Perhaps I am grading the book unfairly based on what I expected it to be, but I was hoping for at least a semi-academic analysis of Paul's letter to the Romans, illuminating the various ways in which it was crafted as an anti-empire polemic. Instead, it is more of a hypothetical exercise in how one would apply the book of Romans to modern-day colonialism if one starts from the assumption that it is an anti-empire polemic. I found myself wondering if I was expected to look up every footnote and read the articles in their entirety in order to understand how the authors arrived at their conclusions. They occasionally refer to passages in Romans, they quote a verse here and there, but the relevance of those verses to their argument is tentative at best, and it is nowhere near a comprehensive evaluation of the contents of the letter. When they do treat a passage in some depth (as they do for chapter 1 verses 26-27) it is a tantalizing peek into what this book could have been.
The style is engaging -- a little bit of first-century fictional character role-play, a little bit of poetry, a little bit of personal testimony about their relationships with marginalized people groups, and a little bit of straightforward analysis. Painting a picture what life is like as an oppressed minority (either in 1st century Rome or 21st century Canada) is one thing the book does well.
The most frustrating thing is that I suspect they might be right in their speculations. One gets the sense that there is some solid scholarship underlying it all, but is not provided much insight into it. Rather than trying to prove the case they are making, the authors seem to be asking the reader more-or-less to take their word for it, I, for one, am not nearly familiar enough with them or their prior work to give them that much benefit of the doubt.
In summary, the book reads more like an exercise in creative imagination than biblical scholarship. So if you're interested in exploring how Paul might be calling us to sustainable farming and protecting endangered species, how he might be warning us against the dangers of cell phone addiction and free-market capitalism, you will like this book. If you are more interested in how the authors made the leap from the bare text of the letter to the conclusions they draw, you will be (as I was) disappointed.
- Paperback: 418 pages
- Publisher: Brazos Press (21 May 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1587432846
- ISBN-13: 978-1587432842
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.6 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 558 g
- Customer Reviews: 7 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)