Encountering Biblical Studies series

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Ted Hans | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Mar 8 2010 2:08 PM
The recent offerings on pre-pub from Baker contains an item from the Encountering Biblical Studies series. why not complete the series in another offer?   Thanks.

  1. Encountering the Book of Hebrews: An Exposition (Encountering Biblical Studies) by Donald A. Hagner
  2. Encountering the Book of Isaiah: A Historical and Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) by Bryan E. Beyer
  3. Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective (Encountering Biblical Studies) by Andreas J. Köstenberger
  4. Encountering the Book of Genesis (Encountering Biblical Studies) by Bill T. Arnold
  5. Readings from the First-Century World: Primary Sources for New Testament Study (Encountering Biblical Studies) by Walter A. Elwell and Robert W. Yarbrough
  6. Readings from the Ancient Near East: Primary Sources for Old Testament Study (Encountering Biblical Studies) by Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer

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Mark Johnson | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 8 2011 9:55 AM

I would like to have this series updated also!

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Paul N | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 8 2011 10:09 AM

Ted and/or Mark,

I noticed that the Romans volume in this series by Douglas Moo was only 240 "pages" long.  Is the series less in depth and more of an overview?  I guess I'm asking what your take is on the objective of the series and how you find it useful.  Moo has a lot to say on the subject of Romans. Wink

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Ted Hans | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 8 2011 10:18 AM

Hi Paul, I have included a portion of Romans one below for you to get a feel for Moo's contribution. Ted


  •      The Theme of Romans: What Is Romans About?
     The Gospel Regarding God’s Son (1:1–5)
     The Gospel and the Righteousness of God (1:16–17)
      Not Ashamed of the Gospel
      The Power of God for the Salvation of Everyone Who Believes
      The Righteousness of God
  •      The Purpose of Romans: Why Romans?
     Proposals Focusing on Paul’s Circumstances
     Proposals Focusing on the Roman Church
  •      The Structure of Romans: How Does Romans Unfold?


After reading this chapter, you should be able to

  1.      Identify several possibilities for the theme of Romans and point to evidence in the text in support of each view.
  2.      Know what Paul means by “the righteousness of God” and how that phrase fits into his preaching of the gospel in Romans.
  3.      Understand how the whole letter fits together as one long exposition of the gospel.
  4.      Appreciate Paul’s purposes in writing this particular letter to the first-century Roman Christians.
  5.      Apply insights from these first four points to your own reading of Romans so that you can understand better God’s purposes for us.

In the first two chapters we have surveyed some of the detailed questions surrounding the origin of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Now we are ready to put these details together into a big picture. To get all that God wants us to get out of Romans, we must read the letter as a whole. Too often we read the Bible merely in bits and pieces, and although God surely speaks to us through those bits and pieces, think how much more we could learn if we knew how they worked together as part of a larger act of communication. This is the perspective we are after in this chapter as we draw together the threads of our discussion to get a sense of what Romans as a whole is about.

The Theme of Romans: What Is Romans About?

As we saw in chapter 1, Romans has become a critical battleground in the war between a more individualist reading of Paul, inherited from the Reformation, and a more corporate reading, the dominant scholarly approach in our own day. Both perspectives, I argued, have something to teach us about Paul and about Romans. Paul is concerned to explain how God’s new work in Christ can integrate both Jews and Gentiles into one new people. Critical as this theme is in Romans, however, it is not the dominant note. That note is sounded, I suggested, in the word “gospel.” In Romans, Paul sets forth the good news of Jesus Christ. That good news is first of all a message directed to each one of us: God in Christ has made it possible to overcome the terrible and deadly power of sin and to enter into an intimate and eternal relationship with God. But the individuals who experience the power of the gospel belong to different ethnic groups—Jews and Gentiles—and Romans has a lot to say about how the gospel relates to both these groups. In this section I want to pursue the issue of the theme of Romans by looking carefully at two key passages relating to this matter in the letter’s introduction: 1:1–5 and 1:16–17. As we look at these texts, we also will have opportunity to note quickly some of the other significant themes in the letter.

