The Divine-Human Relationship in Romans 1-8 in the Light of Interdependence Theory

  • Yoonjong Kim

Student thesis: Phd


The present thesis aims to analyse the divine-human relationship in Paul's theology, focusing on Paul's portrayal of the relationship in Romans 1-8. The issue of the divine-human relationship has been treated by multiple Pauline studies with various foci, for instance, the issues of agency, the apocalyptic character of Paul's gospel, the concept of charis, and the covenantal relationship. Nevertheless, these approaches often do not pay sufficient attention to the fact that the divine-human relationship in Romans is not static but exhibits progression and development towards a goal. As a result of this, such studies cannot effectively address the significance of the human agent's role in the relationship, a role which changes at each stage of the relationship's development. In order to offer a different perspective, the present thesis utilises a social psychological theory, namely, interdependence theory (IT). IT offers a consistent analytic framework for diagnosing the interactions in a dyadic relationship in terms of the dependency created by each partner's expectations of outcomes. By deploying IT, we explore several key stages of the divine-human relationship and the direction in which the relationship develops throughout Romans 1-8 in order to highlight the significance of the human partners in the course of the development. The key stages include: betrayal (1.18-3.20), restoration (3.21-26; 5.1-11), the oppressive relationship with Sin (5.12-8.11), and the investment for the future (8.12-39). From our investigation, we conclude that although the foundation of the relationship rests on God's initiative, the divine outworking guides the relationship so that it facilitates mutual participation of the human partners in the restoration and development of the relationship toward the ultimate goal. Another contribution of the present study can be found in our attempt to introduce IT to the field of NT studies through our methodological considerations.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTodd Klutz (Supervisor) & Peter Oakes (Supervisor)


  • interdependence theory
  • social-scientific criticism
  • the divine-human relationship
  • Romans 1-8

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