Fitzmyer's Anchor Bible Commentary on Romans Advice

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stu | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, May 10 2015 9:43 PM

Hello all, 

This is a question for all those who are familiar with Fitzmyer's Romans commentary. I am intrigued by the May discount on Fitzmyer's Romans commentary because I am doing a study on Romans. I was planning on adding  Cranfield's two volumes on Romans to my collection, but I thought it might be worth getting Fitzmyer's commentary at the discounted price and wait on Cranfield a bit longer. 

My question is for all those who have used Fitzmyer's commentary on Romans; Is it worth grabbing now and waiting a bit longer on Cranfield? I already have Dunn's two volume WBC set and Jewett's commentary in Hermeneia, so I am wondering if Fitzmyer's commentary would add anything valuable to the mix, or if I should skip it and move on to Cranfield's commentary. I am familiar with Cranfield's commentary on Romans and have Fitzmyer's two volume commentary on Luke, but I have not yet read Fitzmyer's commentary on Romans. Any advice is appreciated. 

-Stu

Posts 1395
James Taylor | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 10 2015 10:09 PM

Here's a little sample from the Introduction and another from the commentary section. Hope it helps you make a decision.


INTRODUCTION


I. ROME AND ROMAN CHRISTIANS


The Letter to the Romans is addressed to the Christians of the capital of the Roman Empire at the time of its composition. Along with Alexandria in Egypt, Corinth in Greece, and Antioch on the Orontes in Syria, Rome was one of the most important cities of the Mediterranean world in the first century A.D. As the capital of the empire, it dominated the eastern Mediterranean area, where Christianity found its matrix. To it Christianity itself was eventually attracted.
Rome was originally a shepherds’ village, founded as an offshoot of Alba Longa. In time it surpassed its neighboring tribes because of its geographical position in central Italy, near the sea and in command of the ford of the Tiber River.
Tradition has it that Rome was founded by descendants of Aeneas, Romulus and Remus (at varying dates, but principally in 753 B.C.). By the beginning of the sixth century different shepherd settlements on various hills had coalesced to form one town. Ruled at first by kings (Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquinius Superbus), it became a republic about 510 B.C., governed by two magistrates called consuls elected each year. By 275 B.C. Rome had gained control of all Italy. During the rest of the third century Rome waged war on Carthage and gradually acquired provinces (Sicily, in 241; Sardinia, 238; Spain, 206). During the next century it began to intervene more in areas of the Mediterranean. Provinces of Spain were reorganized in 197 B.C. In the east, Macedonia became a Roman province in 148 B.C., and the Aegean Confederacy was suppressed with the conquest of old Corinth under Lucius Mummius Achaicus in 146 B.C. Corinth too then became a province. Class struggle and slave wars (135–132, 103–101) marred Rome’s subsequent history. Eventually a dictatorship was set up by Marius (107–100), who held repeated consulships, and a reaction to it was stirred up under Sulla, who marched against Rome at the head of Roman legions (88–79). In time (60 B.C.) Rome came to be governed by a triumvirate of generals, Pompey, Crassus, and Julius Caesar. Pompey had conquered the eastern Mediterranean area, subduing Jerusalem and the land of the Jews in 63 B.C. and making it part of the reorganized province of Syria. The triumvirate eventually broke up, and Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C. After his death C. Octavius (later called Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus) and Mark Antony vied for power. The latter was defeated in the battle of Actium in September 31 B.C. Then Octavian became the sole master of the Roman world. In 27 B.C. the Roman Senate conferred on him the title Augustus (Sebastos, “the Venerable”), and he ruled as Princeps (actually as a disguised constitutional monarch or benign dictator) until his death in A.D. 14. He was succeeded by Tiberius Caesar (14–37), Gaius Caligula (37–41), Claudius (41–54), and Nero (54–68), emperors of the Julio-Claudian line.
Under Princeps Augustus Roman society was greatly improved. Augustus put an end to civil strife at Rome and in the provinces. Of this he boasted in Res gestae divi Augusti §3 (NTB §1, lines 12–45). Throughout the empire Pax Augusta, “the Peace of Augustus,” reigned, the era of peace. During Augustus’s principate the Roman Senate decreed three times that the doors of the Shrine of Janus, which usually stood open in time of war, be closed. The army was reformed and made the protector of the people. In the Campus Martius, the Senate ordered the construction of an altar, Ara Pacis Augustae, dedicated to the goddess Peace, which still stands to this day (in restored condition). Augustus saw to the building of the forum named after him, Forum Augusti. He set up vigiles, “guards,” to prevent fire and instituted urban cohorts as a police force. With friends, benefactors, and supporters like the wealthy Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Gaius Maecenas, Augustus sponsored arts and letters. During his reign wrote Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro, 79–19 B.C.), Horace (65–8 B.C.), Propertius (ca. 47 B.C.–ca. A.D. 2), and Livy (ca. 64 B.C.–A.D. 12), the great writers of the Golden Age of Latin literature. Thus Augustus sought to create a new populus romanus, “People of Rome,” promoters of civilization at home and throughout the inhabited world.
Augustus’s achievements were in large part continued by his successors in the Julio-Claudian dynasty, especially under Claudius. Augustus’s constructive work survived even the disaster toward the end of Nero’s reign, when half of Rome burned in 64 and revolt marred the peace of the empire.
As Paul wrote his letter to the Christians of Rome, Nero Claudius Caesar was the emperor (54–68). At that time Nero was basking in what a later historian of the fourth century referred to as Neronis quinquennium, “the five-year period of Nero” (Aurelius Victor, Caesares 5, epit. 12; cf. Lucan, 1.33), the best period of the empire since the death of Augustus. For Nero had not yet become the ambitious and murderous tyrant that he was known to be in the latter years of his rule (from about A.D. 60 on).
Rome, as the capital of the empire, attracted like a magnet large foreign colonies from the provinces of the Mediterranean area. The columbaria of the imperial period of Rome reveal that many persons with foreign names, both slaves and freed, had lived and were buried there. Foreign cults too were brought there: that of Mithras (as early as the reign of Tiberius), of Isis and Osiris, of Dea Syria (whom Nero himself revered), of Judaism, and of Christianity.
It is not known when Jews first came to Rome. Judas Maccabee is said to have sent envoys to Rome about 160 B.C. to “establish an alliance and peace” with the Romans (1 Macc 8:17–22), to which the Roman Senate agreed, acknowledging “the nation of the Jews” (8:25); compare 2 Macc 11:37. The implication seems to be that Jews were moving between Rome and Jerusalem at this date, and that some were already resident there. The earliest reference to Jews in Rome in a Roman writer seems to be associated with the Roman praetor peregrinus, Gnaeus Cornelius Hispalus, who in 139 B.C. “forced the Jews, who tried to contaminate Roman customs with the cult of Jupiter Sabazius, to return to their own homes” (see Valerius Maximus, Facta et dicta memorabilia 1.3.3; cf. Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, §147b). The reference is probably to Jewish merchants and sojourners accused of proselytism, but whether there was really a connection between Jews and Sabazius is quite debatable; see Lane, “Sabazius.” In general, Romans tended to misunderstand the Jews, who were often lumped together with Chaldei and other Asiatics, who were also expelled.
