THE ‘SPIRIT’ AND THE ‘GROANING OF CREATION’ IN ROMANS 8 SEEN AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF MODERN SCIENCE

Klaus Nürnberger

Abstract


Romans 8:19-22 is unique in its concern for the natural world. This is theologically
significant at a time when ecological concerns have become inescapable and urgent.
But this concern is packaged in an ‘apocalyptic’ eschatology that no longer seems
plausible in modern times. This essay places the theology of Paul into the context of
the Israelite-Jewish traditions, on which it draws, and Romans 8:19-22 into the
context of Paul’s theology of the ‘Spirit’ as opposed to the ‘flesh’. Then it confronts
Paul’s eschatology with modern scientific insight, and tries to reconceptualise its
essential message in a way that could make sense to our scientifically informed
contemporaries. The ‘age to come’ is a vision of comprehensive optimal well-being
that orients the human ‘spirit’, that is, the structure of human consciousness,
towards God’s benevolent intentionality. The divine ‘Spirit’ is the empowerment to
participate in God’s creative and redemptive agency.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/109-0-124

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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