Study Guide

Epistle to the Romans Allusions

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Literary and Philosophical References

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    The epigraph to Tolstoy's 1877 novel is Romans 12:19—"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Right off the bat, things are not looking good.
  • The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare
    Paulina's name links her to St. Paul. At the end of the play, the king's wife is even miraculously resurrected in her house. Bet Paul wishes he could have pulled something like that off.
  • Confessions by St. Augustine of Hippo
    Augustine converts to Christianity after randomly reading Romans 13:13-14 — "Let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." Yeah. He had some issues.
  • Paradiso by Dante Alighieri
    When St. Peter asks Dante what faith is, he quotes St. Paul back to him. We're imagining Peter rolling his eyes a little bit at that.
  • Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Peterson
    The title of this young adult novel comes from Romans 9:13: "As it is written, 'I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.'" Harsh words, Paul.
  • The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
    Clym quotes Romans 8:22 while bemoaning his state in the world: "I get up every morning and see the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain, as St. Paul says."
  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
    Faustus also dips into the Bible a bit. He sits alone reading and eventually stumbles upon Romans 6:23—"the wages of sin is death." Oh, Faustus, you have no idea.
  • The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners by Jonathan Edwards
    This 1734 sermon by the famous Puritan preacher is based on Romans 3:19: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God." Justification by faith alone in the house, y'all.

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