GOD OF THE DEAD AND THE LIVING: UNDERSTANDING ROMANS 14:9 IN TERMS OF ITS INTERTEXTUAL RELATIONSHIPS
AbstractIn this article, Paul’s reference to Christ being the Lord of both the dead and the living in Romans 14:9 is interpreted in terms of a well-established tradition in the early church that Christ descended into the realm of the dead to proclaim his victory and judgement over evil as well as to announce and accomplish the salvation of historical Israel. This tradition can be related to various NT texts, especially Jesus’ reference to God being the God not of the dead but the living (Mt 22:23-33; Mk 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-50), the notion that God (1 Pt 4:3-6) or Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead (Ac 10:42; 2 Tm 4:1), texts alluding to the underworld (Lk 16:19-31) or Jesus’ descent to the realm of the dead (Rm 10:7; 1 Pt 3:18-20:4:6; Eph 4:9), texts that point to the patriarchs being alive (Heb 11:13-16) as well as texts that point to the resurrection of OT saints (Jn 5:25-29; Mt 27:51-53). The interpretative tradition of Christ’s descent to the underworld and his salvation of historical Israel is also clearly identified in the writings of the early church. These intertextual relationships that Romans 14:9 shares with many other texts in the early church paint the broader picture of an early Christian tradition about Christ’s reign over the dead against which this text is to be interpreted, which in turn has profound implications for the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection in Paul’s theology.
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