Arguably the finest, concise commentary on Romans that helps readers to hear this letter on its own Jewish terms, and follow its arguments.
At long last we have a shorter, accessible, yet scholarly, commentary on Romans! Written with the general public in mind, Keener labors tirelessly to help us to hear this letter on its own Jewish terms, while simultaneously addressing its relevance for 21st century readers. The reader who fully engages this commentary, including its footnotes, will be led to join us in prayer that Dr. Keener will have the time to write the much larger commentary on Romans that he mentions in the preface!
From the Introduction
When we speak of Paul and “Judaism,” we are usually thinking in anachronistic terms. Paul, like most of the earliest Christian movement even in the Diaspora, was Jewish. Modern Western readers distinguish “Judaism” and “Christianity,” as distinct religions, but the Christian movement, as it came to be called, viewed itself as carrying on the biblical faith of patriarchs and prophets in view of end-time fulfillment in Christ, demonstrated by the eschatological gift of the Spirit.
From the Excursus on Paul and the Law in Romans
For Paul, the law is good (7:12, 14); the problem is not the law but flesh, which law was designed to control, not transform (8:3). …The status of the law appears problematic so often in Romans precisely because it is the abuse of the law that is most at issue. …Paul sometimes uses deliberately provocative statements about the law (even more so in Galatians than in Romans) for his rhetorical purpose. We should not use such statements to sum up Paul’s whole theology of the law (or even assume that, from his…letters, we have his entire theology of the law). Still less should we discard all insights that we might arrive at inductively through studying the [Torah], based on Paul’s approach in specific polemical or pedagogical contexts.