The Gospel Regarding God’s Son (1:1–5)
Some of what Paul says about himself in these opening verses is typical of his letters: he calls himself a “servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle” (v. 1). But, probably because he is writing to a church he had neither founded nor visited, Paul gives details about the nature of his ministry that are unusual for his letter openings. These verses are often overlooked as readers skip over the preliminaries to get into the heart of the letter. But in these verses Paul makes five points that furnish important clues about what is to come in the letter.
First, Paul is “set apart for the gospel of God” (v. 1). Paul might be claiming that God appointed him from birth—as he did Jeremiah (Jer 1)—to serve the gospel. Or he might be thinking of his being “set apart” at the time of his vision on the road to Damascus, which was a call to ministry as well as to salvation. But in either case, I want to highlight Paul’s focus on the gospel. The word “gospel” has Old Testament roots, particularly in Isaiah, where “preaching good news” is associated with the day of salvation (see esp. Is 52:7, quoted in Rom 10:15). “Gospel” can have an active sense of proclaiming good news, or a more static nuance whereby it denotes the work of God accomplished in Christ as, in itself, the good news.
Second, this gospel was “promised beforehand through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures” (v. 2). As in the overture to an opera, Paul continues in these opening verses to introduce notes that will become recurring motifs in the letter. The gospel can be the gospel “of God” only if it stands in continuity with the revelation of that same God in the Old Testament. Paul therefore repeatedly stresses in Romans (see 3:21; chs. 4, 9–11) that God’s work in Christ for all people is exactly what he had promised from the beginning. The Old Testament and its law fit smoothly with the gospel in a single plan of God.

Model of first-century Rome. (Ben Witherington III)

Third, this gospel is about God’s son (vv. 3–4). Paul does not say much about the person of Christ in the body of Romans. Christology apparently was not an issue in the church at Rome, so Paul felt no need to address it. But we should not therefore conclude that Romans has nothing to say about Christology. Point after point in the letter assumes a certain view of Christ such as we find enunciated at length elsewhere in Paul’s writings. But we should not neglect what Paul says about Christ in these opening verses. They are governed by the introduction of Jesus as God’s Son (v. 3a). By calling Jesus God’s Son, Paul connects him with Old Testament predictions about a coming king, or messiah (see esp. 2 Sm 7:14; cf. also Ps 2:7). But the title also suggests Jesus’ unique and intimate relationship to the Father (see, e.g., Rom 5:10; 8:3, 32).
After introducing Jesus as God’s Son, Paul describes him in two roughly parallel statements (vv. 3–4):

    “as to his human nature … a descendant of David”
    “through the Spirit of holiness … declared with power to be the Son of God”

The parallelism, which is much closer in the Greek than in English translation, has been explained in two basic ways. The NIV translation, quoted above, reflects the first of these possibilities: Paul is describing two natures within Christ. As human, Jesus the Son is the Messiah, born in the line of David, to whose descendant God promised an everlasting kingdom (2 Sm 7:14). But as divine (“Spirit” or even “spirit” of holiness [cf. NIV margin]), Jesus is Son of God—a status “declared” to the world when he was resurrected from the dead. But true as this might be, the “two natures” interpretation probably is not right. “As to his human nature” is a paraphrastic rendering of a Greek phrase that literally translated is “according to the flesh” (kata sarka). The exact significance of the word “flesh” in Paul is notoriously difficult to pin down. But “flesh,” especially when contrasted with the Spirit, as here (“Spirit of holiness”), connotes the weakness of human life before and outside of Christ. Sometimes, of course, this weakness takes the form of sin (where the NIV usually will translate “sinful nature”; see, e.g., Rom 7:5). But at other times the word has a more neutral meaning, indicating rather the “purely human” dimension of life (see, e.g., Rom 8:3b). But in either case, “flesh” does not denote a “part” of the human being (“human nature”). In fact, the “flesh versus Spirit” contrast in Paul usually reflects his salvation-historical perspective (for more on this concept, see the next point). “Flesh” relates to the era before the coming of Christ, when sin reigned unopposed; “Spirit” attaches to the new era, which has dawned with the work of Christ and the pouring out of the Spirit.

