ABSTRACT

Romans 8:19–22 and its "groaning creation" have long provoked lively discussion and disagreement among commentators. Alongside more traditional historical criticism, the passage has recently been the subject of theologically driven interpretation in a particular vein. Commentators responding to the "ecological crisis" have utilized the text to explore the intersection of biblical studies and environmental concerns. This study seeks to enter these wider interpretive discussions with historical perspective. In this article, I trace Patristic exegesis of the text through the fourth century, with special attention to the "Rule of Faith" and its fruitfulness as an ancient–and perhaps contemporary—hermeneutic. Figures that I analyze in detail include Irenaeus, Ambrosiaster, Origen, and Augustine. The study concludes by suggesting that the early church's Rule was indeed an effective interpretive tool in regard to Rom 8:19–22—but only under certain conditions.

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