Reading Romans Backwards: A Gospel of Peace in the Midst of Empire
Published by: Baylor University Press
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Sales Date: 2021-08-15
Published: August 2021
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Page Count: 236 Pages
Illustrations: 1 b&w illus
Dimensions: 5.40 x 8.40
236 Pages, 5.40 x 8.40 x 0.50 in, 1 b&w illus
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To read Romans from beginning to end, from letter opening to final doxology, is to retrace the steps of Paul. To read Romans front to back was what Paul certainly intended. But to read Romans forward may have kept the full message of Romans from being perceived. Reading forward has led readers to classify Romans as abstract and systematic theology, as a letter unstained by real pastoral concerns.
But what if a different strategy were adopted? Could it be that the secret to understanding the relationship between theology and life, the key to unlocking Romans, is to begin at the letter?s end? Scot McKnight does exactly this in Reading Romans Backwards.
McKnight begins with Romans 12?16, foregrounding the problems that beleaguered the house churches in Rome. Beginning with the end places readers right in the middle of a community deeply divided between the strong and the weak, each side dug in on their position. The strong assert social power and privilege, while the weak claim an elected advantage in Israel?s history. Continuing to work in reverse, McKnight unpacks the big themes of Romans 9?11?God?s unfailing, but always surprising, purposes and the future of Israel?to reveal Paul?s specific and pastoral message for both the weak and the strong in Rome. Finally, McKnight shows how the widely regarded "universal" sinfulness of Romans 1?4, which is so often read as simply an abstract soteriological scheme, applies to a particular rhetorical character?s sinfulness and has a polemical challenge. Romans 5?8 equally levels the ground with the assertion that both groups, once trapped in a world controlled by sin, flesh, and systemic evil, can now live a life in the Spirit. In Paul?s letter, no one gets off the hook but everyone is offered God?s grace.
Reading Romans Backwards places lived theology in the front room of every Roman house church. It focuses all of Romans?Paul?s apostleship, God?s faithfulness, and Christ?s transformation of humanity?on achieving grace and peace among all people, both strong and weak. McKnight shows that Paul?s letter to the Romans offers a sustained lesson on peace, teaching applicable to all divided churches, ancient or modern.
Introduction: Lived TheologyPart One: A Community Needing PeaceRomans 12?16§1. Phoebe?The Face of Romans§2. The Greetings and the House Churches of Rome§3. Strong and Weak§4. Zealotry§5. Christoformity?Paul?s Vision for a Lived Theology of Peace§6. Christoformity Is Embodied God Orientation§7. Christoformity Is Embodied Body-of-Christ Orientation§8. Christoformity Is Public Orientation§9. Know the Time Is NowPart Two: A Narrative Leading to PeaceRomans 9?11§10. Where We?ve Been, Where We Are, Where We?re Headed§11. To the Weak§12. To the StrongPart Three: A Torah That Disrupts PeaceRomans 1?4§13. The Opening to the Letter§14. The Rhetoric of Romans 1?2§15. Reading Romans 2 after Romans 1§16. The First Question?Advantage§17. The Second Question?Boasting in Advantage§18. The Third Question?Abraham, Faith, and AdvantagePart Four: A Spirit Creating PeaceRomans 5?8§19. All§20. You and We§21. IConclusion: Reading Romans Forwards, in Brief
A superbly presented work of New Testament scholarship, Reading Romans Backwards: A Gospel of Peace in the Midst of Empire is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to church, seminary, community, college, and university library New Testament Studies collections.Midwest Book Review
McKnight?s style is on a popular but still profound level as he lays out Paul?s pastoral theology for the Christian community in Rome with an emphasis on reconciliation and peacemaking. This is a very helpful and refreshing perspective on Paul?s magnificent letter.Donald Senior, The Bible Today
McKnight?s serious treatment of the lived theology of Romans will make this book interesting for scholars specializing in New Testament, theology, and religious studies. Seminary-trained pastors will appreciate the emphasis on the pastoral nature of Romans, though McKnight?s backward reading may change the way they approach the letter indefinitely.Brandon F. Babcock, Reading Religion