    Making Contact with Readers

    A good writer or speaker always tries to make contact with the audience. He or she wants to create as much common ground as possible. Paul tries to do precisely that in Romans. Since this is a church that he has neither founded nor visited, he is anxious to do what he can to make contact with the Christians there. One way in which Paul accomplishes this is by quoting from traditions or hymns familiar to the Roman Christians. To be sure, Paul never explicitly introduces such quotations, and scholars are often divided on where we might find them. But it is a perfectly natural thing for Paul to do in his circumstances. One such piece of traditional material might be found in Romans 1:3–4. As we noted, the verses are somewhat parallel, such as we might find, for instance, in an early hymn about Christ. And the verses also contain one or two expressions that are unusual in Paul. So, although we cannot be certain, it might very well be that Paul seeks to establish some common ground with his Roman readers by beginning the letter with a reference to an early Christian confession or hymn well known to the church.
    Some Christians might wonder how such a quotation might affect our understanding of the Bible’s inspiration. If Paul did not write these words himself, are they still inspired Scripture? The answer is yes. The inspiration of Scripture does not require that the biblical authors be the first to come up with the actual words that we find in the Bible. It requires simply that they (and, of course, God) were involved in the selection of the words that now appear in the Bible. If Paul quotes from a tradition in verses 3–4, then he would have chosen (and edited) the words under inspiration so that they communicate just what God wanted us to know.

The point, then, is this: Paul’s typical “flesh versus Spirit” contrast suggests that he is contrasting not two natures of Christ but two stages in his existence. As God’s Son, Jesus came to earth as David’s descendant and accomplished the work of the Messiah; but after his resurrection, and through the work of the Holy Spirit, he entered into a new stage of existence, “Son-of-God-in-power.” Note, again in contrast again to the NIV, that I have attached the words “in power” to the title “Son of God” rather than to the verb. I have done this because the Greek verb translated “declared” (horizō) probably should be translated “appointed” (as in all seven other New Testament occurrences of the verb [Lk 22:22; Acts 2:23; 10:42; 11:29; 17:26, 31; Heb 4:7]). Jesus, who has existed from eternity as Son of God, became “Son-of-God-in-power” when God raised him from the dead and sent the Holy Spirit to inaugurate the new era of redemption. Jesus now reigns over a kingdom in which redeemed men and women can experience the new power of the “age to come.”
Fourth, in arguing for a two-stage understanding of Paul’s christological statement in these verses, I have introduced the notion of salvation history. Contemporary scholars of Paul generally agree that Paul’s thinking and writing about Jesus and Christian experience are dominated by a certain way of conceiving God’s work in history drawn from his Jewish background. Jews in Paul’s day, especially those influenced by the apocalyptic movement, tended to divide the history of God’s work in the world into two distinct eras: the “present age,” dominated by sin and Gentile oppression of Jews, and “the age to come,” when sin would be taken away and the Messiah would reign over a triumphant Israel. New Testament writers, as well as Jesus himself, adopted this scheme but modified it in light of the two separate comings of the Messiah. Jesus’ first coming inaugurates the new age of redemption without eradicating the present, evil age. At his second coming the present age will cease to be while the new age, in an enhanced form, will remain. We use the term salvation history to denote this general scheme, according to which God’s salvation is accomplished in the world through a historical process divided into stages.
Interpreting specific expressions often requires that we set those expressions in a larger world of discourse. “Salvation history” is Paul’s world of discourse, and I will refer frequently to this overall framework to interpret and apply specific language in Romans. I introduce the matter here because it furnishes the appropriate context within which to understand the “flesh versus Spirit” contrast of verses 3–4. Within Paul’s salvation-historical scheme, “flesh” relates to the old age and “Spirit” to the new.
Fifth, Paul’s apostolic commission, he tells us in verse 5, is to “call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” Paul’s call to minister to Gentiles is well known. While Jews never were excluded from Paul’s apostolic sphere of service, God chose him to be the “point man” in bringing the good news of Christ to the Gentiles. We therefore find Paul’s successful evangelistic campaign in southern Asia Minor to be the focus of controversy at the apostolic council (Acts 15); and Paul writes an impassioned letter to defend the law-free offer of the gospel to the Gentiles (Galatians). We are offered the fruit of some of those struggles and controversies in this very letter, as Paul helps the Roman Christians—and us—to understand that the gospel is offered without the law and yet in continuity with the Old Testament.
But especially interesting in this verse is the way Paul presents his purpose in ministry: “the obedience that comes from faith.” The phrase is an important one in Romans because Paul, in a sense, “frames” the letter with it, coming back to it in his conclusion (16:26 [the NIV paraphrases, but the Greek is the same]). Again the NIV translation reflects a decision: the Greek is literally translated “the obedience of faith” (so the NRSV). The English preposition “of” (as the Greek genitive construction it translates) allows for several possible specific interpretations of the relationship between “obedience” and “faith.” Two are especially important: “the obedience that comes from faith” (NIV) and “the obedience that is faith.” The second interpretation takes “faith” to be an expansion of what “obedience” means. One “obeys” God by believing him and his Son. Support for this rendering comes from places in Paul’s writings where he seems to equate obedience and faith (e.g., Rom 1:8; 10:16; 11:23, 30–31; 16:19). And one might argue that the Book of Acts highlights Paul’s evangelistic ministry above all else. With the former, NIV rendering, the focus is more on the life of discipleship that should follow from genuine biblical faith. Paul would be suggesting that his mission is to exhort Christians to obey the Lord whom they have believed, to live out their faith in everyday life. And Paul’s letters certainly manifest a concern for this life of obedience.
At the risk of trying to have my cake and eat it too, let me suggest that we avoid the extremes of each of these interpretations. Paul seems deliberately to have chosen a phrase that preserves a careful balance between his desire to awaken faith in non-Christians and to stimulate obedience in believers. His mission is to call Gentiles to a faith that carries with it the determination to obey the Lord, and to an obedience that is stimulated by fresh experiences of faith. The NIV “obedience that comes from faith” may convey this idea, but it is capable of being interpreted as a kind of two-stage experience: one first believes and then later obeys. For Paul, however, genuine Christian faith always carries with it, right from the beginning, the call for obedience. Paul calls on people to believe in the Lord Jesus, and calling Jesus “Lord” means that one is committed to doing what Jesus commands. Faith and obedience are two sides of the same coin. One cannot have true faith without obedience, nor can one truly obey without believing.

