Monday, April 29, 2013

Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 10 of 14)

(pp. 24-26)

   It's wonderful to take Christ, as Moo does, as the "theological starting point" of Romans.  His twofold reason is not only the content of Romans, including the beginning verses, but also the fact that the Roman Christians could start there too.  This is actually more helpful than a jaded reader might initially think.  What if a commentator had taken "Existence" as a starting point?
   Similarly, it's helpful to take "salvation history" as a framework for what Paul says in Romans, what Moo does.  In a little, after reminding us of the possible vagueness of words like the "center" of Paul's theology, and even the word "theme," as assumptive without reason of only one theme, he'll get to his candidate.
   The many far-reaching theological statements on p. 26 sound like conclusions to be considered after reading the letter, and so, with Cranfield's proper warning we noticed earlier, I think they should be just "duly noted" for now.

Romans 1:16-17 timeframe

Romans 1:16-17 is for April 25 - May 5 (- p. 90 in the Moo commentary on Romans).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 9 of 14)

(pp. 22-23)

   The Muratorian canon on Romans, in saying "[Paul] wrote at greater depth [than in Corinthians or Galatians], concerning the plan of the Scriptures, showing at the same time that their foundation is Christ," (p. 22), warms right up to the theme of Romans.

   Only second best is Moo's summary of Romans themes: "the continuity of God's plan of salvation, the sin and need of human beings, God's provision for our sin problem in Christ, the means to a life of holiness, and security in the face of suffering and death."  Second best, I think, because to be all up-to-speed on all these themes, without Christ Himself, would be the worst thing, like gaining the whole world, and forfeiting oneself.  Conversely, having Christ Himself, all these things have or will be given to us, in God's time.

Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 8 of 14)

(pp. 19-21)

   One of the benefits of these pages in which the author discusses theories of why Paul wrote Romans to the Romans, besides the fact that we get all these references to the authors who have said this and that, is the carefulness with which the author deals with others' positions.

   He's "walking on eggshells" here, trying to appeal to readers of his commentary who as scholars are aware of the need to consider what others say.  So here, professor Moo is gently showing us that positions that discount Paul's theological reasons (do they all seem to derive from the F.C. Baur writing?) are "going too far."  The last sentence on p. 21 is the best: "The legitimate desire to pin down as precisely as possible the historical background and purpose of the letter should not obscure the degree to which Romans deals with theological issues raised by the nature of God's revelation itself" (pp. 21-22).

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Romans 1:8-15 timeframe

Romans 1:8-15 is for April 21-25 (- p. 65 in the Moo commentary on Romans).

Monday, April 15, 2013

Romans 1:1-7 timeframe

Romans 1:1-7 is for April 15 - 21 (- p. 55 in the Moo commentary on Romans).

Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 7 of 14)

(pp. 16-18)

   One thing that is hidden by comparing the use of older names such as Melancthon's to newer names such as F.C. Baur's (not that new!), and to times such as "the last three decades" is the ad novum fallacy.  There are many today who view Romans as Melancthon did, and and many then who viewed Romans as F.C. Baur and many in the last thirty years have.

   But commentators have to keep abreast of research, and Moo doesn't, after all, directly advocate a view that restricts the meaning of Romans to a particular time.

   However, doesn't it seem from Romans 1 that we already have the purpose of Paul in writing to the Romans?  "I long to see you, in order that I might impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established, " etc.  Is that not a sufficient reason to write to them?  It may not be a polemic-theological thing, but it's certainly enough.

Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 6 of 14)

(pp. 14-15)

   Cranfield in the first few pages of his introduction to his commentary on Romans cautions against making conclusions for the reader, before the reader has gone through the book with him.  The caution is well-taken, and here we should read our author with a grain of salt, remembering that he has gone through his research, and is ever-so-tempted by thrill of discovery perhaps, to blurt things out.  "The relationship between Jew and Gentile, law and gospel" indeed!

   What else, besides adding to this list, or taking away from it, and substituting other things to it, can a comment on the nature of the book do?  Well, it depends on what the book is about.  Is Romans about ... concepts?  The relationship between Jew and Gentile, and the relationship between law and gospel are, both ... concepts!

