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Paul's Rhetoric in Its Contexts offers a substantially new interpretation of Romans, looking in detail at the specific contexts in which Paul wrote the letter, the internal literary cues to its structure, and the rhetoric and philosophical style of his arguments. The resulting interpretation is not a commentary. Rather, it offers new and perhaps truer views of Paul's actual concerns and objectives in writing the letter and to the arguments he makes in it. According to Tobin, Paul wrote this letter as a response to the Roman Christian community's suspicion of him because of his controversial past and writing, rethinking and revising some of the positions he took earlier in his letters to the Galatian and Corinthian churches. Tobin argues that, while recent ecumenically minded works have moved beyond longstanding denominational interpretations to offer a broader perspective on Romans, they have still not broken through the basic framework itself of these interpretations. For example, while most interpreters have moved beyond taking denominational positions in the interpretation of Romans on such topics as justification by faith, salvation, or "the works of the law," the belief has remained that these topics are, indeed, what Paul's letter to the Romans is about. This substantial reevaluation of Romans provides a rich array of fresh perspectives on the book, offering new ways to understand and use the letter, both in the interpretation of early Christianity and in contemporary theological discussion. Scholars and pastors alike will find the bibliography, outline, and indexes useful.
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Thomas H. Tobin, S.J., is professor of New Testament and early Christianity at Loyola University of Chicago. He is the author of three books: The Creation of Man: Philo and the History of Interpretation, Timaios of Locri: On the Nature of the World and the Soul, and The Spirituality of Paul. He has also written a number of scholarly articles in the areas of the New Testament (especially on Paul and the Gospel of John) and of Hellenistic Judaism. He has been a member of the editorial boards of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, the Journal of Biblical Literature, and New Testament Studies. At present he is a member of the editorial boards of The Studia Philonica Annual and The Studia Philonica Monograph Series.
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