By the first century B.C. Rome possessed a large Jewish community. The number of Jews in Rome has been estimated to have been about fifty thousand, grouped in several synagogues. Many of them had been brought to Rome as slaves by Pompey after his conquests in the east, especially after 63 B.C., when he stormed Jerusalem. Allusions to this enslavement may be found in Pss. Sol. 2:6; 17:13–14; cf. Philo, Leg. ad Gai. 23 §155. Josephus tells how Pompey took to Rome a member of the Herodian family, “Aristobulus in chains, together with his family” (Ant. 14.4.5 §79; J.W. 1.7.7 §157). Others would have been merchants who came on business trips and eventually established themselves there. Delegations of Jews from Palestine came to Rome on occasion (J.W. 2.6.1 §80; 2.7.3 §111; 2.12.6 §§243–44).
In 59 B.C. Cicero defended Lucius Valerius Flaccus, whose administration of the Roman province of Asia (62–61) had been marked by profligacy and who, in light of an old senatorial decree renewed as late as 63 B.C., had forbidden the Jews of that province to send gold to Jerusalem. In his defense Cicero used anti-Jewish prejudice to support his client: “You know how large a troop they are, how they stick together, how influential they are in political assemblies.… for there are plenty of people to stir them up against me and against every good citizen” (Or. pro Flacco 28.66–67); and he refers there to the Jews’ barbara superstitio, “barbarian superstition.” Compare Horace, Satires 1.4.142–43, who alludes to their known custom of Jewish proselytizing (cf. 1.5.100; 1.9.67–72).
Later Josephus records a letter sent by Julius Caesar to the magistrates, council, and people of Parium about the Jews, in which he notes that “even in Rome Jews were not forbidden” to assemble or live according to their religious customs (Ant. 14.10.8 §§214–15). Suetonius records that among the crowd of foreigners who mourned at Caesar’s pyre there were “above all the Jews, who even flocked to the place for several successive nights” (Iulii vita 84.5). Philo too tells how in the time of Augustus, who supported them, Jews occupied and inhabited “the great section of Rome across the Tiber,” and that “most of them were emancipated Roman (citizens)” (Leg. ad Gai. 23 §§155–56). He also tells of their “houses of prayer” (proseuchai), their celebration of the Sabbath, their training “in their ancestral philosophy,” and their collections for sacrifices to be offered in Jerusalem. Josephus (Ant. 17.11.1 §300) tells of “more than eight thousand of the Jews in Rome” gathering to support the delegation of fifty Jews who were sent by Judean Jews to Caesar Augustus to complain about Archelaus’s autocratic ways (including the summary dismissal of high priests) and to seek autonomy.
Josephus also mentions how the emperor Tiberius in the year A.D. 19 “ordered the entire Jewish community to depart from Rome, and how the consuls conscripted four thousand of these Jews for military service, sending them to the island of Sardinia” (Ant. 18.3.5 §§83–84). See also Cassius Dio, Roman History 57.18.5a; Tacitus, Annals 2.85.4; Suetonius, Tiberii vita 36; Juvenal, Satires 3.10, 62–63; 6.542–47; 14.96–104. This expulsion of Jews did not, however, decimate their numbers there, because the Herodian family maintained contacts with the imperial household (Ant. 18.6.6 §§179–94).
Moreover, from thousands of funerary inscriptions in the catacombs of Rome we learn about the Jewish population there and its groupings into thirteen synagogues (see CII 1.lvi–ci and §§1–532; Frey, “Le Judaïsme”; Leon, The Jews of Rome, 135–66; Penna, “Les Juifs,” 328–30). On these inscriptions the word synagōgē denotes not a building, but a grouping of Jews or a “congregation”; the place where they gathered for prayer was called proseuchē (CII 1.682–84). The synagōgai were often named after patrons or protectors: Synagogue of the Agrippesians, Augustesians, Bernaclesians, Calcaresians, Campesians, Elaea, Hebrews, Herodians (or Rhodians), Sekenians, Siburesians, Tripolitans, Volumnesians, and the Arca Libanou.
From such sources we also learn that the Jewish community in Rome was organized; a synagōgē was governed by a gerousia, “council of elders,” presided over by a gerousiarchēs. These were the archontes of the community; there was also a phrontistēs, “administrator” of the community’s material goods and supervisor of the dole. Among them were also hiereis, “priests,” but that was probably a title of honor for members of priestly families, since there was no temple.
After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, many Jews were taken prisoner, and the bulk of them were brought to Rome as slaves. Josephus (J.W. 6.9.3 §§420–21) records that ninety-seven thousand prisoners were taken by the Romans, even though they were not all Jerusalem Jews.
Especially in the first century A.D. many Roman writers deprecatingly describe the mode of life lived by the Jews of Rome; they displayed much hostility to the Jews; see Wiefel, “Jewish Community,” 94–101. Cassius Dio (Roman History 37.17.1) reports that “this class [Jews] exists even among the Romans and, though often repressed, has increased to a very great degree.”
The Jews of Rome preserved strong links with those of Jerusalem. Marcus Julius Agrippa, who is called “Herod” in Acts 12:1, 6, 21, 23, had lived in Rome at the emperor’s court. He enjoyed good relations with the emperor and his court, in particular with Caligula and Claudius, and was eventually made “king” of the tetrarchies of Philip and of Herod Agrippa I by Caligula. Trade between Rome and the east is exemplified in the travels of Prisca and Aquila (see 16:3); and Acts 28:21 suggests that news of Judean Jews traveled to Rome as well as elsewhere. Roman Jews, like others, paid the tax for the Jerusalem Temple and went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Philo, Leg. ad Gai. 23 §156). Events among the Jewish people of Palestine were certainly known to the Jews of Rome, and what ensued on the death of Herod the Great certainly affected the Jews of Rome as well.
In Acts 2:10 Luke lists among the “Jews and proselytes” gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Assembly (or Pentecost [see the NOTE on 15:24]) “Roman sojourners” (pace Brown [Antioch, 104 n. 215], epidēmountes does not mean “residents” [of Jerusalem]; they were rather pilgrim “sojourners”). Acts 6:9 also knows of a “Synagogue of the Freedmen” (Libertinōn), that is, of liberti, Jewish slaves who had managed to gain their freedom in the Roman world (see Sanday and Headlam, Romans, xxviii). These freedmen could actually have come from anywhere in the Roman Empire, but many of them might well have been descendants of Jerusalem Jews taken to Rome by Pompey as prisoners of war in 63 B.C., who came to form a great part of the Jewish population there. In the rabbinic writings of later date there is mention of rabbis who visited Rome: Gamaliel, Eleazar ben Azariah, Joshua ben Hananiah, and Aqiba ben Joseph (m. ʿErub. 4:1; m. ʿAbod. Zar. 4:7; Maʿaś. Š. 5:9; Šabb. 16:8).
If some of the Roman sojourners in Jerusalem were among the three thousand Jews converted to Christianity according to the Lucan account (Acts 2:10–11, 41), they may have formed the nucleus of the Christian community in Rome on their return there. Thus the Roman Christian community would have had its matrix in the Jewish community, possibly as early as the 30s, and thus was made up at first of Jewish Christians and God-fearing Gentiles (or even of prosēlytoi, Acts 2:11, also mentioned in Roman Jewish funerary inscriptions), who had associated themselves with Jews of Rome.
The Letter to the Romans itself is actually the earliest document that attests the existence of the Roman Christian community, which Paul knows to have been in existence “for many years” (15:23).
Much later, Eusebius tells of Peter arriving in Rome on the heels of Simon Magus to preach the gospel there in the second year of Claudius (A.D. 42; Historia Ecclesiastica 2.14.6; cf. 2.17.1; Chronicon 261F [GCS 7.179]; cf. Jerome, De viris illustribus 1 [PL 23.638]; Orosius, Historiae adversus paganas 7.6 [CSEL 5.446]). The Catalogus Liberianus, dating from A.D. 354, also speaks of Peter as the founder of the Roman church, having exercised an episcopate of twenty-five years. This is undoubtedly part of a later legendary tradition that sought to explain where Peter went when he departed Jerusalem “for another place” (Acts 12:17). Eusebius’s notice encounters the difficulty that Paul in Gal 2:7–9 (written ca. 54) knows that Peter was still in Jerusalem for the so-called Council (dated ca. 49) and had apparently not yet left the eastern Mediterranean area; similarly Acts 15:6–7.
