Thursday, February 26, 2009
Finding Astrology in Romans 8
Romans 8: 38-39
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other creatures will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
While doing some digging around for Roman Catholic interpretations of these verses, I checked the footnotes of The New Catholic Answer Study Bible. Of course, if the magisterium would actually provide an infallible interpretation, it would save me a lot of time, and it would be a lot more accurate with what Rome actually says theses verses mean. But till then, I'm going to have to rely on the private interpretations of Rome's defenders.
Here were the commentary notes from page 1219 of the NCAB
8:38 Present things and future things may refer to astrological data. Paul appears to be saying that the gospel liberates believers from dependence on astrologers.
8:39 Height, depth may refer to positions in the zodiac, positions of heavenly bodies relative to the horizon. In astrological documents the term for "height" means "exaltation" or the position of greatest influence exerted by a planet. Since hostile spirits were associated with the planets and stars, Paul includes powers (38) in his list of malevolent forces.
Contrarily, Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology states,
There could possibly be a reference to the worship of angelic beings in some of Paul's writings, notably in Galatians 4:3 and Colossians 2:15, 20, where the veneration of celestial bodies, particularly among Colossian Christians, was being condemned. Less probably is the speculation that the depth (Gk. bathos [bavqo"]) and height (Gk. hypsoma [u&ywma]) as in Romans 8:39 can be interpreted astrologically. If anything, they are astronomical terms intended to denote space in relation to the earth. It would thus appear that the New Testament contains no explicit statements that would support the practice of astrology. [source]
Now, what concerns me is not the difference in opinion between the NCAB and Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Rather, I've been told recently that "Tradition" includes the way the Roman Catholic Church has interpreted a text. I would be interested in knowing if any Early Church Father supports the interpretation of the NCAB. If not, then why didn't the NCAB include the "consensus" as to what these verses mean? I skimmed through my Ancient Christian Commentary on Romans (vol. VI), and didn't see anything about astrology. Wouldn't it be more "Catholic" to actually tell us what Tradition says these verses mean?