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Why Do You Judge Your Brother ?
The Rhetorical Function of Apostrophizing in Rom 14:1–15:13

2020, pp. 296.

The investigation of the use of apostrophe in Rom 14:4, 10 suggests that Paul questions some members of the community for despising and passing judgment on others. In dealing with this concern, Paul steps back from the current situation to take a broader view and urges his hearers to do likewise. This way of proceeding allows Paul to invite the reader to recognize others as brothers. The presence of the apostrophe is, however, only one feature of Paul’s reasoning in the section. The diatribal question in Rom 14:4, 10 also hints at the way Paul exhorts his audience, alternating between dissuasion and persuasion. Indeed, in order to persuade the addressees to welcome others or to bear with their failings, Paul seeks to dissuade them from causing others to stumble. The sequence of exhortations and rationales serves the same purpose: to effect a change in the mind of the reader by strengthening a communal “we.” Through dissuasion and persuasion Paul shapes his reader’s mind according to a new set of values that are not only theological or Christological but also ethical. Paul’s argumentation thus guides the reader into the heart of the communal “we,” which grounds unanimity and reciprocity, mutual ethical understanding and joint liturgical worship.

Juan Manuel Granados Rojas, S.J., is a Jesuit priest who teaches New Testament exegesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.