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All Creation Groans: Romans 8:22 in Light of the Biblical Sources

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

It is widely held that Romans 8:22 contains a hendiadys portraying creation as "groaning in travail." This paper argues that the two terms connote diverse ideas and therefore should be translated as "groaning and in travail." The thesis of this paper is that the groaning of creation is creation's mourning due to ongoing human sin and a concomitant divine judgment — as attested nine times in the Hebrew prophets, but most fully expressed in Joel 1-2. This view challenges the prevailing interpretation that creation's plight is due to her distress originating from the curse of the Fall (Gen 3:17). Furthermore, Israelite mourning customs require that the entire community join the mourner in order to restore the mourner to the proper place in the social order. This practice elucidates Paul's references to believers joining with the groaning creation in Romans 8, where creation is presented as an object of God's redemption.


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