‘Vertical’ and ‘Horizontal’ in Paul’s Theology of Reconciliation in the Letter to the Romans

This paper was written to honour Vinay Samuel, the first director of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. I worked there for a dozen years after I retired from Leeds. I liked its vision and the students it brought me. 

Corneliu Constantineanu was the first person I supervised at OCMS and he became a dear friend. He then was Dean of Graduate Students at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia. Subsequently, he worked in Bucharest and then was professor of theology at the Aurel Vlaicu University of Arad, Romania. Sadly he died from covid on 17 March, 2021 – an immeasurable loss.

Corneliu’s doctoral dissertation was entitled The Social Significance of Reconciliation in Paul’s Theology, with Particular Reference to the Romanian Context. It was published in 2010 (Library of New Testament Studies).  

We often discussed the relation between vertical and horizontal readings of reconciliation, both in Paul, in theology generally, and in human, political practice. In this paper, I take our discussion a little further, in grateful memory.   

I am glad I was able to write this paper, 16 years ago, for several reasons, but especially for its final section on Romans 9-11.  The discovery that the theologian must risk thinking forward into the unknowable future, with God, for God, because of God, was new to me. Is it just a wild idea, an intellectual pleasure, or is it faithful discipleship?  

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