Beverly Roberts Gaventa
Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Mich. 160 pages
Another commentary on Romans? One might reasonably ask why another volume is needed. Beverly Roberts Gaventa answers that question with this brief volume that is rich in pastoral insight, theological depth and exegetical skill. In the digital age when receiving letters is rare, she wants us to remember this is a letter from Paul, most likely read aloud by a female leader of the congregations in Rome. Gaventa explores important themes in the letter with an eye toward contemporary issues. For instance, Paul’s famous chapter on the status of God’s covenant with Israel, post-Jesus Christ, is explored thoroughly and carefully. She addresses the universal scope of Paul’s proclamation of God’s love with a deft exploration that includes references to Bruce Springsteen. Hospitality to strangers is a central Christian practice that is currently being undermined; Gaventa describes hospitality as a core virtue of the church and describes how it shapes the very nature of Christian practice. She shows how worship and ethics are integrated in Paul’s vision for the church rather than split apart as so often happens. What’s remarkable about this volume is the rare combination of depth with accessibility. Preachers will find here an encouragement to preach the great themes of the Christian faith at the core of Romans that are often neglected in preference for the stories from the Gospels. Gaventa invites her readers to linger with the gospel according to Paul. Accept her invitation; you won’t regret it.