The principal concern of New Testament scholars in turning to the paraenesis found in Romans 12–13 is the question of whether this reflects knowledge of the Jesus-tradition on the part of St. Paul. This article suggests that hunting for Pauline parallels in synoptic material, and asking whether these indicate direct knowledge of Jesus’s teaching on St. Paul’s part, is to miss the point that regardless of its origin, this material is transmitted through catechesis. The parallels with synoptic material are inexact, but the paraenesis of Romans 12–13 is set within a baptismal frame. As such, it provides no information of St. Paul’s knowledge of Jesus traditions, but rather it indicates the nature of catechesis in the earliest Christian communities. Moreover, the number of parallels in the paraenesis of Romans 12–13 and in the two ways chapters of the Didache (1–5) — which are demonstrably catechetical in purpose — is striking, though there are further parallels with the catechetical tradition elsewhere (such as Pliny’s report of Christian activities and in the Elchesite baptismal ritual). This leads to the further observation that this catechesis is shaped in a specifically Jewish context; Paul is thus employing a recognizably Jewish form of catechesis in the paraenesis of Romans 12–13, in order to commend his teaching to an audience which is primarily Jewish.
Keywords: theology, catechetics, biblical studies, paraenesis, Romans, catechesis, Didache, two ways tradition, Baptismal renunciation, Doctrina apostolorum