Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moo Commentary on Romans (pp. 65ff)

When we comment on the Bible, we're also tempted to get a comment in that comes from what we, separately, also think, or from what our friends, separately, think: what "friends," as in our theological party, think.

Try reading a commentary from a vastly different theological party than your own, and see how often you "get mad...." Or, conversely, see how great a blessing it is when a commentary, or even a sermon, gets back to the text and says what the text is saying, or even implying.

Compare this to the visceral feeling of reading a commentary that exudes your theological party's ideas at every turn, but unsupported. Like the tonic that the orcs fed the hobbits when running them in the Lord of the Rings Two Towers, it's an anti-energy energy. And it runs afoul of Mt 15:9. When you do stuff like that, as most Ph.D candidates know after their verbal examination, you will be most readily cured by various forms of humor on the part of your examiners -- especially mockery of your method.

Commenting on Rm 1:16, "I am not ashamed," and asking the question whether it is an idiom, a litotes, Moo compares it to 1 Cor 1:18 in a surprising way on p. 65. He says the foolishness described in that verse "would make some degree of embarrassment about the gospel natural". Since this is so contre temps, so against the spirit of the times, it certainly deserves to be noted. How often do you hear a Christian say, "in a way, my religion is embarrassing"! Many people would be very refreshed to hear this, instead of the hype they always expect.

And that spirit can well be applied to a first-time reader (which we should always try and remember to imitate) hearing Paul say "it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes...." Put the original hearer's ears on! "You mean to tell me that God is going to rescue people and the physical universe from all the horrors of death and decay, plus assured accountability for sins, by THAT? some piece of news? about the benefits coming from some death in the First Century, and what happened on the following Sunday?" How embarrassing!

Have you ever rescued someone, or been rescued, physically? It's embarrassing, very often, to be rescued. Rescue and embarrassment go even more well together when we're rescued from where or what we shouldn't have had to be rescued from. Then some time passes -- and we're thrilled about it.

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