I'm finishing up my comments on Paul's letter to the Romans, and I'm reading through some random articles on the famous passage, Rom. 13.1–7. I find myself persuaded by Stowers, Das, and Co. that Paul writes Romans with an audience of gentile believers in mind, whether or not he also knew that there were Jewish believers in Rome. This is an important point: No amount of evidence for the presence of Jewish Christians in Rome early in Nero's reign (56–58 CE) changes the fact that, wherever Paul explicitly identifies his audience in the text itself (his "encoded audience"), he identifies them as gentiles (e.g., 1.5–7, 14; 11.13; 15.15–16, 18). Though Paul has quite a bit to say about Jews and/or Jewish believers (see esp. chapters 9–11, 16), nothing in Romans strikes me as Paul speaking to them. This is a minority position among Romans scholarship, as far as I can tell, but it clarifies a number of problems that have historically attended the interpretation of this long and complicated letter. (For the proof that supports this assertion, you'll need to contact a certain publisher in Grand Rapids, Mich., beg them to accept and publish my book, and then buy the book and read it.)
We might simply add the evidence of Paul's letter to Rome itself. For though it is clearly writen with Gentiles particularly in view (1.6,13-15; 11.13,17-21), it also presupposes a thorough knowledge of the ÖT and a considerable concern with Jewish self-identity. This could conceivably be a matter of Paul's self-indulgence, writing to satisfy his own concerns, regardless of whether his readership was able to make much sense of what he said. But this is very unlikely: the situation of the Roman Christians alreadly outlined above would almost certainly mean that questions of Jewish self-identity were questions for many Jewish Christians in Rome as well as for Paul; and the preservation of the letter by Roman Christianity implies that it was valued for its relevance in Rome. It should also be noted that knowledge of the OT within the ancient world was confined almost wholly to Jewish and Jewish-derived communities: the LXX is not known in Greco-Roman literary circles. Consequently to be able to assume such a knowledge of the scriptures as Paul does in Romans he would have to assume that his readership by and large had enjoyed a substantial link with the synagogues in Rome. (pp. 57–58)
Then, in almost the same context, Dunn writes:
At the same time there is clear evidence that the Jewish community in Rome was quite influential. For example, a population of 40,000 to 50,000 made them a substantial minority ethnic group within Rome itself, and because of Jewish support for Julius Ceasar Jews were given special privileges denied to other religious groups 'to assemble and feast in accordance with the native customs and ordinances' (Josephus, Ant 14.214–6). Cicero in his speech on behalf of Flaccus says he will speak softly since the attendant crowd were liable to favour the Jews (Flacc 28.66–67). Horace speaks of the success of Jewish proselytization—'we, like the Jews, will compel you to make one of our throng' (Serm 1.4.142–3). Judaism evidently proved attractive to not a few, including ladies of nobility like Fulvia and Poppaea, the wife of Nero (Josephus, Ant 18.82; 20.195). And early in the second century Juvenal complains about the way Judaism spread its influence by gradually winning over whole families—pork abstaining and sabbath-observing fathers who were surpassed by their sons going on to embrace circumcision and the whole Jewish law (Sat 14.96–106). No doubt it was precisely this attractiveness to some which made the Jews all the more hated and feared by others. (pp. 58–59)
My question: Is it legitimate for Dunn to imply that Romans must address an audience that includes Jewish members ("a substantial link with the synagogues") because the Septuagint (a Greek version of the Old Testament, abbreviated "LXX") was a back-water text, known only within Jewish circles, and then on the very next page to assert Judaism's attraction to gentiles? Granted that "Greco-Roman literary circles" weren't impressed with the LXX, if Roman Jews had made substantial inroads into various gentile communities and attracted a large (even alarming) number of proselytes, wouldn't the Hebrew biblical corpus find a sympathetic audience among precisely these gentiles? And if believers in Rome, for whatever reason, where no longer associated with/welcomed in the synagogues, doesn't Judaism's/the LXX's reception among gentiles in Rome leave open the possibility that Paul writes to precisely those to whom he claims to write (i.e., gentile believers in Rome)?
On closer inspection, I notice that Dunn mentions "Jewish and Jewish-derived communities" (my emphasis). But what, I would ask, is a "Jewish-derived community" if not a gentile community for whom the Hebrew Bible, probably in Greek (i.e., the LXX) had taken on authoritative (inspired?) status? I cannot see that Dunn's treatment of this particular issue is helpful.