The Letter to the Romans: Salvation as Justice and the Deconstruction of Law
Romans, says Waetjen, is the first publication of the Christ movement. To understand it well is therefore a task of monumental importance, and to understand it today requires a postmodern hermeneutics, in which the interpreter’s subjective experience of reading the text is correlated with historical-critical knowledge and social-scientific criticism.
Romans, says Waetjen, is the first publication of the Christ movement. To understand it well is therefore a task of monumental importance, and to understand it today requires a postmodern hermeneutics, in which the interpreter’s subjective experience of reading the text is correlated with historical-critical knowledge and social-scientific criticism. That hermeneutics has to create a new genre of commentary, making room for readers’ prior understandings as well as for a dynamic form of close reading and consistency building. The outcome is a contemporizing of Paul’s theology that induces conversation with Derrida, Žižek, Badiou and Agamben and others.
The central theme of Romans is, according to Waetjen, the healing of humanity through the realization of ‘the justice of God’, which is disclosed in the movement ‘out of trust into trust’, or, more specifically, out of the trust of Abraham into the trust of Jesus Christ. Living on this side of the law of Sinai and therefore being conscious of the condition of sin requires the reconciliation of Christ’s death and the justification of Christ’s resurrection in order to participate in the New Humanity of life-giving spirits.
Consequently Romans is more than a rhetorical effort to mediate conflicts between Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome. Composed prior to his journey to Jerusalem with the possibility of martyrdom before him, the letter is Paul’s major theological testament.
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Jason A. Myers, Religious Studies Review. –
There seems to be no end to the number of Roman
commentaries being published recently. Waetjen’s contribution,
however, is unique among the various choices, not so
much for its findings as for its approach to the text. The
commentary combines a historical-critical, social-scientific,
and a specifically postmodern hermeneutic in its reading of
Romans. Following the recent trend to read Paul alongside
modern continental philosophers, Waetjen brings Romans
into conversation with contemporary political philosophers,
such as Derrida, Zizek, Badiou, and Agamben. Doing so
causes Waetjen to pay attention to readers’ subjective experiences
in engaging the text. This attempt to read Paul
“through” the eyes of modern philosophy certainly brings
about new insights into this text itself.
M. Eugene Boring, Review of Biblical Literature. –
[R]eaders who struggle with interpreting Paul and ask what he has to say to contemporary believers who themselves struggle with Christian responsibility amid the social issues of our time can come away from this book with several fresh insights. Readers who have worked through this commentary, even if they reject its fundamental thesis, will henceforth find it difficult to separate Paul’s affirmations of the dikaiosynē theou in a way that allows them to be disengaged from the challenges of injustice in our own time … Even at those several points where contemporary readers cannot adopt Waetjen’s own reading, their own thinking will be challenged, enriched, and deepened, and will inform their actions.