Updated July 2019
Waetjen on Romans: A Hermeneutics of Disclosure and Justice by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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A Hermeneutics of Disclosure and Justice:
A Reading of Herman Waetjen’s The Letter to the Romans: Salvation as Justice and the Deconstruction of the Law
Herman Waetjen offers a profound reading of Paul that takes as its clue Romans 1:17: “For (gar) the justice of God (dikaiosynē theou) is being revealed in it [the gospel] out of trust into trust (ek pisteōs eis pistin) even as it is written, ‘The just will live out of trust (ek pisteōs)’.” What follows understands Herman’s project to be an example of the hermeneutics of disclosure that calls not only the Christian community but also all humanity to do justice in faith/trust. This paper applauds enthusiastically Herman’s reading of Paul and places it in the context of the relationship between what Kant calls “historical” and “pure” religion. In short, although one can neither prove nor disprove whether the Christ event involves an ontological change in the human condition that establishes a New Moral Order as an “historical” religion claims, one can unequivocally affirm that a deconstructed (de-mythologized) Paul challenges humanity “to become what we are” in the sense of trusting in the “law that is above law” to pursue justice “this side of the grave.” Here we have a concrete example of “pure” religion at the core of a “historical” religion and of a New Testament scholar as vanguard engineer of the locomotive of faith rather than leading a rear guard at the back of the train defending “Reformation heresy.”