Erin Heim — Adoption in Galatians and Romans
Episode: When people say, “Well, that’s only a metaphor,” what exactly do they mean? A new book on metaphors in the NT takes on the literal versus metaphorical dichotomy, claiming that it is a false dichotomy. Metaphors in Paul, are not merely illustrative, but creatively evoke true meaning in a way that so-called “literal” cannot. Considering that Paul’s use of the term “righteousness” (δικαιωσυνη) itself is a metaphor, so is “redemption” and “enslaved,” which means that “freedom” might also be a metaphor.
In this episode of OnScript, Dru Johnson interviews Dr. Erin Heim, assistant professor of NT at Denver Seminary about her book: Adoption in Galatians and Romans: Contemporary Metaphor Theories and the Pauline HUIOTHESIA Metaphors (Brill, 2017).
About the book: (From the publisher’s website) In a new study on the Pauline adoption metaphors, Erin Heim applies a wide array of contemporary theories of metaphor in a fresh exegesis of the four instances of adoption (huiothesia) metaphors in Galatians and Romans. Though many investigations into biblical metaphors treat only their historical background, Heim argues that the meaning of a metaphor lies in the interanimation of a metaphor and the range of possible backgrounds it draws upon. Using insights from contemporary theories, Heim convincingly demonstrates that the Pauline adoption metaphors are instrumental in shaping the perceptions, emotions, and identity of Paul’s first-century audiences.
Erin has also written an essay in Making Sense of Motherhood. It’s a great book, and slightly easier on the wallet!
About the author: Dr. Erin Heim earned a Ph.D. from the University of Otago (NZ), an M.A. from Denver Seminary, and a B.Mus. from the University of Minnesota. Her doctoral thesis on the Pauline adoption metaphors was named an exceptional thesis in the division of the humanities at the University of Otago and became the book discussed in this podcast. Dr. Heim regularly presents academic papers at professional conferences on biblical literature, hermeneutics, and New Testament backgrounds. She speaks and writes on issues surrounding contemporary practices of adoption, and the need for responsible theological dialogue surrounding the adoption of children.
OnScript Hot Take: Though a monograph, Adoption in Galatians and Romans is a readable book that keeps a wide audience in mind. Heim does the work of carefully bringing the reader into the wide world of metaphor theory and the historical backgrounds to adoption in Roman and Jewish contexts. It’s fair to say that you’ll probably not be able to see adoption the same in Pauline theology after this book, and the same goes for metaphor. Listen to the end for some very prescient personal wisdom from Dr. Heim on the impacts of her study for contemporary adoption and how to speak of it in the church today!
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