is this how you describe the “framework” of Romans? (HT: @ivpress)

English: page with text of Epistle to the Roma...
English: page with text of Epistle to the Romans 1:1-7 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IVP Books recently published a book titled, Frameworks, How to Navigate the New Testament by Eric Larson.

Frameworks is a fresh, innovative and groundbreaking survey of the New Testament that combines compelling stories, brilliant images and simple illustrations (maps, charts) to create context (conceptual frameworks) that guide you through the Bible.

Presented in an attractive, less-is-more format with lots of refreshing white space, this book will help you navigate your way through the twists and turns of the New Testament by helping you answer ten questions for each of the 27 New Testament books…

On the IVP facebook, they released a photo of Romans (always the best book to highlight).

There is a lot of discussion (or maybe I just heard some at SBL) about the nature of Romans and Paul’s possible use of rhetoric. For those who engage/use rhetorical criticism of the New Testament, Romans is a rhetorical piece, although there are disagreements as to how much and to what type of rhetoric is used. Stanley Stowers sees it as a protreptic letter aimed at introducing Paul to a new audience. He sees a use of the rhetoric apostrophe as well. I, as I have posted before, agree with Stowers in a broad manner. I believe Paul is using the protreptic style to writer Romans, but so too the rhetorical προσωποποιία (prosopopoeia) to do so. Paul has written Romans is a dramatic fashion where he stands as the pro-Gentile Jew against the anti-Gentile Jew as well as the Jew (parent) who must remind the Gentile (child) of Israel’s place in God’s salvation history.

All of this is done to introduce Paul to a new audience and contains, I believe, every bit of Paul’s theology. However, it must be read the correct way, else we are left with theological positions Paul actually argued against.

I have not yet read Larson’s book, so I am simply going off the picture. I disagree, strongly, that chapters 9-11 are about our rejection of God, but rather are a reminder of God’s continued covenant with Israel. His chapter setting in 1-3 is also trouble, or rather, too broad. I do not think Paul is simply arguing we all need salvation, but rather, Paul argues that salvation is given to all, an argument reaching a zenith in chapter 5. To note, his categorization of chapters 12-16 are okay.

My point is, besides highlighting this book which looks great for small groups, is to suggest Romans needs a better framework. In private discussions with a reader of this blog, I’ve seen one. He has taken some of the work I put forth and went through Romans in such a way as to show a complete dialogue within the entire book. This is only the first step, as once you fully establish how to read Romans, then you will need to decipher what, if anything, this means to current discussions on justification, universalism, and covenants.

Jim is going to disagree, of course.

Also, be sure to check out Larson’s book.

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Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

One thought on “is this how you describe the “framework” of Romans? (HT: @ivpress)”

  1. Chapters 9-11 are about the “new” covenant re-envisioned in the Messiah. Trying to read Paul through a lens of modern Evangelical American Individualism where the whole Bible is somehow personalized is exactly how we got a whole bunch of the wacko “Pauline” doctrine that is being preached and taught today in American Christianity. Paul is talking about a new world order in which the “seed of Abraham” is Jesus and true sonship in the family of Abraham comes through faith in the fact that Jesus is the Messiah.

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