If you were given the opportunity, by a respected publisher, to write a commentary on Romans, how long do you think (-- for how many pages, say -- ) you would be able to marshal your enthusiasm to tell us what you think the whole thing means, and go step-by-step, not saying anything but what you could adequately support? In this and the previous section, and in this one especially, Moo reveals what he thinks the whole ball of wax is about in Romans. A professor who is sensitive to issues of not going beyond what can be supported would probably tell us to skip these pages until we're done, and then see if the commentary has done what it takes to support these conclusions.
Then again, the editor has (p. vii) already told us that our author has "theological sympathies." Our author has given us a context for his dialog, his twelve commentators, nine in English, (pp. xx - xxiii) that there will be extensive dialog with. There's no real reason to be upset at the early statement of these conclusions, and we should really be only concerned about ourselves, that we will be tempted to adopt or reject them simply because at this early stage we might have an a priori liking for them (or disliking of them). So let Moo tell us what he thinks, and let us be the ones that show no prejudice for what he says or against what he says, both.
On p. 29, Moo says that "the theme of the letter is the gospel. And the message of the gospel is that God brings guilty sinners into relationship with himself and destines them to eternal life when they believe in his son, Jesus the Messiah."
Moo asks us not to impose categories onto an outline of Romans, like justification and sanctification. What is interesting is that the categories offered by Moo instead, the "two age presentation" (p. 32) is also a categorization.
Let's not balk too much, since the author hasn't made many assertions that must be derived from this. Let's go on and see how the two age presentation actually presents Romans. Does it cover it adequately, and do the parts of the presentation each make sense internally ? Does each one relate to the theme stated, the gospel of God?
These are questions for the future. However, I think we should always urge one another to postpone our opinions about an author's conclusions, when we're less than 4% along in a course of study. Good to hear them!
Things to pay special attention to, up to this point: the place of Romans 5 in the division of subject (p. 32); how much the subject of justification covers, thematically, in the letter (p. 28); the difference between "center" (p. 28), "starting point" (p. 25), and "theme" (p. 30).
When discussing "theme," what are the alternatives? He gives three main ones: "the relationship of Jews and Gentiles" (p. 27); "justification by faith" (p. 28); and his own choice, "the gospel." if we chose "the relationship of Jews and Gentiles" (p. 27), then how would the individual fit in? If we chose "justification by faith," (p. 29) then how would chs. 5-15 best fit in? In choosing "the gospel" as the theme (p. 29), he believes that the others are elaborations of that theme (p. 30).
We should also be careful of what the author places before us indirectly: the consideration that some themes may be "fruits, implications, or requirements" of others (p. 29). In reading the rest of p. 29, we should recognize how eloquently Moo speaks of his subject, even though it is strictly speaking, the espousing of his conclusions.
As predicted, we're almost ready to actually look at the first verse of Romans now! After presenting a short outline, Moo goes on to Romans 1:1.
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- Moo Commentary on Romans (p. 67)
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