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image of Biblical Interpretation

Rom. 7:7-25 functions as a prosopopoiia in which Paul rhetorically assumes the identity of Eve in the scene of the primeval transgression. While most Hellenistic biblical interpreters associated Eve with "feminine" passivity, Paul in Romans 7 (and to a lesser degree in 2 Corinthians 11) calls this simplistic association into question by drawing attention to an element of ("masculine") activity in her experience that other interpreters either overlooked or could not satisfactorily account for in their interpretations of her story. In Rom. 7:7-13 Eve in the scene of the primeval transgression (Genesis 2-3) becomes a figure of passivity and activity paradoxically conflated. In the following verses (7:14-25) Paul manipulates this conflation in order to illustrate the ego or self split under sin. Observing the unique way in which Paul employs the figure of Eve in Rom. 7:5-25 allows us to read the passage as a meditation on the primeval transgression offering a new perspective on the relationship between the self under sin and the law. This relationship bears deep structural similarities to the relationship of the infant to its mirror image that Jacques Lacan examines in his lecture "The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I" and a comparison between the two will clarify Paul's discussion of the connection between the self, the law, and sin in Rom. 7:5-25.


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