Tom Wright – Paul for Everyone – Romans

by Dave on March 26, 2011

in Theology

I picked up the N.T. Wright study guide; Paul for Everyone Romans a few weeks ago in anticipation of going through this Epistle with a study group that I have attended for the better part of a year now.  I had high expectations that Tom would present his ideas in a clear and compelling way and his book has lived up to my expectations.  The book comes in two volumes with chapters 1-8 and 9-16 separate.

Not only does Bishop Wright interpret the text for us, but he also provides his own translation of the text that is consistent with his interpretation.  I think this is key since part of the problem of Romans is that the language has changed so much and is so embedded in the culture of the day that a word for word translation is not adequate.  Here is an example from Romans 1:

I am under obligation to barbarians as well as to Greeks, you see; both to the wise and to the foolish. That’s why I’m eager to announce the good news to you, too, in Rome.  I’m not ashamed of the good news; it’s God’s power, bringing salvation to everyone who believes – to the Jew first, and also, equally; to the Greek.  This is because God’s covenant justice is unveiled in it, from faithfulness to faithfulness.  As it says in the Bible, “the just shall live by faith”.

This can be compared with the NIV 2011 translation:

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[e] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Tom Wright’s translation really brings out the nuance of his interpretation of the ‘righteousness of God’ as well as clarifying what is meant by Greeks and non-Greeks, for example.

Another interpretation difference that Wright makes is that he regularly interprets ‘khristos’ as King instead of the more traditional Christ.  I believe that this adds to the ease with which we are able to transition from our world into the world of the first century ancient near east with more of the political and sociological overtones being present in the text.

So I am a big fan.  Wright presents many everyday situations that relate to the text and truly feel that his rendering of Romans is accessible by everyone.  Highly recommended.

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