Livesey, Nina E. "Sounding Out the Heirs of Abraham (Rom. 4:9-12). Oral Tradition 27:1 (2012), 273-290.
Livesey considers "oral cues such as repetition and word placement" (Livesey 2012, 273) as very important elements of reception of complex oral material. The auditor, thus, is a very active listener, possibly more so than a scholar reading a text. Sound mapping, identifying the natural breaks of the spoken material, proves useful in building an interpretive framework (Livesey 2012, 274). To assist scholars in their research, Livesey demonstrates with an analysis of Romans 4:9-12. The goal is to adequately identify the ethnic group referred to in the last phrase of verse 12.
At issue in the question of Romans chapter four is whether Paul considers both Jews and Gentiles to become heirs of Abraham on the same terms. At issue is a dative plural article which, if present, equates the Gentiles with the Jews on completely equal terms (Livesey 2012, 275). Livesey provides an extensive review of the challenge centered around the article, including a summary of the relevant critical apparatus in a number of Greek editions (Livesey 2012, 276). The article itself is not a matter of dispute, but whether it is appropriate to interpret the passage taking account of the article is the issue (Livesey 2012, 277).
Livesey maintains that the use of the article "contributes to the balance and harmonic quality of the entire unit" (Livesey 2012, 278). The repeated reference to the uncircumcised in the passage shows them to be a principal focus.
After providing a Greek and English text which divides the material into sensible chunks (the term I have typically used as a language educator), Livesey observes that the emphasis is on the uncircumcised throughout (Livesey 2012, 280). Not only do we see this in the vocabulary but also in the rhythm and harmonious arrangement of the words. The placement of the word δικαιοσύνην ("righteousness") in the second period associates it with ἀκροβθστίαν ("uncircumcision") in the first period (Livesey 2012, 281). One of these two word units ("lexemes") ends all but the last two periods. The hiatus before the first use of Abraham's name here also draws him into the passage as the critical figure of both righteousness and uncircumcision (Livesey 2012, 282). In the end, Abraham received the sign of circumcision after he received righteousness by faith. The purpose, judging from this passage, was so he could "be the father to all those who trust through foreskin, or while they are themselves in foreskin" (Livesey 2012, 283). The use of the article creates the rhythmic pattern needed to complete the sound set up by the words for righteousness, circumcision, and uncircumcision (Livesey 2012, 284). It rightly contributes to drawing our attention to the uncircumcised as recipients of righteousness.