I’ve just finished up my Romans/Galatians test this last week. I’m doing a practicum this summer, and I have two classes and a thesis left.
One of the assigned texts for my class was N.T. Wright’s commentary on Romans in the New Interpreter’s Bible (Vol. X). I might not agree with everything that he had to say, but I thought his overall argument was pretty persuasive. Here’s my quick summary of the book from my reading of Wright.
Romans 1-4: In the Messiah, God has been true to the covenant established with Abraham to bring the saving order to the whole world. In the face of rebellion in the world and unfaithfulness by the chosen people, God has created a worldwide family of Abraham.
Romans 5-8: God has done what the covenant was set up to do: address the problem of the “sin of Adam.” In this section, Paul addresses the glorification of the people of God, which ultimately comes from the New Exodus in Christ (process of redemption from slavery and being led by the Spirit).
Romans 9-11: This section highlights the tragedy of Israel’s “ironic failure” to believe in the Messiah. This was part of God’s purposes, in that Israel’s fall can in turn result in salvation being extended to the whole world. Jews are not forever barred from Christ, however. Jews should be welcomed into the kingdom and Paul warns Gentiles against anti-Jewish notions that may have been common in Rome at the time.
Romans 12-16: The community created by the gospel must live as truly renewed humanity, internally and externally. This community must illustrate God’s intention that Jew and Gentile would worship together as one body in Christ.
Wright is one of the leading voices of the New Perspective and he focuses on the people of God in light of the story of Israel rather than merely individual justification. Seems to me that the focus in Romans has been too individualistic and the overall story of the people of God has been missed at times. There’s enough room to consider individual justification within the book, but individuals should not be considered apart from the overarching story of the people of God.