The vexata quaestio of the letter to the Romans is both the starting point and destination of this study. This vexata quaestio of Romans owes its existence to a hermeneutical conundrum: At first glance, the situational context, in which Paul was situated at the time of his writing, does not seem to correspond to its theological context, in which Paul s theological perspectives could be substantiated. In other words, this hermeneutical conundrum drives a wedge between why Paul wrote this letter and what/how Paul spoke of in this letter. When it comes to the situational context of Romans, it is not easily concretized into the epistolary framework of this letter. As a result, speculation looms large in reconstructing such a situational context more than the text of Romans itself can support, and thereby the theological context of this letter comes to be contingent on the speculation of the why of the matter. It is for this reason that we are faced with various implications of the vexata quaestio of the letter to the Romans in the scholarly arena of Pauline studies. Especially, the vexata quaestio of this letter revolves around (1) Paul s overall purpose in writing it to the Roman church he neither founded nor visited beforehand; and (2) Paul s use of quotations from the Jewish Scriptures in the course of his argumentation, which appears to be frequent but concentrated in this letter more than in his other letters.
In order to steer away from too much speculation, this study draws attention to distinctive epistolary conventions such as the letter opening, the thanksgiving period, the apostolic parousia, and the letter closing. A comparative study of the form and function of distinctive epistolary conventions will give a glimpse of the why, namely Paul s overall purpose in writing this letter. It is considered that the reason why Paul wrote this letter is to proclaim his gospel according to his apostolic responsibility. This overall purpose functions as standard controls in reading the content (Jervis 1991:27). It compels us to look into the contours of Paul s argumentation in Romans 1 11, which will be interdependent with the overall purpose of the letter. In doing so, we come to the conclusion that the following pattern unfolds as an essential literary texture of Romans 1 11, namely themanner of a rhetorical question + Paul s response with ?? ???????
in an emphatic manner + his use of quotations from the Jewish Scriptures. Including
such an essential literary texture of Romans 1 11, it is worth noting that Paul s use of
quotations from the Jewish Scriptures appears to be coupled with its respective rhetorical
questions at several significant points in the course of Paul s argumentation in Romans
1 11. It necessitates launching into the three-dimensional approach to Paul s use of
quotations from the Jewish Scriptures in order to better understand how Paul managed to
unfold what he spoke of in the letter body. The three-dimensional approach consists of
the tradition-historical investigation, textual version comparison, and hermeneutical
investigation, which serves to shed more light on the functional dimension in this quest
for the Vorlage (Steyn 2011:24). This three-dimensional approach allows us to delve
into Paul s theological perspectives. In doing so, we come to the conclusion that Paul s
use of quotations from the Jewish Scriptures carries a soteriological significance.
All in all, this study is aimed at dealing with this vexata quaestio of Paul s letter to the
Romans, which revolves around the literary genre, Paul s overall purpose in writing this
letter, and his use of quotations from the Jewish Scriptures, in a holistic manner. In doing
so, this study can pave the way for a better understanding of how Paul managed to unfold
what he spoke of in the letter body in terms of why he wrote this letter to the Roman