Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Banish Romans?

So, I have this (nasty? beautiful?) habit of waking up in the middle of the night with a million questions running through my mind. Usually they concern what I’m currently working on, but this morning was different. I’ve taken to reading “Monster Jewett”, you know, that mammoth commentary on Romans that took 25 years to research and write [and will probably take me almost as long to read, comprehend, digest and then respond to]. It’s really taking its toll on my intellectual abilities. I’ve read through his summary in The Cambridge Companion to Paul, I’ve followed his prĂ©cis of the argument in The Romans Debate, and now I’m trying to read the actual commentary. SHA!
If Jewett is right, then most Roman’s commentaries have completely missed the point of Romans. But then again, is this not true for Cranfield, Dunn, and perhaps Wright as well? Which leads me to my point. If Romans is so plagued by the history of interpretation, and the “ugly ditch” that separates us from them, then would it not be helpful to ban all commentaries on Romans for the next hundred years and bury all those written already for the next two hundred years? At least this way, the next generation of scholars could start afresh, with fewer distractions.
Or perhaps, Romans should be left last to study. Romans was my first NT letter we worked through at college. I think I got an “A”. What a joke. I have no idea what Romans is about, what it’s trying to do, and how it’s trying to do it. I think the only clues I do have, is that it was written to various house and tenement churches, beset with racial strife and cultural barriers, explaining the MASSIVE and EXPLOSIVE implications of the gospel for the purpose of gaining a united apostolic base for the mission in Spain. Other than that, ask Jewett, Dunn, Wright, or perhaps Longenecker since he will be the next significant victim to fall prey to the allure and seduction of Romans.
Me, I’ll stick with 1 Peter for now. Romans can be avoided for at least a little while longer.

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