A more reliable tradition associated Paul with Peter as “founders” of the Roman community, not in the sense that they first brought Christian faith there, but because both of them eventually worked there and suffered martyrdom there (or in its immediate environs), and because their mortal remains were in the possession of the Roman church (see Ignatius, Rom. 4.3; Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3.1.1, 3.3.2 [SC 211.22–23, 32–33]).
In any case, Paul never hints in Romans that he knows that Peter has worked in Rome or founded the Christian church there before his planned visit (cf. 15:20–23). If he refers indirectly to Peter as among the “superfine apostles” who worked in Corinth (2 Cor 11:4–5), he says nothing like that about Rome in this letter. Hence the beginnings of the Roman Christian community remain shrouded in mystery. Compare 1 Thess 3:2–5; 1 Cor 3:5–9; and Col 1:7 and 4:12–13 for more or less clear references to founding apostles of other locales. Hence there is no reason to think that Peter spent any major portion of time in Rome before Paul wrote his letter, or that he was the founder of the Roman church or the missionary who first brought Christianity to Rome. For it seems highly unlikely that Luke, if he knew that Peter had gone to Rome and evangelized that city, would have omitted all mention of it in Acts.
Most likely the Christian community in Rome began not under any direct evangelization of the area, as it did in parts of the eastern Mediterranean, but through the presence of Jewish Christians and Gentiles associated with them who came to live there and went about ordinary tasks and secular duties. Slaves brought to Rome, merchants who came from other parts of the empire, and other individuals probably carried the Christian gospel there. Neither the Letter to the Romans nor the Acts of the Apostles alludes to any initial evangelization of Rome by a particular missionary, but Paul does send greetings to Andronicus and Junia, whom he recognizes as “my fellow countrymen” and “outstanding among the apostles” (16:7) and who may have been among such Jewish Christians who originally came from Jerusalem. The community undoubtedly also grew by the gradual immigration of Christians themselves, who traveled to the capital during the 40s via the Jewish diaspora. The situation may be paralleled in Alexandria, whither the new faith also spread; we know nothing of its evangelization by an apostle, even though a later tradition associated that with Mark the evangelist (Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica 2.16.1). Ambrosiaster tells us about Roman Christians: “It is evident then that there were Jews living in Rome … in the time of the apostles. Some of these Jews, who had come to believe (in Christ), passed on to the Romans (the tradition) that they should acknowledge Christ and keep the law.… One ought not to be angry with the Romans, but praise their faith, because without seeing any signs of miracles and without any of the apostles they came to embrace faith in Christ, though according to a Jewish rite” (ritu licet iudaico, a phrase found only in cod. K; In ep. ad Romanos, prol. 2; CSEL 81.1.5–6). Ambrosiaster speaks of the Gentile Christians of Rome, who were associated with the original Jewish converts of the Roman community.
Writing about A.D. 120, the Roman historian Suetonius, who had been the private secretary of the emperor Hadrian and wrote the lives of the Caesars, reports that the emperor Claudius Iudaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantis Roma expulit, “expelled from Rome Jews who were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus” (Claudii Vita 25.4). This sounds as though some Chrestus were a rabble-rouser or extremist who incited Jews of Rome (so Benko, “The Edict”). Yet how would a pagan Roman rabble-rouser have caused such trouble among Roman Jews as to bring about their banishment?
Chrēstos, “useful, good, valuable,” was a common Greek name of slaves and freedmen in the Roman world of the time. Chrestus was also used by Romans, both slaves and freed: for instance, P. Aelius Chrestus (A.D. 211; CIL 6.10233; 6.6390, 6402, 10046, 14756, 14757; see further the lists of names in CIL 6, fasc. 2.237, fasc. 7.5.6324–26); and among Greek-speaking people in the Roman world, Gemeinios Chrēstos (P. Grenfell, 1.49:111 [A.D. 220–21]; cf. D. Foraboschi, Onomasticum alterum papyrologicum [Milan: Istituto Editoriale Cisalpino, 1971], 342). Suetonius, then, not understanding the name Christos, “Christ” or “anointed,” seems to have confused it with the commonly used Greek name Chrēstos, which would have been pronounced at that time as Christos (by itacism, the tendency in the Greek language to pronounce various vowels and diphthongs as ī). So Suetonius’s text is understood by many modern historians today. This phenomenon was recognized by Tertullian (Apologeticus 3.5, CSEL 69.10; Ad nationes 1.3, CSEL 20.63) and Lactantius (Divine Institutions 4.7, CSEL 19.293–94). Compare Tacitus, Annales 15.44.2–4: Chrestianos … auctor nominis eius, Christus. Justin Martyr also plays on Christianoi and chrēstos (1 Apology 4.5–7, ed. G. Rauschen, FP 2.12–14). See further F. Blass, “XPHCTIANOI-XPICTIANOI,” Hermes 30 (1895): 465–70; M. J. Edwards, ZPE 85 (1991): 232–35.
Suetonius, then, would have been referring to a conflict between Jews and Jewish Christians of Rome in the late 40s; the constant disturbances would apparently have been caused by Jews who opposed those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah or Lord, and who consequently differed in their interpretation of the law and threatened thereby ethnic unity and identity. These disturbances were happening so frequently (assidue tumultuantis) that they became the reason for the imperial banishment of Jews and Jewish Christians from Rome. Among the latter would have been Prisca and Aquila, who left Italy for Corinth (Acts 18:2).
Orosius, a fifth-century Christian historian (Historiae adversus paganos 7.6.15–16 [CSEL 5.451]), who quotes Suetonius’s text, dates the expulsion in the ninth regnal year of Claudius (25 January 49 to 24 January 50). Since Orosius claims that Josephus tells us of this expulsion, whereas the Jewish historian says nothing about it, modern scholars sometimes suspect that Orosius’s information is faulty, and some are reluctant to accept his information about the dating of this event too. No one knows where Orosius got his information about the ninth regnal year. In any case, this year remains the most likely (see Jewett, Chronology, 36–38; Howard, “The Beginning,” 175–77; Lampe, Die stadtrömischen Christen, 4–8; Smallwood, The Jews, 211–16; Wiefel, “Jewish Community,” 93).
Some, however, have attempted to interpret Suetonius’s testimony as a reference to a decision made by Claudius in his first regnal year (41), reported by Cassius Dio (Roman History 60.6.6): the emperor, noting the increasing number of Jews in Rome, “did not drive them out” but ordered them “not to hold meetings” (see Leon, The Jews, 23–27; Lüdemann, Paul, 6–7, 165–71; Murphy-O’Connor, St. Paul’s Corinth, 130–40). Such an interpretation of the texts of Cassius Dio and Suetonius is, however, unconvincing, for Cassius Dio says explicitly that Claudius did not banish the Jews (i.e., at that time). Claudius may indeed have expelled Jews later on, as Suetonius affirms. Hence, as Dunn (Romans, xlix) notes, “the best solution is probably to see two actions by Claudius, in 41 and 49: the first an early palliative ruling, short-lived and limited in effect; the second more deliberate and drastic after his patience had worn out.” (Cassius Dio’s history for the year 49 exists only in epitomes and hence is of no help for that year.) See further Cambridge Ancient History 10.500–501; Borg, “New Context,” 211; Bruce, “Christianity,” 314–15; Slingerland, “Suetonius Claudius 25.4.” They are regarded as two events by Balsdon, Bammel, Frend, Graetz, Hardy, Huidekoper, Jewett, Jones, Meyer, Smallwood, and Wiefel. Moreover, one has not only to prescind from the Lucan hyperbole, “all of the Jews” (Acts 18:2), but ask how recently Aquila and Priscilla would have come from “Italy” (not specifically Rome), for it is not clear that they arrived in Corinth just prior to Paul himself early in 51. In any case, there was a sizable Jewish Christian community in Rome by the year 49.
