July 29, 2012

Richard Longenecker, Introducing Romans

Longenecker provides an informative and in-depth survey of the major background issues to the study of Romans. It is basically composed of the material you'd expect to find in the intro of a commentary, but at greater depth. There is some repetition between the chapters, and some of the book could have been tightened up through more smoothly relating the various chapters to one another. It also seemed that his discussion interacted most with sources that were at least a decade or more old (at one point he refers to an article from 1997 as "recent"), though he does selectively draw on some recent studies. But his conclusions are well-reasoned and balanced. There isn't much that is earth-shattering. But I found one of his foundational insights rather fruitful. In his discussion of the recipients, he surveys Roman Christianity, and one of the assertions he makes is that, much like the Judaism in that city, the Roman Christians would have had a close connection with Jerusalem. This is fruitful because it means that it would not have only been ethnic Jews who may have held the law in high regard and may have held a key place for it in the plan of salvation. This insight comes up in a number of chapters and helps reread some of the evidence for what Romans is about in a fresh light. There is definitely much of benefit here, and it certainly whets the appetite for the full commentary (to which he defers discussions repeatedly). In all, a nice volume by a wise scholar.