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3 Great Off-the-Beaten Path Books about Romans

January 23, 2013

Abraham by WordleOver the past couple of months I’ve spent a good deal of time in Romans 4. The more I study Paul’s magnum opus, the more amazed I am by all that he packed in and the way he did it.

In my reading and writing on Romans, I’ve come across some great monographs. Here are three, with a sample quote from each. I’ll do three more tomorrow.

Pablo T. Gadenz, Called from the Jews and from the Gentiles: Pauline Ecclesiology in Romans 9-11. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.)

In sum, Christians in the Church, stemming from Jewish and Gentile origins, can rejoice together in the salvation available by faith in Christ to all without distinction. “Rejoice, O nations, with his people!” (Rom 15:10). With humility, they can marvel at God’s plan for Israel, of which the Gentile-Christians in particular are beneficiaries. “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” (Rom 11:33) (p. 328)

Israel Kamudzandu, ‪Abraham As Spiritual Ancestor: ‪A Postcolonial Zimbabwean Reading of Romans 4. (Leiden: Brill, 2010.)

In Romans 4, Paul elevates Abraham as an ancestor of a new Israel, which includes Jews and Gentiles. …In this new situation, Paul gives a new meaning to the Torah as an integrator of all nations of the world. (p. 98)

Philip Francis EslerConflict and Identity in Romans(Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009.) I love this assessment. Before reading Esler, this is just how I had begun to understood Paul’s use of Abraham in Romans 4. Though he expresses it more eloquently than I could:

Above all, [the account of Abraham in Romans 4] carries forward Paul’s aim of recategorizing Judean and non-Judean Christ-followers in Rome into the new ingroup identity and does so by mobilizing collective memories to explain how both subgroups claim ancestry from Abraham in the same way—righteousness credited to them through faith. Abraham thus becomes the prototype of the new identity, portrayed by Paul in a manner peculiar to the needs of this communication and in the face of many rival construals of this patriarch that were possible in the ongoing processing of the past to serve the needs of the present. (p. 194)

Three more recommendations tomorrow.

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