Book Review: Reading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism

Reading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple JudaismReading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism by Ben C. Blackwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book compiles articles from several scholars going chapter by chapter through Paul’s letter to the Romans in light of the literature and historical context of second temple Judaism. The authors compare and contrast the letter with writings from the Qumran community and the Apocryphal books, etc. to see what influence they may have had on Paul’s thinking.

Overall it was a good read. The book is insightful at times and also conjecturing and speculative at others. I don’t agree with the views of some that we have to read Paul through this particular lens in order to rightly understand him. However, this setting was a part of his milieu and does inform our understanding of the socio-historical setting of the New Testament.

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Book Review: Reading Romans after Supersessionism: The Continuation of Jewish Covenantal Identity

Reading Romans after Supersessionism: The Continuation of Jewish Covenantal IdentityReading Romans after Supersessionism: The Continuation of Jewish Covenantal Identity by J Brian Tucker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not thrilled with the term post-supersessionism as it could be construed that the non-supersessionist reading of the New Testament is new or more recent. The author acknowledges that supersessionist hermeneutics dominate contemporary scholarship, and I suppose that does give the appearance of being the traditional view. It would have been good to have had some treatment of the historicity of continuist, non-supersessionist hermeneutics.

Tucker focuses on Romans 9-11 and interacts with both the text and scholarship on different sides of this discussion. By the end of the book, he did a good job of bringing out the plural nature of the promises to the fathers, so fulfillment necessarily includes aspects of descendants of Abraham (Israel), land, and Gentiles inclusion.

I’m not entirely convinced by his arguments in Romans 14. He is influenced by the “spheres of influence” view of the continuing relevance of Torah. I personally need to do more work in this area, but it seems that view falls short in its assessment of the old covenant relationship to the new covenant and the extent of old covenant fulfillment. Further, it seems to divide the old covenant law into divisions nowhere made in scripture and doesn’t account for the all-or-nothing view in epistles such as Galatians or James, not to mention the book of Hebrews and the covenants discussion there. However, the continuing relevance of Torah is not entirely germane to his argument for non-supersessionist readings.

I appreciate the book and recommend it for study.

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Book Review: Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons

Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 ReasonsWhy I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons by John Piper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Piper reflects on characteristics of Paul that are held in tension and rare to find in a man. He weaves in lightly some of his own experience and what Paul has meant to him or helped him to see. It’s a mature reflection from a lifetime of study.

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