That there were Jews in Rome prior to Paul’s writing of his letter is thus certain. That there were also Jewish Christians there is gathered from the way Paul writes in Romans. But was the Roman Christian community solely of Jewish background, made up of Jewish Christians alone? Because the main theme of Romans deals with justification by faith without the need of observing the Mosaic law and because Paul quotes so abundantly from the OT, a number of modern commentators on Romans have concluded that the Roman community was mostly, if not entirely, composed of Jewish Christians; so Baur, Fahy, Krieger, Leenhardt, Lietzmann, W. Manson, O’Neill, Renan, Ropes, Zahn, and others. The reasons put forth to sustain this thesis are of the following sort: (1) chaps. 1–11 seem to be a debate with a congregation of Jews; (2) in 2:17–3:8 (if not earlier in chap. 2), Paul turns his argument directly against a Jewish interlocutor; (3) in 3:27–31 he defends himself against Jewish objections that his teaching about justification sets the law aside; (4) in 4:1 he refers to Abraham as “our forefather according to the flesh”; (5) in chaps. 9–11, Paul seems to feel it necessary to defend his thesis about the role of Israel in salvation history; and (6) isolated verses, such as 6:16; 8:15; 9:1–5; 10:1–2; and 15:26 seem to imply Jewish Christian readers. Indeed, O’Neill (Paul’s Letter) would delete all references to Gentiles as glosses and maintain that Romans was written to Jewish Christians.
It is clear, however, that Paul writes to the Roman Christian community as mixed, yet as predominantly of Gentile background. He refers to himself as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (11:13) and addresses his readers as “Gentiles.” In his opening paragraphs he includes the Roman Christians among “the other Gentiles” (1:13; cf. 1:5–6; 15:15–16). In 9:3–4; 10:1–2; and 11:23, 28, and 31 Paul speaks to non-Jewish Christian readers about his own people. In 6:17–22 Paul recalls to the readers their former sinful lives as heathens; also 12:1–2 implies a Gentile background of the Roman Christian readers. His statements about “the Jew first, but also the Greek” (1:16; 2:9) show that he is thinking of a mixed community; he seems to view the “weak” of chaps. 14–15 as Jewish Christians (see NOTES on 14:14, 20). Pace Munck (Paul and the Salvation of Mankind, 200), Paul does not write to the Roman church as “purely Gentile Christian” (a view that Munck may modify in Christ & Israel, 5). It is hardly likely that Christianity reached Rome through Gentile missionaries from either Antioch or Jerusalem, pace Stuhlmacher (“Purpose,” 238). More likely, Jewish Christians, such as Andronicus and Junia, first brought the faith there.
Part of the problem in trying to determine the Christian community to which Paul addresses his letter is that he writes to it with a certain ignorance. He has not founded that church or evangelized the Romans. What little he knows about that community and its problems has undoubtedly come to him by hearsay, such as the problem of the “weak” and the “strong” (14:1–15:13). The best explanation of that distinction is that the “weak” refers to Christians of a Jewish background, and the “strong” to Christians of a Gentile background, who had been influenced at one time by Jews. Hence, as Paul writes, the Roman church was a mixed community, partly of Jewish, but predominantly of Gentile background.
Roman Christians seem to have been in continual contact with the Christians of Jerusalem, and Christianity there seems to have been shaped by that of Jerusalem, as Brown has maintained (Antioch, 110). It seems to have been influenced especially by those associated with Peter and James of Jerusalem, in other words, by Christians who retained some Jewish observances and remained faithful to the Jewish legal and cultic heritage without insisting on circumcision for Gentile converts. Such Jewish Christians in Rome would have associated with themselves people of Gentile background, those who were called “Godfearers.” This relation would have characterized the Christian community until the time of the banishment of “Jews” from Rome by Claudius. On their return to Rome these Jewish Christians would have found a Christian situation different from what they had left; they would now be a minority in the church that they had shaped at an earlier date. They would undoubtedly have fallen under the ban of Jews themselves, who were still forbidden to assemble in collegia. This ban undoubtedly gave rise to the house churches in Rome, of which Paul is aware (16:5). In any case, Christians of Rome would have continued their contacts with Christians of Jerusalem, as the epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians suggests, in its recognition that “sacrifices are offered … only in Jerusalem” (1 Clem. 41.2), despite the earlier destruction of the Temple.
It is another question, however, whether there were in Rome judaizers of the sort that Paul had had to combat in the churches of Galatia. In writing, “Why should we not ‘do evil that good may come of it’—as some people defame us with the libelous charge that we so teach?” (3:8), Paul is hardly implying that such persons were among Roman Christians, pace Edmundson (Church in Rome, 18) and Stuhlmacher (“Purpose,” 239). That is a charge about antinomianism. It does not ring true that it stems from judaizers in Rome itself. The Pauline statement undoubtedly reflects rather some past experience of Paul. The judaizing problem had to be coped with in earlier situations, but there is no reason to think that it plagued the Roman community too. When Paul now writes to the Romans about justification by grace through faith, he is reflecting on his missionary endeavors of an earlier time. Even if some of Paul’s friends were among the Christians of Rome to whom he writes, there were undoubtedly some others who did not agree with him. But even so, this does not mean that the judaizing problem of old still persisted. It is far from certain that charges leveled against Paul in Asia Minor and Greece made their way to Rome. Even Paul’s apprehension about the reception of the collection that he will take to Jerusalem sounds much different from the tone in which he wrote Galatians, as he coped with the judaizing problem.
In writing to the Christians of Rome, Paul assumes that they are familiar with the OT, building, as he does, large parts of his argument on the Greek OT. There is, however, no real evidence that the Greek version was known outside of Jewish communities or Jewish Christian communities. The LXX was not known in Greco-Roman literary circles (see Collins, Between Athens, 4; Momigliano, Alien Wisdom, 91–92). Evidence from Jewish funerary inscriptions in Rome shows that Jews there normally used Greek as their main language, so they would have used the OT in a Greek version. Hence Paul cites the OT from the LXX. Yet even a predominantly Gentile Christian community was certainly familiar with the LXX as well as with other Jewish tenets and practices: the Decalogue, Jewish prayers used in synagogues, messianic expectations, dietary regulations, and details of the Mosaic law affecting daily life.
Luke too was aware of Christians at Rome, for he tells of hoi adelphoi, “brothers,” coming to meet Paul on his way to Rome at “the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns” (Acts 28:15). He was referring, of course, to a situation a few years later. But Luke also recounts that Jews of Rome told Paul that they “had received no letters from Judea” about him and that none of the Jewish brethren coming from there “reported or spoke anything evil about him” (Acts 28:21). Implicit in such a Lucan statement is that the Roman Jews had nonetheless heard about Paul; they were anxious to learn his views about the Christian hairesis, “which is everywhere spoken against” (28:22).
Yet the number of Roman writers who refer to Christians of Rome in the first century is not numerous. Suetonius (Claudii Vita 25) in the second century may refer to them indirectly, as we have seen. Tacitus (Annales 15.44) explicitly refers to them as those whom Nero accused of burning Rome and implies that Christianity in Rome had come from Judea:

