sense’: (a) God’s personal righteousness (possessive genitive, seemingly understood more as covenant faithfulness than as distributive justice); (b) ‘the righteousness with which He justifies sinners on the ground of faith’. William Hendriksen — A conflation of the objective genitive and genitive of origin. Quite a common position. John Stott — speaks of three combined aspects of the meaning of the phrase (a divine attribute [possessive, seemingly understood more as God’s intrinsic righteous self-integrity], activity and achievement or gift), not wishing to choose any one over the others. N.T. Wright — ‘Covenant faithfulness’ (both possessive and subjective genitive, arguing against maintaining any great distinction between the two aspects). Also carries law court and apocalyptic overtones (but opposes Käsemann’s supposed detaching of the concept from its covenantal moorings). There also seems to have been those who have held some form of a possessive genitive sense of God’s righteousness (understood more as God’s intrinsic moral uprightness than His relational righteousness) alongside both the genitive of origin and objective genitive senses. However, I cannot put any names to this group at the moment. If anyone can add to this list, or help to clarify at any point, I would be very appreciative.

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