ROMANS, EPISTLE TO THE. The Epistle to the Romans is one of the four " practically non-disputed " Epistles of the Apostle Paul. Even so uncompromising a critic as P. W. Schm-iedel holds that the genuineness of at least the four principal Epistle of Paul (the Hau-pt briefe) is unassailable. They have of course been attacked, but only by scholars who are notorious for the extremeness and extravagance of their criticism. The Epistle to the Romans was declared by Luther to be the chief book of the New Testament, and by Coleridge to be the most profound work ever written. It is just the kind of work that Paul, with his intellectual training and spiritual experience was qualified to write. As Currie Martin says, " no epistle is more clearly his than is this one." The external evidence for the epistle is equally strong. It seems to have been used by the author of the First Epistle of Peter (compare I. Peter ii. 5 with Romans xii. 1; and I. Peter iii. 8-9 with Romans xii. 16 18), and to have been known to the authors of the Epistle of James and the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is quoted by Clement of Rome. There are reminiscences of it in the Letters of Ignatius and in the Epistle of Polycarp. It is included in the Canon of Marcion and in the Mura torian Canon. It is one of the Epistles ascribed to Paul by Irenaeus. What has already been said does not mean that there are no difficulties in the Epistle. There are a number. What, for instance, was the com position of the Church to which it was addressed? Baur thought that it was in the main Jewish Christian. This would account for the many quotations from the Old Testament and allusions to " the Law." But these, it is thought by many scholars, are explained by the sup position that there was a Jewish Christian element in the Church. Currie Martin admits that there are parts of the Epistle which seem to bear very distinctly upon Jewish life and thought, but he thinks " they are so written as to be quite applicable to Jews who formed part of a church the majority of whose members were Gentiles." Prof. Peake points out that for some of those passages which have been supposed to postulate Jewish readers, parallels may be quoted " from Epistles which were certainly not written to Jews." Another difficulty
is presented by the facts (1) that chapters xv. and xvi. seem to have been lacking in Marcion's copy of the Epistle, and (2) that the Doxology in chapter xvi. vss. 25-27 is in some manuscripts placed at the end of chapter sly., in others is found in both places, and in others is omitted altogether. These facts have suggested the theory that different sections of the Epistle were addressed to different Churches. " Renan made the ingenious suggestion that the main part of the Epistle was sent to several Churches, but with different endings in each case, with xv. to the Romans, 1.-xiv. with xvi. 1-20 to the Ephesians, 1.-xiv. with xvi. 21-24 to the Thessalonians, and i.-xiv. with xvi. 25-27 to an unknown Church. The Epistle came to its present form through a combination of these separate endings " (A. S. Peake). The theory is intended also to remove the difficulty that as the Epistle stands the Apostle sends greetings to many persons in a Church which he had not visited. On the other hand he had laboured among the Ephesians; the warning in xvi. 17-20 would suit Ephesus better than Rome; and some of the persons greeted were, we know, closely connected with Asia Minor. Those who defend the integrity of the Epistle emphasize the fact that Rome was a place to which all roads led, and many of Paul's friends may easily have found their way there. And, as Prof. Peake says, - in spite of the very large acceptance which the hypothesis that the greetings were sent to Ephesus has received, it is still rejected by several of the most eminent scholars, including Harnack, Zahn, Sanday and Headlam, Denney, Ramsay and Lietzmann." A comparison of Romans xv. 22-26 with Acts xx.
xxiv. 17-19, I. Corinthians xvi. 1-4, II. Corinthians viii. 1-4. ix. 1. 2 suggests that the Epistle was written about the year 5S A.D. It would seem to have been written soon after the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. See R. J. Knowling, The Witness of the Epistles, 1892; the Eneyel. Bibl.; J. A. M'Clymont: G. Currie Martin; Arthur S. Peake, Intr.: J. Moffatt, Intr.