To suppress this rumor [that he himself had caused the burning of Rome in 64], Nero created scapegoats. He punished with exquisite cruelty the notoriously depraved group whom the populace called Christians. The originator of the group, Christ, had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate. Yet, in spite of such a temporary setback, this pernicious superstition broke out again, not only in Judea, the origin of this mischief, but even in the City [Rome], whither all degraded and shameful practices collect from all over and become the vogue. First, Nero arrested self-acknowledged members of this sect. Then, on the information they supplied, large numbers [multitudo ingens] were condemned, not so much for their arson as for their hatred of the human race. Their deaths were made a farce … so that despite their guilt and the ruthless punishment they deserved, there arose pity, for it was felt that they were being sacrificed to one man’s brutality rather than to the public interest.

Tacitus thus states that there was a large number of Christians in Rome, that they were distinguished from Jews, and that even pagans related Roman Christianity to an origin in Judea. The first of these items is confirmed by 1 Clement, which speaks of Christians of Rome as “a considerable multitude” (poly plēthos, 6.1). Suetonius even refers to them as genus hominum superstitionis novae ac maleficae, “a class of human beings given to a new and mischievous superstition” (Neronis Vita 16.2).
In a recent publication, Lampe has presented all of the evidence, literary and archaeological, that bears on Christians dwelling in various parts of Rome and their social history in the first two centuries of this era (Die stadtrömischen Christen).
Tacitus (Annales 13.50–51) also reports that in the year 58, in view of repeated complaints of the people in the empire about the collecting of indirect taxes by the publicani, “publicans,” Nero wondered whether he should abolish all indirect taxation and present “the reform as the noblest of gifts to the human race.” But senators warned him of the likely consequences of such an action, the fall in imperial revenue and further demands for the abolition of other taxation. Nero, however, recognized that the tax collectors’ cupidity was extreme and had to be curbed. So he decreed that regulations for taxation were to be posted publicly and strictly enforced. At Rome the praetor and in the provinces the propraetors and proconsuls were to waive the usual order of trials in favor of actions against the publicani. Similarly, Suetonius recounts that Nero “either abolished or lowered the more oppressive taxes” (Neronis Vita 10.1). Hence Paul was probably aware of this brewing problem of taxation that also faced the Christians of Rome and included in his letter to them advice on the matter (13:6–7). See Friedrich et al., “Zur historischen Situation.”
It was, then, to the Christians of the capital of the Roman Empire that Paul sends this letter. He greets them as “all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be his dedicated people” (1:7). He thanks God for all of them, because their faith “is proclaimed in all the world” (1:8), and he is convinced that they are “full of goodness, equipped with all knowledge, and capable of admonishing one another” (15:14). When Paul was writing, those Christians were subject to Nero during his quinquennium, and Paul’s words about the duty of Christians to be submissive to governing authorities (13:1–2) would have fallen on receptive ears, because there is no reason to think that Christians of Rome would have been opposed to Nero at this time.
Finally, in this letter Paul appeals to Roman Christians for prayer and help as he prepares for his journey to Jerusalem with the collection taken up among Achaean and Macedonian Christians. He recognizes that Christianity at Rome has been shaped mainly by that of Jerusalem and Judea, especially by that associated with James and Peter, hence by a Christianity that regarded Judaism highly and was still loyal to its customs, even though Roman Christianity proved by this time to be predominantly of Gentile background.
In chap. 16 Paul refers to Roman Christians by name, some who are probably friends or personal acquaintances, others merely known to be dwelling there. Ten have Latin names; eighteen have Greek names; and two may have Hebrew names. He also knows some Christians from the households of two pagans, Aristobulus and Narcissus. Lietzmann noted from the uncommon names, which have been found in different regions of the empire, that “everyone streams to Rome” (An die Römer, 125).
Meanwhile, the Roman suspicion of Jews and Jewish superstitio continued and developed in various forms of anti-Semitism (see Quintilian, Institutio oratoria 3.7.21: iudaica superstitio, “Jewish superstition”; Seneca, quoted by Augustine, De civitate Dei 6.11, CSEL 39.298; Pliny the Elder, Natural history 31.11; Tacitus, Historiae 5.1: adversus omnes alios hostile odium, “a hostile hatred toward all others”). The accusation of superstitio spread from the Jews to the Christians.


