Paul’s letter to the Romans contains some of the most stirring words in history, yet these words are often understood in different ways by different people. For example, whole theological systems find some of their greatest support from this single letter, while opposing theological views see in this letter the complete opposite of what their opponents see. Paul’s letter to the Romans has been one of my favorite books of the Bible to turn to for a long time. When I sit down with the Bible, and I’m not sure exactly what I’d like to study, I turn either to one of the gospels or the book of Romans. Having read several books about Romans, I was interested in reading a book called THE FUTURE OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD by Andrew Perriman.
Perriman argues that Romans is primarily an eschatological text concerning how people are to survive the coming judgment of the nation of Israel and the pagan nations of the world represented most clearly by the Roman Empire. This reframes many of the texts in a way that is different than commonly understood. For example, Paul’s quote from Habakkuk in Romans 1:17 is more about being faithful in the midst of the wrath of God that is coming upon the nations than it is about personal saving faith in Jesus Christ as most evangelical Christians understand it. Perriman seeks to immerse the reader into the thought world of Paul and first-century Judaism by taking an extensive look into the literature of extra biblical sources such as 1 & 2 Maccabees and Wisdom of Solomon, among many others. He suggests that Paul’s focus wasn’t on final judgment and redemption of people, but actual historical events that would occur in the near future. The end goal is to show that God judged the nations and vindicated himself over the pagan gods of the nations when Constantine declared Christianity as the religion of the empire.
While THE FUTURE OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD is well researched and contains many quotes to support Perriman’s conclusions, as well as clearly articulated, I can’t say that I agree with his interpretations of key passages that have been the foundation of orthodox Christianity for two thousand years. It’s certainly an interesting read to see what someone else may come away from Romans with.
I received this book for free for review from Cascade Books.