Romans is not about your salvation, says Bible scholar Scot McKnight

Religion News Service | 7/25/2019 | Staff
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Scot McKnight, an evangelical scholar, author, and blogger, at the pulpit.

Paul’s letter to the Romans is the pinnacle of the apostle’s theology–a dense, rich text that Biblical studies experts have been poring over for centuries.

None - Scholars - Romans - End - Beginning

But I’m willing to bet that none of those scholars ever tried reading Romans from the end to the beginning, which is what evangelical scholar and popular author Scot McKnight does in his new book Reading Romans Backwards: A Gospel of Peace in the Midst of Empire.

Backmasking Romans gives us a totally different perspective, McKnight says. All that historical context that’s at the end of the letter–information about the house churches in Rome, names of the women and men who were in charge, and hints about the deep divisions between Jews and Gentiles–is crucial for understanding the meaty theology in the first half.

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What’s more, it’s crucial for understanding the divisions we’re experiencing right now. There may never have been a more important time for American Christians to study Romans than during the age of Donald Trump.

RNS: Why should we read Romans backwards?

McKnight - Romans - Text - New - Testament

McKnight: Romans is the most significant theological text in the New Testament for the development of Christian theology, and yet today it’s a network of arguments and problems. In reading Romans over the years, I became convinced that the book became abstract theology, if not systematic theology, and it totally lost connection with its historical context.

And here’s why: it’s a lot of work to read Romans 1 through 8. When you add Romans 9 to 11, it’s even more work. By the time people get to Romans 12, they’re exhausted, and they skim over it. They make a pledge that next time, they will just use Galatians! It’s the Readers Digest version of Romans.

Church - Context

So what is the most important social and church context for understanding...
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