The diversity that exists within the history of the church's engagement with Rom 4 demonstrates the difficulty in understanding Paul's question "What shall we say about our father Abraham?" and the answer he provides. Paul's teaching on "imputing" Abraham's faith as justice and his opposition to "works of the flesh," however, were key points for the Reformers' disputes against the Catholic Church's teaching on justification as transformation and the inclusion of works in justification. In this essay, I explore the theological interpretations of John Calvin, a clear proponent of the imputational model of justification, and Thomas Aquinas, a clear articulator of the transformational model, and analyze how they address Paul's teaching on works of the flesh and justification by faith. I illustrate how philosophical and theological judgments pertaining to the relation of justification to the law, the dynamics of justification itself, and the causal relationship between divine and human willing interact with the text of Rom 4 to produce two distinct articulations of what Paul says about our father Abraham. I conclude by noting that Calvin's concerns are largely met by Aquinas's interpretation but without the strong dichotomy between justification by faith and justification by works.

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