In Rom 4:18, Paul cites the “promise” to Abraham in LXX Gen 15:5, “so shall your seed be” (οὕτως ἔσται τὸ σπέρμα σου) in relation to what it means to “become the father of many nations” from Gen 17:5. Modern scholars have traditionally understood the relationship Paul sees between these two texts quantitatively, as promising a multitude of descendants made up of Jews and Gentiles. Conversely, some early Jewish interpreters of Gen 15:5 (and related texts such as Gen 22:17; 26:4) such as Philo, Sirach, and the author(s) of the Apocalypse of Abraham understood the promise qualitatively, as speaking not only of multiplication but of transformation into the likeness of the stars and assumption of their power. Reading Paul's use of Gen 15:5 in light of this qualitative interpretation places him within the context of already well-established deification or angelomorphic traditions in early Judaism that see the destiny of Abraham's seed as replacing the stars as the divine or angelic inheritors of the nations. This tradition may provide a more fitting explanation of the relationship Paul sees between Gen 17:5 and 15:5 in the wider context of the argument of Rom 4. This reading could illuminate the relationship between a complex nexus of ideas that Paul sees implicit in the one promise to Abraham in Gen 15:5. The promise of becoming as the stars of heaven would encompass the inheritance of the cosmos, becoming a father of many nations, and the resurrection from the dead.

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