Monday, November 06, 2006

Stanley Porter and Romans

While I'm at it I thought I might plug the book by Stan Porter on Romans.

This new addition to the Readings series of commentaries, expounding the letter paragraph by paragraph, is distinctive among commentaries on Romans in foregrounding a literary approach. To comprehend the letter, Porter shows, we must always be aware of the letter-writing and rhetorical conventions its author was deploying.

The commentary is organized around the five-part epistolary structure that Paul developed for this fundamental letter, a structure that gives shape to its logically unfolding theological argument. Recognizing this structure is vital for interpreting the traditional sections of the body of the letter, as well as for understanding the placement of the problematic chapters 9–11 within Paul’s thought.

One of the primary means of development Paul uses within the letter is the diatribe style as a rhetorical device for shaping and presenting his argument. Through the insistent questions and responses of the diatribe, Paul opens up the major theological issues of the letter—human depravity, sin and works, justification and righteousness, reconciliation, life in the Spirit, and the role of Israel.

Stanley E. Porter is President and Dean, and Professor of New Testament, at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario.

Porter has written a few articles on Romans already (esp. Romans 5) and they provide a good taste of what is to come. Distinguishing features of this commentary, I imagine, would be a preference for epistolary genre over a rhetorical genre, a good exegesis of the Greek at certain points (e.g. katallasso), and probably some use of discourse analysis.

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