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Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of God Paperback – November 3, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College
"Daniel Kirk offers readers a fascinating and fresh investigation into the heart of Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome. Kirk rightly underscores the centrality of resurrection in Paul's thought, showing how all of the major doctrines of this important letter grow out of that single greatest saving event, an event that cast all things in a new light. Veteran interpreters of Paul as well as readers new to the great apostle to the Gentiles will find this book very stimulating and rewarding."

Rikk E. Watts, Regent College
"In a bold and stimulating thesis Kirk shows how Jesus' resurrection, so central to Paul's conversion, lies at the heart of Romans. Since through it God has justified both himself and his faithful Christ, thereby showing Jesus to be the goal of the law, then participation in that salvation comes, for Jew and Gentile alike, not through the law but solely through faith in the resurrected Son of God. Highly commended."

Richard B. Hays, Duke Divinity School
"In this book Daniel Kirk makes a fresh and important contribution to the study of Pauline theology by highlighting the significance of resurrection in the letter to the Romans. At the same time, he clarifies Paul's teaching about resurrection in the context of various Jewish apocalyptic expectations. Oddly, while debate has swirled about Paul's view of the law and his doctrine of justification, interpreters have paid curiously little attention to the key role of resurrection in the argument of Romans. Kirk's study skillfully makes a previously overlooked theme appear self-evident, thereby offering a new angle of vision on the letter. Many readers will come to the end of this book saying, 'Yes, of course; why didn't we see that before?' Unlocking Romans will be a valuable resource for all who teach or preach on this text."

"This is a fresh, lucidly argued examination of a letter that has shaped the church in profound ways. By putting the central claim of the Christian tradition, Jesus' resurrection, front and center for understanding how Paul argues in Romans, Kirk has done the church and the academy a great service."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (November 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080286290X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802862907
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,266,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is refreshing that Kirk's rereading of Romans is not based on ideological criticism, so popular nowadays, but rather on a close reading of the text. Analyzing Romans through the lens of a theme found in every major section of the text he identifies what he sees as the "hermeneutical key" to the book - the resurrection of Jesus. So, his thesis reads, "In Romans, the resurrection of Jesus becomes Paul's key for demonstrating that the promises contained in the Scriptures have been fulfilled in the Christ event." Thus, "Resurrection is the most pervasive theme of the letter and it functions throughout as a hermeneutical key for reinterpreting the Scriptures and stories of Israel" (8).

Reading resurrection as the key to Romans addresses three major concerns of the letter. First, Kirk contends that it is because of the resurrection that Paul can read scripture the way he does. It has long been recognized that Paul's use of the OT is especially pervasive in Romans and, in Kirk's view; it is the resurrection that provides the lens through which Paul is reading the OT. Second, it is because of the resurrection that Paul can contend Gentiles are now included among the people of God. Third, Kirk wants to read Romans as concerned with theodicy. How can God be faithful to his covenant if the majority of Israel does not believe? Kirk, suggests, "Resurrection simultaneously provides the means for vindicating humanity and for vindicating God" (11). It is in resurrection that God can vindicate the righteous and thereby vindicate himself as just. Kirk's argument about resurrection, then, provides the key to Paul's hermeneutic, Gentile mission, and theodicy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unlocking Romans shifts from the standard theme of righteousness and views it through the lens of resurrection...Christ's, and humankind's. Resurrection becomes the leitmotiv of Romans. In answering the question of how far the fatherhood of Abraham may extend, "The resurrection functions as Paul's hermeneutical key for reinterpreting the identity of the people of God" (83). Although Professor Kirk travels through the epistle, this is not a commentary but a critical analysis and a fresh perspective. Romans also serves as Paul's "theodicy project" in which God is vindicated as faithful to His promises to Israel. A must-read for those wishing to understand Paul and (what many consider) his most important epistle.
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Format: Paperback
Daniel Kirk's 'unlocking Romans' dovetails well with a new understanding of Paul after Ed Sanders' insight that Judaism was a grace-based faith and not a works -righteousness religion as popularly conceived.

He picks up 'the resurrection of Christ' from the introductory (1:1-7) and concluding words (15:4) of Romans as the key to tracing out the message of Paul here, which was laid out as a defense of the faithfulness of God in the face of what appears to be a failed salvation project through Israel.

Jesus basically is God's answer to that charge. Jesus' resurrection is a cosmic game changer that unleashes several seismic shifts all at once : 1) the old dominion of sin and death is broken off and the new life under the lordship of Christ is now in force. 2) The Spirit empowers obedience to God that was never possible before for sin-infected humanity. 2) A new people of God emerges through their faith and union/participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, rendering all former dividing lines (old temporary protective/identity markers such as Torah observance) obsolete.

The author builds up his case by first touching on several OT and apocryphal texts that highlight the concern for theodicy in the face of Israel's long exile and defeat and the allusions to a resurrected people by way of vindication.

Jesus' resurrection is therefore understood by Paul as a powerful fulfillment of these prophetic texts.
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