Review: Romans (SGBC)

27263087The Story of God Bible Commentary is an exciting and practical commentary series that seeks to explain the biblical text in light of the grand story of the biblical narrative. The editors and contributors for this series are top-tier scholars with seasoned insight and experience into the world of biblical interpretation and proclamation—making this series an attractive addition to the minister’s library. Most recently, Romans by Michael F. Bird, adds a much anticipated and sizable volume to this growing series.

Bird opens the volume with a brief introduction. Attention is directed towards the standard introductory material, but it is curated in such a way as to position it within the overall theme of the series. As the commentary proper opens the reader is guided passage-by-passage through three major sections: (1) LISTEN to the Story—includes the NIV translation with additional references to encourage the reader to hear the story within its broader biblical context, (2) EXPLAIN the Story—explores and illuminates each passage within its canonical and historical setting, and (3) LIVE the Story—reflects how each passage can be lived today and includes contemporary stories and illustration to aid teachers, preachers, and beyond.

Despite the possibility of some foreseen theological and interpretive disagreements, I think the reader will find the commentary itself to be extremely useful. Bird is well-informed in regards to the contemporary theological conversations that surround the Book of Romans, and his writing style is fresh and engaging. I found the “Live the Story” section to be helpful, but it was a bit inconsistent in this respect—meaning some passages are better than others. Where I found Bird to really shine was the “Explain the Story” section. Bird is consistently helpful here, and his clever illustrations and humorous wit keep the reader engaged throughout. Theologically, I found Bird to be significantly more sensitive to the issues surrounding the New Perspective on Paul than myself, and I presume the same will be true for other readers as well. Still, his interaction was well worth reading. The reader will sense an unusual acquaintance with Bird while reading his commentary, and I found that his conversational tone really bolstered his intentions therein.

Commentaries on the Book of Romans are almost more plentiful than the sand of the sea. Do we really need to add another commentary to the already mountainous pile? Is there anything worth unearthing that hasn’t already seen the sun? These are good and appropriate questions to ask. But a sufficient answer isn’t as easy as it may seem. The Story of God Bible Commentary: Romans by Michael F. Bird is a unique contribution that offers a unified presentation of one of the most important Pauline epistles within the grand scope of the biblical narrative. Bird is well-informed and easy to read, and any lack of distinctive interpretive contribution is made up for in his keen ability to keep sight of the whole amid the details. Moreover, Bird does well in distilling the technical jargon that plagues much of the preexisting mountain of Romans material into a practical package that almost anyone can enjoy and understand. Do you need another commentary on Romans? I don’t know. But you certainly need this one!

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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