Reading Romans in Context
Ben C. Blackwell,
John K. Goodrich,
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Zondervan Academic
Released: July 28, 2015
Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Readers of Paul today are more than ever aware of the importance of interpreting Paul’s letters in their Jewish context. In Reading Romans in Context a team of Pauline scholars go beyond a general introduction that surveys historical events and theological themes and explore Paul’s letter to the Romans in light of Second Temple Jewish literature.
In this non-technical collection of short essays, beginning and intermediate students are given a chance to see firsthand what makes Paul a distinctive thinker in relation to his Jewish contemporaries. Following the narrative progression of Romans, each chapter pairs a major unit of the letter with one or more thematically related Jewish text, introduces and explores the theological nuances of the comparative text, and shows how these ideas illuminate our understanding of the book of Romans.
Reading Romans in Context is an essay collection that looked at various themes found in Romans and in Second Temple Jewish literature. Paul sometimes counters an argument that he apparently believes will be brought against his teachings, but it's not always clear what that argument is. By looking at Second Temple Jewish literature (like the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, and the writings of Philo or Josephus), we can discover what other Jews around that time were teaching. The authors compare these to Romans to find similarities and where the teachings diverge.
The authors had a good understanding of Paul's teachings and used the comparison to add insights and nuances to our understanding of Romans. I found the essays interesting, especially the one on distinctive food habits. I didn't have any trouble following their arguments. There was a glossary in the back, but the terms were defined well enough in the text that I never needed to use it. I'd recommend this book to those interested in this topic.
Phrases and themes that were studied were: "son of God," God's wrath and divine justice, circumcision and covenant identity, "works of the law," "righteousness of God," the faith of Abraham, suffering of the righteous, death through Adam, slavery to sin or to righteousness, the Law's role, evil desires, human glorification linked to death, why God blesses or curses a person, righteousness by law vs. by faith and one's ability to keep the Law, Gentile inclusion, right living--self mastery vs. divine enabling, how one should interact with the government, distinctive food habits, God's role in our giving to the poor, and women in church ministry and leadership.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
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