Fitzmyer, J. A., S. J. (2008). Romans: a new translation with introduction and commentary (Vol. 33, pp. 23–36). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.


I. DOCTRINAL SECTION: GOD’S GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD (1:16–11:36)

A. Through the Gospel the Uprightness of God Is Revealed as Justifying People of Faith (1:16–4:25)


4. THEME ANNOUNCED: THE GOSPEL IS THE POWERFUL SOURCE OF SALVATION FOR ALL, DISCLOSING GOD’S UPRIGHTNESS (1:16–17)

1 16 Now I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is God’s power (unleashed) for the salvation of everyone who believes, for the Jew first but also for the Greek. 17 For in it is revealed the uprightness of God, through faith and for faith, as it stands written, the one who is upright shall find life through faith.


COMMENT

Having uttered his thanksgiving and petition and having made his preliminary statement about his plans to come to Rome, Paul begins the major topic of his letter. Although vv 16bc–17 continue the last statement of v 15 and introduce the topic that will be discussed in vv 18–32, they announce the major theme of the letter and one that will be developed until 11:36. This theme recapitulates the whole doctrinal section, which covers eleven chapters in the letter. The section may be divided into three parts: (A) 1:16–4:25; (B) 5:1–8:39; and (C) 9:1–11:36. But the theme enunciated here also acts specifically as the theme of part A; a secondary theme (for part B) will be introduced in 5:1–11. The climax of the development of this theme comes when Paul discusses how both Jews and Gentiles fit into the salvific plan that Paul is now about to sketch, how Gentile Christians become heirs to the promises made to Israel of old, and how both Jews, and Gentiles are related to the mystery of God’s redemption in Christ Jesus.
As Aletti has shown, each part of Romans has a rhetorical construction, and parts A and B especially have their own propositiones. The main propositio, however, is found in these verses (“La Présence”). The introduction has already mentioned “God’s gospel” (1:1) and Paul’s role in proclaiming it. Now Paul will explain in greater detail how that gospel concerns God’s Son and how a new, unique possibility is extended by it to all humanity to find salvation through him “established as the Son of God with power … as of his resurrection from the dead” (1:4). Although this gospel reveals God’s uprightness as he justifies people of faith (part A), it also discloses God’s love that is poured out through his Spirit and assures salvation and new life for such people (part B). Yet the gospel also manifests that this justification and salvation are available to all, Jews and Greeks alike, through faith, and so it does not contradict God’s promises to Israel of old (part C).
Paul takes pride in his role of proclaiming this gospel, as he announces the theme that will be first developed. The gospel is not just a message sent from God; it is a “power” unleashed in the world of humanity that actively accosts human beings, challenging them to accept it through faith in Christ Jesus. That “power” is not unrelated to the power of the risen Christ (1:4), which is thus proclaimed. Moreover, the gospel reveals something about the God who promised it of old (1:2) and who now acts in a new way; it reveals his “uprightness” or “righteousness” for those who accept this gospel in faith. Dikaiosynē theou is the phrase that Paul uses to sum up the theme of Romans. It delineates the divine salvific activity at work in Christ Jesus, the power that God himself has let loose in the world of human beings. As Stuhlmacher has put it, “Rom. 3:21–31 shows … that we must allow the word [the phrase dikaiosynē theou] the breadth which is inherent in it from the Old Testament: according to Paul, the one God acts in and through his one Son, Christ, on behalf of the entire world. Christ is his righteousness in person” (“Theme of Romans,” 341). Indeed, it brings new sense to the words that the prophet Habakkuk once uttered, “the one who is upright shall find life through faith” (2:4).
What should be noted in this announcement of the theme of Romans is Paul’s formulation of the effect of the Christ-event as “salvation” and not as justification, despite the fact that the main emphasis in part A will be on justification. Four further affirmations in the announced theme are noteworthy: (1) the universality of God’s salvation for all who are willing to accept it; (2) the equality of Jew and Greek in this plan of salvation, which, however, admits a priority for the Jew, both de facto (in a temporal, chronological sense) and de jure (according to Paul’s view of salvation history: this gospel was announced through Israel’s prophets, 1:2 [cf. 2:9; 9:1–11:36]); (3) this universality and equality of salvation come through the gospel, a force unleashed by God revealing his dikaiosynē and directing human history; and (4) human beings share in this salvation through faith, which can be progressively intensified in dedication to God. Striking in this announcement is the absence of any reference to Christ, the description of whose role is put off until 3:21–26.
The theme thus announced will be developed by Paul in three ways: (1) negatively, what happens to humanity without the gospel (1:18–3:20); (2) positively, in the gospel God’s uprightness is manifested through Christ to all sinners and apprehended by faith (3:21–31); and (3) by an illustration drawn from the OT: Abraham was justified by his faith, and not by his deeds (4:1–25).
Paul creates a transition from his introductory remarks by declaring his pride in the task entrusted to him of announcing God’s gospel. He thus picks up a theme that he had treated at greater length in 1 Cor 1:17–2:16: to unbelievers the gospel is foolishness. Yet such an attitude cannot deter Paul from proclaiming the gospel. He comes to the capital of the Roman world with a simple message, a message that he knows is foolishness to many.
Paul terminates his theme by quoting Hab 2:4, “the one who is upright shall find life through faith.” He thus takes from the OT a key passage that summed up the value of observance of the law for the Jew. But Paul not only quotes it; he makes it the pillar of his thesis about salvation through faith, thus wresting it from the clutches of the law. It is now made part of his gospel and becomes the motto of his view of God’s new salvific process, which does not depend on the observance of the law. The quotation from Habakkuk illustrates what Paul wrote in Gal 3:8, “Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ ” By quoting Habakkuk, Paul gives a concrete example of what he said in his introductory verses about “God’s gospel which he promised long ago through his prophets in the sacred Scriptures” (1:1–2).