Moo, D. J. (2002). Encountering the book of Romans : A theological survey (39–51). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

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Paul N | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 8 2011 10:21 AM

Thanks Ted! It looks like Moo doesn't hold back, but condenses and suveys (like I now see the title says!)  This looks helpful.

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Ted Hans | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 8 2011 10:26 AM

Paul Newsome:

Thanks Ted! It looks like Moo doesn't hold back, but condenses and suveys (like I now see the title says!)  This looks helpful.

Blessings and you are welcome.



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Todd Phillips | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 8 2011 10:27 AM

Paul Newsome:
I noticed that the Romans volume in this series by Douglas Moo was only 240 "pages" long.  Is the series less in depth and more of an overview?

It is intended as an upper-level undergraduate textbook.  I like it because it is a distillation/summary of Moo's larger commentary. The Publisher's Preface  does a good job explaining the purpose of the book:

Publisher’s Preface

Bible courses must be considered the heart of the curriculum for Christian colleges and evangelical seminaries. For Christians the Bible constitutes the basis for both our spiritual and our intellectual lives—indeed for all of life. If these courses are fundamental to Christian education, then the textbooks used for these courses could not be more crucial.

Baker Book House is launching a series of volumes for college-level Bible courses. In this series, Baker will publish texts that are clearly college-level. The textbooks for the basic college survey courses and for the more advanced college courses on individual Bible books will not be written for laypeople or pastors and seminarians, nor will they be primarily reference books. Rather, they will be pedagogically oriented textbooks written with collegians in mind.

Encountering the Book of Romans attempts to build on the basic survey text, Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey (Walter A. Elwell and Robert W. Yarbrough). While the survey text is written for college freshmen, this Romans volume is intended for upper-level collegians.