   To the extent that we think we're going to be dealing with concepts alone, we forget our personal God. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 5 of 14)

(pp. 11-13)

   If adducing the audience depends only on the meaning of specific portions of the text of Romans that addresses the audience directly, a whole class of evidence based on content is ignored.

   For example, some weight should be given, in Romans 1, besides vv.5-6 which are discussed, to "holy Scriptures" and "prophets" in 1:2, which are not discussed.  The most natural understanding of these two references in 1:2 is that Paul is speaking to people who know both what these things are, and that they are sources of God's announcements beforehand.  If he we speaking to the minority portion of his audience, would he have opened with these assertions, which are stated as if already accepted?


Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 4 of 14)

(pp. 9-10)

   To read this section for the first time is like listening to discussion about an issue that must be important for some otherwise unknown reason to us readers.   What is the importance behind just exactly the proportion of Gentile converts to Jewish converts in Rome?  It's one of those issues that somebody, some people, are making much of, elsewhere, and the author is painstakingly keeping us out of that discussion, knowing that the audience includes some heavy investors in one or other of the possible conclusions.

   This happens quite a bit, doesn't it?  There is a natural variety in the language of address to subgroups, in a group letter.  To call such things "paradox" and "mixed signals" is the classic mountain of Mishnah on the beanhill of Torah.

Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 3 of 14)

(pp. 6-8)

   The prior difficulty in approaching a discussion of the manuscript differences in the form of Romans 14-16 should be stated explicitly, because the author doesn't mention it explicitly.  The various textual evidence being looked at all has different estimates as to their dates!

   Moreover, the evidence for a different form to the ending of Romans is discussed by combining the evidence of the Latin translations and the original Greek.  It should be made explicit why Latin translations should enter into the discussion.  Latin translations are proper evidence simply because the subject is the form, not the meaning of the words.  A Latin translation is a witness to whether the chapters or passages are there in what it is translating from, nothing more, in this case.


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 2 of 14)

(pp. 4-5)

   It is impossible not to notice how well this introductory material is divided between text and footnote.  If we want to look up the exact sources for various primary data, whether Suetonius or Philo, we can see that the writer has found them and documented them for us.  How important is the make up, percentage-wise, of those to whom Paul writes Romans, between Jews and Gentiles? 

   From the letter itself, with its detailed Scriptural argument and quotation, the recipients of the letter could hardly have been unaware of the authoritative Old Testament from which Paul quotes so much.  The detailed timing arguments in chapter 4 of his letter, not to mention the classic one-of-a-kind marker of Jewish piety, their own Scriptures being their own best critic, makes Paul's remarks in Romans 2 and 9-11 earmarked for his fellow Jews.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Romans with Douglas Moo's commentary, Introduction (day 1 of 14)

(pp. 1-3)
   Let's discuss Romans, and Moo together (his 1996 commentary on Romans)

   The introduction mentions what Romans has meant to Luther, and Draxe:  gospel for Luther, saving doctrine for Draxe, and for Moo, first of all, something written out of specific context.  Does our idea of Romans correspond more closely to any of these three than the other?

   The third approach is the author's cautionary safeguard against taking Romans as "a systematic theology."   What is this meant to exclude? We see that the author believes that Romans has "a message," and that it, the message, is "timeless." Is the caution against taking the assertions of Romans, directly, without forming them into a message? It is very common to take plain assertions of a Bible text as absolutes, instead of as out of a specific context.   It is also very common to disallow the plain assertions of a Bible text, and take a formulated "message" as absolute.  In doing that kind of thing, there's often a selectivity factor applied, where someone takes a set of verses X as their plain assertions, and another set of verses Y as needing to be understood in their context producing a "message" Z.  Then, that "message" is then combined with X, usually to overrule it.  A different person combines and selects differently.

   Paul's situation leads the author to say that Paul is writing at a time when he is hoping to heal the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the early church.  He bases this idea (p. 3) on Romans 15:31 (p. 2). 


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