Reading Romans Theologically: A Review Article -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 41:4 (Dec 1998)
Article: Reading Romans Theologically: A Review Article
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

Reading Romans Theologically:
A Review Article

Thomas R. Schreiner*

* Thomas Schreiner is professor of New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280.

Major commentaries on various books of the Bible have been appearing at a dizzying pace in recent years. I have also been struck by the increasing length of such commentaries. W. D. Davies and Dale Allison are writing a three-volume commentary on Matthew for the ICC series. John Nolland composed a three-volume commentary on Luke (WBC). Raymond Brown’s work on the epistles of John (AB) is 812 pages long and includes a great deal of small print. The length and depth of so many of the commentaries make them less useful and more expensive for the busy pastor or interested layperson. Perhaps scholars are mainly writing commentaries for other scholars. I for one would like to see a return to the standard that Calvin set in commentary writing: brevity and clarity.1 A commentary should be abreast of modern scholarship, but it should not delve into the details of the text to such an extent that the clarity of the commentary is compromised and the work becomes burdensome for the reader.

A significant new commentary has appeared on the scene with the publication of Douglas Moo’s work on Romans.2 Moo has written a replacement volume for John Murray’s earlier NICNT two-volume work. An aside about Moo’s commentary is necessary here. He wrote an earlier volume on Romans 1–8 (Chicago: Moody, 1991). Moody Press, however, dropped its Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary series, and thus Moo could not complete his work on Romans for Moody and proceeded to send it to Eerdmans. The Wycliffe commentary was a Greek-text commentary, whereas the NICNT explains the English text. Of course Moo’s exegesis in both cases represents a careful interpretation of the original text. In the present series, however, the Greek is explained in the footnotes. Stylistic and format changes mark the new edition, along with the updating of the bibliography. But as Moo himself says, “I made few substantive changes” (p. viii).

The reader may think that Moo has transgressed the ideal of brevity since his commentary exceeds a thousand pages. In this instance, however, such a judgment would be mistaken. Romans is the meatiest of Paul’s letters and deserves more extended reflection. Moreover the volume is extensively footnoted, and thus the pressed pastor or reader could confine himself or herself

to the text (though there is a gold mine of re...

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