Paul, His Roman Audience, and the Adopted People of God. Understanding the Pauline Metaphor of Adoption in Romans as Authorial Audience

Author: Watson, Edward W.
Argues that the use of the metaphor of adoption as a literary construct in Romans would aid Paul's intended audience in the understanding of their Christian experience both in the present and at the eschaton.


"Readers of Watson’s work will discover that the socio-cultural gap between the New Testament world and our own is more substantial than we might like to think, even with a topic as mundane as adoption. Where modern readers tend to picture newborn babies or young children when they hear the word “adoption,” Greco-Roman adoption more often involved adult children and thus carried with it profound social implications for the adoptee. As Watson elaborates on the rights and responsibilities that accrued to those who were adopted, the practical and theological implications of Paul’s adoption language are seen to be far more extensive than a casual reading of the text would indicate. In the end, Watson’s judicious handling of the relevant primary and secondary literature results in a treatment of this important metaphor that readers should find both instructive and edifying." - Prof. Martin M. Culy, Briercrest College and Seminary

"Prior to Watson’s work, studies of the Pauline adoption metaphor have focused only on the sources of Paul’s imagery. Some scholars have argued that the Old Testament alone explains the background and meaning of the metaphor. They contend that the adoption metaphor comes out of Paul’s Jewish heritage and refers to Israel’s election by God. Paul’s use of the metaphor and its surrounding familial language in Rom 8, therefore, is utilized to support his arguments for God’s faithfulness to the Jews in Rom 9-11. Watson’s work reveals that in the text of Romans, the term ui`oqesi,a describes the manner in which God brings believers into the people of God and bestows upon them the rights, privileges, and obligations belonging to sonship. Divine adoption, a privilege first given to the Jewish remnant, is now through the fulfillment of God's covenantal faithfulness, appropriated to God’s eschatological people as a whole (i.e., believers made up of both Jews and Gentiles). Jews to enter the family of God on an equal basis." – Sharyn Dowd, First Baptist Church Decatur

“One of the significant contributions of this book is its extensive documentation of the concept of adoption in both the Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts of Paul's Roman audience. Previous studies have sought to identify one or the other as the background to Paul's usage, often by asking how Paul would have understood such language. Watson shifts the focus to the audience addressed by Paul, so that Paul's usage of the language is largely determined by how he read the conceptual field of his audience.” – Prof. Jerry S. Lamp, Oral Roberts University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Martin M. Culy
1. Introduction
2. Adoption in the Old Testament and Jewish Literature
3. Adoption in the Greco-Roman World
4. Reading Paul’s Adoption Metaphor as Authorial Audience
5. Conclusion