In Romans 4 Paul turns to the scriptural figure of Abraham, a vivid personification of faith and obedience in Jewish thought. While the most obvious reason for Paul's depiction of Abraham is to undermine any use of Abraham as a counterexample to his foregoing argument, Paul turns the common Jewish conception of Abraham on its head and offers him instead as positive support for his own position. The nature of Paul's argument in the previous two chapters of Romans has been identified by James Dunn and others as rejecting the Jewish assumption that covenant privileges are strictly associated with ethnic Israel and therefore unavailable to Gentiles. Over against the Torah, Paul has instead offered faith as the identifier or boundary marker of those who are members in God's people – a difference which allows Gentiles full participation in the covenant.
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