- Series: Teach the Text Commentary Series
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Baker Books (January 15, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801092213
- ISBN-13: 978-0801092213
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #879,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Romans (Teach the Text Commentary Series) Hardcover – January 15, 2013
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From the Back Cover
An essential commentary for pastors
The Teach the Text Commentary Series gives pastors the best of biblical scholarship and presents the information needed to move seamlessly from the meaning of the text to its effective communication. By keeping the discussion in each carefully selected preaching unit to six pages of focused commentary, the volumes allow pastors to quickly grasp the most important information. Each unit of the commentary includes the big idea and key themes of the passage; sections dedicated to understanding, teaching, and illustrating the text; and full-color illustrations, maps, and photos.
C. Marvin Pate's volume on the book of Romans will inform and inspire pastors to make Paul's vital message to the Christians in Rome both understandable in its context and applicable to our lives today.
About the Author
C. Marvin Pate (PhD, Marquette University) is chair of the department of Christian theology, Elma Cobb Professor of Christian Theology at Ouachita Baptist University, and pastor of DeGray Baptist Church. He's the author, coauthor, or editor of many books, including The Writings of John, The Story of Israel, and The End of the Age Has Come: The Theology of Paul.
Mark L. Strauss (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary San Diego. He is the author or editor of many books and articles, including How to Read the Bible in Changing Times, Four Portraits, and One Jesus: An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels.
John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including A Survey of the Old Testament, Old Testament Today, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament.
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I find that the book of Romans is an excellent introduction to this new commentary series. Romans has been called the "Gospel of God through Paul." Beautiful in its usage of Greek, deep in its level of insight, and packed with theological truths and historical importance, the 5-part framework used not only helps readers to appreciate the overall flow of Romans, it energizes readers when it sheds light on how Romans is understood and can be applied. Every page is filled with thoughtful planning. Every table and illustration is appropriately placed to enlarge understanding, or to highlight its relevance to the overall flow. For instance, the map printed on the same page as Paul's historical travels not only highlights the different eras of the Roman Empire, it gives readers an idea of the cultural and the religious challenges Paul had to face. There are also links to other biblical books to help readers relate the Old Testament to the New Testament. One example is the table that shows how some scholars have made a parallel of Romans covenant structure and format with the Deuteronomy Hittite-treaty, and how the old and the new covenants are compared and contrasted in Romans.
The way the passages are selected has less to do with numbers and more to do with the themes of the epistle. At several sections, the author even introduces an additional chapter to highlight important rituals, sacraments, and history that the reader can benefit from. Commentary texts are professionally matched with different colour fonts and tables. Diagrams and photos give the texts a living reality. Just as preachers and teachers often try to give hearers a memory device or a mneumonic framework for understanding, this book gives readers a powerful grasp of the text through brilliant colour, illustrations, and point-by-point explanation of the background of the ancient world, and the modern applications possible. Difficult terms are explained, and with the layperson in mind, the book also highlights words that may be unfamiliar to the audience. Words like "parousia," themes like covenant, comparison between the old Jewish and the new Christian thinking, contrasting the curses and the blessings, the chosen people, even the historical development of the Reformation movement!
If I must do a critique, I will say that the diagrams and the illustrations can become a little too distracting. Worse, if it keeps the preacher more on the commentary and less on the actual biblical text itself, it may very well do the earnest Bible reader a disfavour. That said, the responsibility must eventually fall on the reader. Bearing this in mind, I must say this commentary series has very high potential to be a preachers' handbook for preaching and for teaching. Some of the illustrations used may not be universally applicable, but the point is moot. The illustrations themselves are simply examples on how the author will apply it. The preachers and teachers themselves need to do their own homework. After all, while the scholarship and the heavy lifting has been done on the text background, preachers and teachers need to do their own heavy lifting, of contextualizing what they have read for their own congregations or hearers. I look forward to the other volumes of this Teach the Text Commentary Series. The one on Romans is so well done that I cannot wait for the rest to be published.