NOTES

1:16. Now I am not ashamed of the gospel. Paul’s admission picks up on v 14. It may be understood both socially and psychologically: though he is coming to the capital of the Roman Empire and comes not as a founder of its Christian community or as one of the Twelve, he is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (11:13) and will proclaim the gospel that he knows is folly to some and a stumbling block to others (1 Cor 1:18, 23), a paradox and a contradiction to the society of the capital of the Roman Empire. Yet he knows that God has chosen what is foolish in the sight of the world to shame the wise (1 Cor 1:27); cf. 1 Cor 4:10. Again, “he shrinks neither from Jewish Christians who may slander him, nor from charismatics who may look down upon him” (Michel, Brief an die Römer, 86). Although Paul may suspect that some Roman Christians have been critical of the gospel that he has been preaching, as Wedderburn suggests (Reasons, 104), he does not say so. If that were the case, his words here about the gospel would then be even more significant.
Paul’s use of ouk epaischynomai, “I am not ashamed,” may instead echo an early Christian confessional formula (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 2 Tim 1:8) and be only the negative equivalent of homologein, “acknowledge, confess.” He is aware of the temptation to shame about the gospel because he realizes the hostility that it can arouse, and yet he is more than ready to proclaim it, even proud to do so in Rome. For the gospel is for him not merely a passing on of truths or a report about noteworthy events, but the word in which God’s will is presently accomplished. On “gospel,” see the NOTE on 1:1 and PAHT §§PT31–36.
Some MSS (Dc, Ψ, and the Koinē text tradition) add tou Christou, “(the gospel) of Christ.” This addition corrects the absence of mention of Christ in the announcement of the theme of Romans, but the best Greek MSS (P26, א, A, B, C, D*, E, G, etc.) omit the phrase.
God’s power. Whenever the gospel is proclaimed, God’s power becomes operative and succeeds in saving. His power thus catches up human beings and through the gospel brings them to salvation. This is the essential, all-important theme that Paul announces: salvation comes to all through faith. In 1 Cor 1:18 Paul predicated dynamis theou of “the word of the cross,” another way of expressing “the gospel,” and in 1 Cor 1:24 he applied it to Christ himself, who is in fact the content of the good news. As used here, the phrase formulates the dynamic character of God’s gospel; the word may announce the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but the emphasis is on that word as a force or power unleashed in human history. Moreover, because that gospel announces the Christ-event, its power is related to that of the risen Christ himself, “established as the Son of God with power” (1:4). Through him God has unleashed his own power. Cf. 1 Cor 2:5; 6:14; 2 Cor 13:4; Phil 3:10. God’s “power” (dynamis) is often mentioned in the OT (e.g., Deut 3:24; Josh 4:24; Jer 16:21), and the phrase dynamis theou occurs in the LXX (1 Chr 12:23, but in the sense of “an army of God”). Cf. Wis 7:25; 2 Macc 3:24, 38.
for the salvation. The phrase eis sōtērian is omitted in MS G, but is to be retained because it expresses the purpose of the gospel as God’s power. For “salvation” as an effect of the Christ-event, see Introduction, section IX.B. Paul will speak of it again in 5:9–10; 8:24; 10:9–10 (where it appears in parallelism with “justification”), 13. In 1 Thess 5:9–10 Paul made it clear that this salvation comes through “our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us so that … we might live with him.” So the eschatological destiny of the Christian is formulated in terms of salvation.
of everyone who believes. Lit., “for everyone believing” or “for every believer.” To “believe” is the response of a human being accosted by the gospel: faith in its message, faith in Christ Jesus whom it announces, and faith in God from whom it comes. To believe is to accept the gospel and through it to find life in Christ. It is the necessary, indispensable condition for salvation, pace Nygren (Romans, 68–69). No one, of course, achieves salvation without faith, which arises only because of the proclaimed gospel of God. Thus the initiative is God’s in the salvific process; yet he does not save everyone indiscriminately. Paul realizes that human beings must react to the gospel, and such reaction is a human response, the condition without which God does not save. “Faith” in some form is used by Paul four times in these two verses, thus showing the importance that he puts on it. The phrase also expresses the universal destination of the gospel, a force aimed at all humanity.
for the Jew first but also for the Greek. Paul sums up all humanity as “Jew” and “Greek.” In this sense “Greek” would include the barbarians of v 14. All, both Jews with their covenantal uprightness and Gentiles with their lack of uprightness, are accosted by the gospel of God’s uprightness; they can all react to it in faith. Paul phrases the summation this way because, though he recognizes the quality of the believing Jew and Greek vis-à-vis the gospel, expressed by the correlative te … kai, he is interested in asserting the privileged status of the Jew in God’s salvific plan (Ioudaiō prōton), a privilege that he will repeat in 2:9–10. The priority of the Jew is acknowledged not only because the gospel was first preached to the Jews, but because God promised his gospel through the prophets of old in the sacred Scriptures of the Jews (1:2), thus destining it for his chosen people, and through them for all others. That gospel announced “his Son” (1:3), whom he sent at a set time to that people, “born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Gal 4:4; cf. Rom 11:28–29). The “Greek” is brought in because Paul has already in mind the relation between Jew and Gentile that he will formulate in 11:11–12. He also insists that there is no partiality in God (2:11; cf. 3:22; 10:12), for salvation is open to all. On the name Ioudaios, see the NOTE on 2:17; on the name Hellēn, see the NOTE on 1:14.
The adv. prōton is omitted in MSS B, G, in the Sahidic version, and by Marcion, who would not have admitted the privilege of the Jews; the best Greek MSS, however, read it.


