Retelling Romans: Introduction

I have long said I wanted to write a “blogmentary” (blog commentary) on Romans.

I think what I really wanted to do, above all else, is try retelling Paul’s letter to the Romans so that it can be heard afresh by a modern Christian audience.

One big challenge for Christian readers of the Bible is the tendency to know who the “good guys” are in stories and assume that we are them. And so we assume that we’re the Samaritan, or the tax collector, and not the priest or the Pharisee or the uncomprehending disciples or the stubborn and rebellious Israelites.

And when we read Romans, we assume that we represent the view Paul is advocating, not the one that he is writing to combat and challenge.

And so much as some have tried to mirror the original impact of the parable of the Good Samaritan by replacing the priest and Levite with a Christian pastor and Sunday school teacher, and the Samaritan with a Muslim or whatever else might upset a modern Christian hearer, I am going to try rewriting Romans as though it is addressing Christians.

When Paul wrote it, the term “Christians” was not being used yet, at least by him. And so when he writes of the Jews, or of Israel, he is referring to those who then understood themselves to be the people of God – much as Christians tend to understand themselves today.

And so I will be working through the text in small chunks in coming days. I may add commentary after the retelling, or I may leave it as is in the blog post proper, and explain reasons for rendering things a particular way in comments, whether immediately after or in response to questions.

I hope you find the series interesting!

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  • Brant Clements

    You intrigue me, sir.

  • jay

    Sounds good. I can’t wait until you get to Romans 11:26 and we discover that there is still hope that “all Christians will be saved”

  • arcseconds

    Is that Caravaggio?

    • James F. McGrath

      It is thought to be by Valentin de Boulogne.

      • arcseconds

        well, it’s nice to see that Valentin was a contemporary of Caravaggio, studied in Italy and was a Caravaggisto, so at least I’m in the ballpark!