Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Syllabus for Romans 2:1-3:9

Instead of writing a post on each of these topics, I thought I'd provide an outline of an imaginary 14 week course on it.  Here's the way I'd like the class to be layed out if I was going to take it.

Week 1: Background theology: "Root and Fruit" and Future Justification
You need to be familiar with the passages in scripture that talk about the fact that Christians will be distinguishable based on their fruits.  This will help your assessment of whether or not Paul is talking about that in this passage.  Same thing with "future justification".  Does such a concept exist in scripture?  Get a solid foundation about what the Bible as a whole says about these things.  Primary sources: Paul David Tripp's "How People Change"

Week 2: Background exegesis (1): Old Testament sources
Mainly bring up what's going on in the poetic passages (Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah) that Paul quotes from.  Walk through their background.  Primary sources: Seifrid (Commentary on NT use of the OT) vs (!) Moo (Romans).

Week 3: Background exegesis (II): NT context and literary features
Cover the parallel passages in Paul.  Also bring up the diatribe style, how it was used in contemporary sources.  If time permits, deal with E.P. Sander's (crazy) claims.  (e.g. deal with whether or not Paul was wrong to require so much of the Jews for their salvation.  And other NPP debates.)

Week 4: Background ethics and application: Hypocrisy
Give a general overview of the way we choose spin rather than substance. Primary source: Cornelius Plantinga's "Not the Way it's Supposed to Be" and his chapter "Masquerade".

Week 5: Romans 2:1-5, Switching to the religious world
Cover mainly how these verses set the tone for 2:1-3:9.  Especially with regards to hypocrisy.  Trace the themes of hypocrisy and judgment through the rest of the section to get and understanding of the importance of this opening section.  If time permits, cover who Paul's audience is in this section (his "hidden target").

Week 6: Romans 2:6-11, Judged according to our works
Focus mainly on the debates surrounding whether or not Paul is referring to Christians in this passage.  Bring up the prevailing modern view (that Christians are in view) over against the traditional Lutheran view (that they aren't).  Examine the symmetry and chiasm in the passage.  Review the OT background (Proverbs) behind "according to their works" (v. 6).

Week 7: Review for Mid-term.  Survey the recent contributions on Pauline theology from children's literature.

Week 8: Excursus: Gentiles and Christians in Romans 2:1-29
Take a break to argue that Christians are not mentioned until 1:29 and that they are not being described by any of the verses prior to this one.  Answer any questions.

Week 9: Romans 2:12-16, Jew and Gentile
Several items: (1) The "law" that Paul brings up and how it is used in verse 12.  (2) The common grace of conscience (v. 14-15) and the philosophical ramifications of these verses (especially as they relate to natural law), and (3) Bring up the alleged future justification of verse 13.  (4) Should there be a parenthesis in this passage or not?  (5) If time permits, deal with any wrong hermenuetics commonly associated with this passage (inclusivism, or that it is referring to Gentile Christians).

Week 10: Romans 2:17-24
Were the Jews robbing temples?  What is Paul doing in this passage?  Cover how vv. 17-18 are symmetrical with vv. 19-20.  Emphasize that vv. 17-20 were all true and good things.  Review the OT background of v. 24.

Week 11: Romans 2:25-29
Cover how crazy and irritating Paul must have seemed to the Jews of the time.  How revolutionary it was for Paul to be messing with "circumcision".  Also point out Paul's use of the word "law" and how someone can keep it without being circumcised.  Cover the way (and reason) Paul brings in the language of the "Spirit" in verse 29.  If time permits, deal with whether or not verse 27 is hypothetical.

Week 12: Romans 3:1-8
Cover the traditional interpretation of this passage.  Understand the traditional exegete's view of who is asking the questions and how and why Paul answers them the way he does.  If time permits, examine some of the nuances in the original text and why this text is so difficult to translate.

Week 13: Main application - our condemnation
Spend a week reviewing the other sections (before the test).  And re-reflect on the theme of judgment that has been in Romans up until now (Romans 1:18-3:8).  Examine various ways this can be brought into evangelism conversations.  "Sin is more than just disobeying a father.  It is a treasonous rebellion of a subject in the kingdom against a good and noble king."  Reflect on Paul's main point of this passage (we are all under sin).

Week 14: Exit
Last class. Bring up some of the main homiletical challenges this passage presents.  Ask the class for any ideas they can think of for how to preach it.  Review its common applications. Review for final.

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