Rather than providing a sustained exegetical analysis of each verse in the Book of Romans, this volume surveys the entire book with an emphasis on drawing out its theological message and its practical significance for collegians. It consists of appropriate introduction and survey material with the necessary critical, historical, literary, hermeneutical, and background concerns woven within the exposition of the biblical text.

Guiding Principles

As part of the developing of this volume, the series editors, author, and publisher established the following principles:

  1. It must reflect the finest in evangelical scholarship of our day.
  2. It must be written at a level that most of today’s upper-level collegians can understand.
  3. It must be pedagogically sound. This extends not only to traditional concerns like study and review questions, chapter objectives and summaries for each chapter, but also the manner in which the material is presented.
  4. It must include appropriate illustrative material such as photographs, maps, charts, graphs, figures, and sidebars.
  5. It must seek to winsomely draw in the student by focusing on biblical teaching concerning crucial doctrinal and ethical matters.


The goals for Encountering the Book of Romans fall into two categories: intellectual and attitudinal. The intellectual goals are to (1) present the factual content of the Book of Romans, (2) introduce historical, geographical, and cultural background, (3) outline primary hermeneutical principles, (4) touch on critical issues (e.g., why some people read the Bible differently), and (5) substantiate the Christian faith.

The attitudinal goals are also fivefold: (1) to make the Bible a part of students’ lives, (2) to instill in students a love for the Scriptures, (3) to make them better people, (4) to enhance their piety, and (5) to stimulate their love for God. In short, if this text builds a foundation for a lifetime of Bible study, the authors and publisher will be amply rewarded.

Overarching Themes

Controlling the writing of Encountering the Book of Romans have been three essential theological themes: God, people, and the gospel as it relates to individuals. The notion that God is a person—one and three—and a transcendent and immanent Being has been woven throughout the text. Moreover, this God has created people in his image who are fallen but still the objects of his redemptive love. The gospel is the means, the active personal power that God uses to rescue people from darkness and death. But the gospel does more than rescue—it restores. It confers on otherwise hopeless sinners the resolve and strength to live lives that please God, because they walk in the love that comes from God.


The publisher’s aim has been to provide an exceptionally unique resource on the one hand but not to be merely trendy on the other. Some of the distinguishing features we hope will prove helpful to the professor and inspiring to the student include the following:

  • liberal use of illustrations—photographs, figures, tables, charts
  • sidebars and excursuses exploring exegetical, ethical, and theological issues of interest and concern to modern-day collegians
  • chapter outline and objectives presented at the opening of each chapter
  • study questions at the end of each chapter
  • a helpful glossary
  • a bibliography to guide further study

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Paul N | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 8 2011 10:46 AM

Thanks Todd!  I see these books deal with individual books of the Bible as well as broader themes of the entire Bible.  Is everything tagged under one EBS series tag in Logos?

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Todd Phillips | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 8 2011 12:55 PM

Paul Newsome:

Thanks Todd!  I see these books deal with individual books of the Bible as well as broader themes of the entire Bible.  Is everything tagged under one EBS series tag in Logos?

No series tags (as of yet).

Romans is currently the only one that covers an individual Bible book (Psalms is still on prepub) and the only one tagged as a commentary. The OT and NT survey volumes are monographs.

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Paul N | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 10 2011 3:59 AM

Thought I'd post links:

Encountering the Book of Psalms: A Literary and Theological Introduction (in pre-pub)

Encountering the Book of Romans (by Douglas Moo)

Baker Encountering the Bible Collection (3 vols.) (includes Romans, OT Survey, & NT Survey)

I'd like to agree with Ted on having more of this collection in Logos

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Caleb S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 3 2012 8:43 PM

I would like to RE-recommend that Logos completes the Baker Encountering Biblical Studies (EBS) series at some point. Here are links to the EBS books that Logos does not yet have (but were mentioned without them above).

Encountering the Book of Isaiah

Encountering the Book of Genesis

Encountering the Book of Hebrews

Encountering John

Readings from the Ancient Near East

Readings from the First-Century World

I would ALSO like to suggest that the current collection name be changed from "Encountering the Bible" to the name that Baker uses, "Encountering Biblical Studies (EBS)".

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