If you are looking to refresh your Church or organization's library of commentary for preaching, make sure you check out this series.
Rating: 5 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me free by Baker Books and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
The biblical letter to the Romans is one of incredible depth, beauty, and passion. Thankfully, the author not only confirms Paul authorship, he also, in passing, defends the traditional view of Paul’s writing all thirteen on the NT letters attributed to him.
As with the rest of the series, the pictures, overall design, and clear layout make for a pleasant sight in the hands and on the shelf. It has a modern feel, and the information is clearly written and displayed. The sidebar discussions never fail to offer additional depth and clarity, and the visuals (graphs, pictures, charts, and paintings) help bring to life the truths that mere text may struggle to convey as effectively.
However, all is not quite as ideal once you get past the shiny gloss and colorful pictures.
Pate’s “Big Ideas” are, rather than the intended “concise, “ (see series introduction) are often lengthy and unnecessarily complex. One notable example is over 56 words long, and some others reach nearly that length. While some capture the Text better than others, even when they do, the focus of his illustrations doesn’t seem to emphasize the focus of the accompanying “Big Ideas,” leading one to wonder how to emphasize the very basic idea of the text, and why smaller, less significant, or side-issues would be so emphasized to the neglect of the Big Idea.
Another major problem comes deeper in the commentary. While in the introduction he states: “Paul and Romans: an unbeatable combination that delivers the knockout punch to any works-oriented righteousness before God…” He later says that “…salvation is first a matter of believing in the heart and then making that profession public through baptism.” (Pages 206; Romans 10:6-21) Again, in his section on 14:13-23 (page 274) he says “…The weak in faith may suffer loss of salvation at the judgement seat if they persist in disobeying their faith, even if their faith is mature.” Which would, then, make their works the determiner of being able to keep their salvation. While I am neither a Calvinist, nor an Arminian, (I’m a Molinist) I do believe in Eternal Security, and to see a commentator contradict himself in his own book is a bit unsettling, as is his seemingly requiring baptism for salvation, when the only mention of “baptism” in the book of Romans is several chapter earlier. (6:4) He then, (Page 195; Romans 9:6-29) playfully ends his discussion of Arminianism and Calvinism by (in not so many words) claiming that both are true, and hand-waves the paradox away by claiming the “ancient Hebrews seemed content to accept such antinomies.”
Like any “application” type commentary, some illustrations hit, and others…well, don’t. His, however, are often wonderful illustrations of a random truth; one rarely closely tied to his own “Big Idea.” An interview with another author in the series revealed that around half of the illustrations in the other book were from the editor, not the author, it seems that such may be the problem here. Few are connected well,
In his section on 2:17-24, he uses the analogy of loving a marriage license more than the spouse as a way to show that the Jews love for the Bible was outstripping their love for God. However, the Jewish love for the Bible (really, the Torah) was not their problem. God wants his people to love his law. The problem was that they boasted in keeping it, and thought that, by having it, they had a special privilege that would exempt them from God’s judging hand.
He splits Romans 5:1-4 and 5:5-11 into different “units” yet the big ideas are the same. The first of the pair has this as the Big Idea “Romans 5:1-11 presents three new-covenant blessings: peace, hope, and love (love will be covered in the next section).” While this may seem to be nothing more than an odd anomaly, it severely affects the illustration sections. Of the second “unit’s” illustrations, 3 of the 4 center around explaining the Trinity, and none go toward showing just how big God’s love was to reach out to his “enemies.” (V.10)
Overall, if you can pick it up on (deep) discount, it’s worth completing the set, and there’s certainly some good material to be found. Sadly, for being one of the more pricey volumes in the series, it seems to offer the least to those who read it. You simply cannot hold it to the high standard set by others in the series, and if you have a limited budget, I’d recommend passing for the time being. It’s a decent book, but nothing more. Quality and focus are sporadic, illustrations are often random, and thoughts seem disconnected. If you have the time and money, it’s a pretty addition to the shelf, but you’d better look elsewhere for your newest favorite book on Romans.
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