Sunday, July 01, 2007
Mark Reasoner: Romans in Full Circle
Mark Reasoner's volume Romans in Full Circle (see Google Books for a preview) is one of the best volumes I've read in a long time. He concentrates on several loci of Romans such as 1.16-17, 3.21-26, 5.18-21, etc and he looks at how different commentators over the centuries have handled these passages (e.g. Origen, Augustine, Abelard, Aquinas, Luther, Barth, post-Barthians). I learnt several interesting things such as Origen entertained the idea of the subjective genitive interpretation for the pistis christou phrase in Rom. 3.22, Barth and Erasmus both interpreted Rom. 1.17 in terms of God's faithfulness, and there has been some interesting discussions on universalism and Rom. 5.18-21, 11.32. So far (I'm only half-way through the book) I'm disappointed that there wasn't any or much on Ambrosiaster, Chrysostom, and Calvin. I think you need to read Ambrosiaster before you read Augustine esp. on Rom. 5.12. While Reasoners sees the history of interpretation as the salvation of the individual emphasis epitomized by Augustine versus the Jew-ethne line epitomized by Origen, I think Augustine was a little more aware of salvation-historical themes than what Reasoner gives him credit for. This is a good volume that those interested in biblical and theological studies should attempt to read it sometime.
The blurb reads:
The New Testament book of Romans has played an important role in the life of the church from the period of the early church and through to the present day. In this concise survey of the major theological changes associated with Paul's letter, Mark Reasoner focuses on its history and interpretation, particularly through the works of Origen, Augustine, the medieval exegetes, Luther, and Barth. In doing so, he reveals that by a circuitous route, western Christians in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are returning to reading Romans in ways very similar to Origen's concerns in the third century. This is true particularly in regard to issues of the human will, sensitivity to Jews and Judaism, openness to the possibility of universalism, and a deconstructive reading of the obedience to government passage in Romans 13. Thus, in addition to giving a helpful overview of Romans itself, this book will help readers situate their theological questions within the two thousand-year history of conversations about Paul's letter to Roman believers.