Divine Conspirator raised some questions about story and truth. The comments have been interesting. What I Think also offered insight. I ran across this quote from N.T. Wright in his commentary on Romans 5-8. He wrote,
Beneath the surface, however, and poking out like the tips of a huge iceberg at varous key points, there runs a different theme, not so often noticed. A word is necessary about the detection of apparently submerged themes. For centuries nobody minded when exegetes declared that Romans 1-4 was “about” justification and 5-8 “about” sanctification. These were regular topics in the systematic theology that sustained many churches and preachers; it seemed reasonable that Paul should develop his argument along such lines, and some sense could be made of the text on that basis (with little exceptions like 7:7-25; 8:18-25). The fact that Paul nowhere said that this was how he was dividing his material, and that so far as we know “justification” and “sanctification” did not function in his mind (or anyhone else’s in the first century) in the same way as they did in the church, did not seem to matter. But when people today propose alternative underlying themes, even when they are far more plausible within the mind of a Second Temple Jew, they are often howled down. “How can you be so sure?” they are asked. “Why does Paul not say it more openly if that’s what he meant?”(p.510)
Could this be a scholarly way of helping to locate the “text” in its “context” thereby giving us a means to truly “contextualize” the message?