Birthing the Children of God: Echoes of Theogony in Romans 8.19-23

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In depicting an apocalyptic expectation of the revelation of God's children (Rom 8.19-23), Paul personifies 'creation': awaiting the revelation of these children, she 'groans and suffers pains of childbirth'. While Paul's vision is framed with scriptural allusions, Greek and Roman images of Earth Mother also provide a relevant juxtaposition. This study recovers such a context by surveying sources ranging from Hesiod's Gaia to the Roman Terra Mater. Philo provides an especially relevant comparative model, as he relates biblical cosmology to Greek mythological sources and asserts that earth's role as mother is also attested in Genesis. In light of these comparisons, fresh insights emerge: maternal creation gives birth to a new divine era, yet for Paul this remains a future hope rather than a past (mythological) or present (political) occurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-260
Number of pages15
JournalNew Testament Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Gaia
  • Hesiod
  • Paul
  • Romans
  • Tellus/Terra Mater
  • creation
  • mythology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Religious studies


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