Fitzmyer, J. A., S. J. (2008). Romans: a new translation with introduction and commentary (Vol. 33, pp. 253–257). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

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Greg F | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 4:04 AM

Hi James, thanks for posting this. Could you give us an idea if the links to classical texts work correctly (ie. to Perseus texts, Josephus, etc.)? I'm also debating whether to purchase this volume.

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Don Awalt | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 4:10 AM

I can't find a Perseus link offhand, but Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus and other links (commentaries etc.) work fine:

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Damian McGrath | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 4:38 AM

It does not link to Perseus texts - or at least the few I searched for - Plutarch, Seneca, Cicero, Arsititle

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Everett Headley | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 7:12 AM

If you are looking for an opinion between the two, I would point you towards Cranfield.  I am what might be called Reformed Baptist if it helps.  

Romans continues to be an ongoing in depth study for me and I have utilized Cranfield's work in it.  I found him to have many thoughts that have spurred me on to deeper study.  Both are relatively the same age, but Cranfield doesn't read as a 20 year old commentary.

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stu | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 7:27 AM

Thanks James, Don and Everett. I appreciate the example from the commentary, James. That does help. Decisions...decisions. 

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Everett Headley | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 7:33 AM

Also, FWIW, if you are thinking of going more deeper, check out the Classic Studies in Romans Collection. I got it on prepub, but many still reference those guys. 

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mab | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 12:57 PM

Fitzmyer is a competent scholar and certainly worth reading. Just keep in mind that he is a Jesuit and reflects a Catholic viewpoint. YMMV.

I strongly recommend Moo's volume in NICNT. He has a superb grasp of Romans and carefully deals with all the other commentators.

The mind of man is the mill of God, not to grind chaff, but wheat. Thomas Manton | Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow. Richard Baxter

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 3:11 PM

mab ... I'm just curious. Your comment concerning a Catholic bias ... do you have evidence of that in Romans? Or Luke?

I'm not Catholic, but I like Fitzmyer due to his discipline and also jewish connectivities (1st century).

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

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Michael Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 7:50 PM

Everybody has an opinion, I am sure.  So here is mine.  Cranfield is gold standard on Romans in my opinion.  I would go with Cranfield, hands down.

And I am not reformed.  I am a Wesleyan Arminian who respects good scholarship in all Christian traditions.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

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stu | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 11 2015 8:02 PM

Thanks again for all of your input. Cranfield is certainly the gold standard to most. I have read a bit of his first volume and agree that he is excellent. Thank you for posting the excerpt, James. I finally got a chance to read it during lunch today and that really helped. I am leaning towards Cranfield, but I do want to see what others with experience with Fitzmyer say since it is such a good deal. 

Thanks all

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Don Awalt | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 12 2015 3:51 AM

Since you asked I'll throw in an opinion on Fitzmyer (I really like Moo to by the way) - I have read several of his books, and Denise said it well with his "Jewish connectivities". The way I would say it, I really enjoy how much contextual information he gives about what the people, cultural, society, religion, etc. at the time was experiencing and how it influences what we read about. Through Fitzmyer in part I gained a much richer background on the evolution of Christianity from Judaism. 

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stu | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 12 2015 7:00 AM

Thank you, Don. I got that from the excerpt that James posted. That does help.

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Otis Gouty | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 12 2015 7:29 AM

If you are looking at commentaries on Romans it might be worthwhile to review The most recent NICOT by Moo.

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 12 2015 7:41 AM

Otis Gouty:
The most recent NICOT by Moo

To avoid potential confusion - this would be NICNTSmile

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Otis Gouty | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 12 2015 9:10 AM

You are so right! Thanks!

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mab | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 12 2015 2:00 PM

Denise:

mab ... I'm just curious. Your comment concerning a Catholic bias ... do you have evidence of that in Romans? Or Luke?

I'm not Catholic, but I like Fitzmyer due to his discipline and also jewish connectivities (1st century).

Fitzmyer rather frankly admits his own presuppositions are Catholic in the Romans volume and it has the church permissions that nothing is contrary to their teachings. I'm on the side of your take on Fitzmyer's scholarship. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

The mind of man is the mill of God, not to grind chaff, but wheat. Thomas Manton | Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow. Richard Baxter

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 12 2015 2:35 PM

Michael Childs:

Everybody has an opinion, I am sure.  So here is mine.  Cranfield is gold standard on Romans in my opinion. 

My opinion (sorry Michael this isn't directed at you but is a general statement for which you happened to provide the best quote).

No one is the gold standard, asks all the useful questions and provides all the correct answers. If you think a single commentary can do this I have a bridge to sell you. Just my opinion, of course, but I've enough experience to have great-grandchildren.Stick out tongue

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 12 2015 6:14 PM

mab:
Fitzmyer rather frankly admits his own presuppositions are Catholic in the Romans volume and it has the church permissions that nothing is contrary to their teachings. I'm on the side of your take on Fitzmyer's scholarship. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

For future reference, and I can't say one way or another whether this applies to Fitzmyer's commentary on Romans (which looks like a good deal to me), those "church permissions" (Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, etc.) with regard to books on Sacred Scripture published in the last fifty or so years mean a heck of a lot less than you would think or I would like. Not without reason was the now-enroute-to-canonization Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen saying decades ago that  William Barclay's commentaries didn't contain anything much stranger to Catholic ears than did recent Catholic books on Scripture.

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