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Bultmann on the Personification of Sin

Bultmann on the Personification of Sin

Speaking of Bulmann’s Theology of the NT (which you can win), here’s a bit I like on Paul’s personification of sin in Romans:

“Sin” particularly appears in this way as if it were a personal being. It “came into the world” (Rom. 5:12) and “achieved dominion” (Rom. 5:21 Blt.). Man is enslaved to it (Rom. 6:6, 17ff.) sold under it (Rom. 7:14); or man places himself at its disposal (Rom. 6:13) and it pays him wages (Rom. 6:23). Sin is also thought of as if it were a personal being when it is said to have been dead but to have revived (Rom. 7:8f.), or to have used the Torah to rouse desire in man and to have deceived and killed him (Rom. 7:8, 11, 13), or to “dwell” and act in man (Rom. 7:17, 20).

Little as all this constitutes realistic mythology—it is not that, but figurative, rhetorical language—it is, nevertheless, clear that this language stamps flesh and sin as powers to which man has fallen victim and against which he is powerless. The personification of these powers expresses the fact that man has lost to the m the capacity to be the subject of his own actions.

–Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of New Testament (vol 1; Waco: Baylor University Press, 2007), 245.

Succinctness is something I find more in the old writers. They say more with less.

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