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Anthony C. Thiselton: Discovering Romans

Recommended for those who desire a deeper understanding of how their lives might be shaped by the living and active word of God through Paul’s letter to the Romans 

Discovering RomansDiscovering Romans – content, interpretation, reception
By Anthony C. Thiselton
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN: 978-0802874092
Reviewed by Rosa Hunt

This commentary on Romans is a real labour of love. Anthony Thiselton’s passion for Paul, his encyclopaedic knowledge and his attention to detail are evident on every page.

The commentary’s subtitle (which is also the subtitle for all volumes in the Discovering series) - “content, interpretation, reception” – gives a hint of the refreshingly original approach of this text. Before engaging with the text itself, Thiselton provides a number of extremely helpful chapters.

First, he gives eight reasons why readers should engage with the letter to the Romans at all. Next, he outlines three major strategies and nine further ones for the interpretation of Romans. Often, the interpretive strategy assumed by a commentary is implicit and has to be deduced by the reader, so it was helpful to have the different possible strategies identified. Then follow two excellent chapters outlining the basics of reception history and of textual criticism.

Again, Thiselton’s brief overview of how exactly textual criticism works and what the various symbols used by textual critics mean were very helpful, as it has been a few years since I last had an opportunity to use this kind of knowledge. And then follows a chapter on Paul’s sociohistorical context, before we plunge into the text in detail.

The threefold emphasis on content, interpretation and reception means that Thiselton’s analysis does not remain at the level of dry textual analysis, but rather brings the text to life for the contemporary reader.

For instance, in his discussion of Romans 1:26-27, Thiselton includes a summary of the findings of the 2003 report Some Issues in Human Sexuality chaired by the then Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, as well as a summary of the position of those on the opposite side of the debate. As a result, the commentary combines top-flight Biblical scholarship with wisdom and warmth, making the text and its reception relevant to scholar and preacher alike.

I would highly recommend this book to all those who desire a deeper, more scholarly, understanding of how their lives might be shaped by the living and active word of God through Paul’s letter to the Romans.

The Revd Dr Rosa Hunt is the minister of Salem Baptist Chapel in Tonteg, near Pontypridd, South Wales and has a particular interest in Biblical Hermeneutics

Baptist Times, 01/12/2016
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