Monthly Archives: October 2011

Nate Dawson

Tom Holland’s Romans is biblical and devotional in the best sense of those terms. His striking emphasis on the theological themes of the Old Testament is uncommon among New Testament specialists. Although New Testament scholars emphasize the history and world(s) of the first century, Holland focuses on theology within the context of Scripture. Leaving room for preachers and teachers to apply Paul’s insight to their community today, Holland’s Romans will help Christians enter into deeper communion with God and one another. This work is commendable not only for preachers wanting to offer insights into Paul’s theology, it nicely disrupts current fads in Pauline scholarship. Romans: The Divine Marriage is a ‘true’ biblical theology influenced primarily by the witness of the Old Testament narrative, thankfully, without all the ‘scholarly historic fiction’ often produced by modern biblical scholars. All should ‘take and read’ in order to better understand the Bible’s narrative from Paul’s ‘perspective.’
Nate Dawson

Nate Dawson

Tom Holland’s Romans is biblical and devotional in the best sense of those terms. His striking emphasis on the theological themes of the Old Testament is uncommon among New Testament specialists. Although New Testament scholars emphasize the history and world(s) of the first century, Holland focuses on theology within the context of Scripture. Leaving room for preachers and teachers to apply Paul’s insight to their community today, Holland’s Romans will help Christians enter into deeper communion with God and one another. This work is commendable not only for preachers wanting to offer insights into Paul’s theology, it nicely disrupts current fads in Pauline scholarship. Romans: The Divine Marriage is a ‘true’ biblical theology influenced primarily by the witness of the Old Testament narrative, thankfully, without all the ‘scholarly historic fiction’ often produced by modern biblical scholars. All should ‘take and read’ in order to better understand the Bible’s narrative from Paul’s ‘perspective.’
Nate Dawson

Chris Hanna

Tom Holland has once again passionately argued for an alternative reading of the New Testament in his latest contribution to biblical studies, “Romans: The Divine Marriage.” Picking up where he left off in his earlier work, “Contours of Pauline Theology,” Holland continues his relentless demand that Paul must be read through an Old Testament lens. “Only when we have exhausted the Old Testament’s theology,” says Holland, “should we look at the possibility that the apostle was writing outside of the thought-patterns of his own upbringing.”

This bold, fresh approach to New Testament studies is a powerful corrective to the many eclectic readings that have been passed off as sound biblical scholarship for decades. Anyone reading “Romans” will immediately sense and appreciate Holland’s clear, straightforward approach to biblical studies.

“Romans: The Divine Marriage,” should be required reading for anyone interested in developing a rich understanding of the New Testament’s message of the grace of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Chris Hanna

Zerach Patterson

Holland takes us into the heart of Paul’s writings’! “‘What is the heart?” you might ask’. ‘In a world divided by what authors of the Scriptures meant in certain passages,’ ‘it is imperative we find the driving force behind the writer’s words’! ‘Other than the Jesus, perhaps more, Paul is the most quoted teacher in Christianity to this day. Yet where did Paul receive his theology? Holland shows us Paul stays true to the core message in the Old Testament.’ ‘Paul’s message was derived from the long history of prophets,’ ‘leaders and teachers.’ ‘For instance the Apostle brings up the justification of David and of Abraham.’ ‘Holland takes us back into the setting in which these two men received their justification.’ ‘David’s being the forgiveness of his personal sins and Abraham’s having a corporate dimension. The church today has a personal understanding of justification. It is important we find personal justification, but it is of more importance that we focus on corporate justification. A justification that the Apostle Paul and Tom Holland point eagerly to.

Thanks to Holland I am beginning to understand Paul’s great desire to see the church live in unity. Discovering what lengths the Apostle went to urge these first Christians to solidarity, and peace, and love for their new found brothers and sisters has brought more clarity to my understanding of Paul’s writings. The Jews who were part the early church found themselves having meals and conversations with people they were prohibited from having contact with earlier. These people “the Gentiles” are now equal according to Paul and other first followers of the resurrected Christ. I now understand Romans is an insistence of this solidarity between these two and other groups.

What is so brilliant about Holland’s work is it seems he has no desire to insert his opinion on certain subjects? This is hard to grasp in our highly individualistic western culture. It seems Holland lines his beliefs to which he thinks Paul and other authors of the scriptures taught. Thanks to his adhering to scholarly integrity I can recommend “Romans: the Divine Marriage” to leaders and teachers searching for solidarity in their own churches. Due to his uncanny ability to relate to the layman I recommend it to all. Holland combines scholarship with heart!

Zerach Patterson

David Curtis

Tom Holland’s Divine Marriage is a must-have commentary for anyone seriously interested in understanding Paul’s letter to the Romans. Tom offers a truly fresh and invigorating perspective that will task your gray matter and challenge your paradigm. His illumination of the corporate mind set i.e. that Romans was not written to an individual but to a body of believers, is absolutely pivotal if we are to enjoy success in understanding this complex theological masterpiece. Tom recognizes Paul’s commitment to his Jewish roots and does not fall prey to a westernized Greek worldview. Therefore, he will challenge your non-Hebraic thinking on the subjects such as sin, flesh and slavery. I highly recommend this seminal verse-by-verse commentary because it is easy to read, yet incredibly eye-opening both academically and devotionally. Your view of Romans will never be the same!

David B. Curtis

Pete Killingley

Tom Holland’s Divine Marriage continues in the same vein as his previous work Contours of Pauline Theology setting out from the opening page his argument that the book of Romans is ultimately not about each individual’s justification, but the Gentiles’ inclusion, corporately, into the people of God. He picks up on many of the themes from Contours, such as Paul’s understanding of δουλος, the concept of the firstborn, and his use of σαρχ.

The overarching theme, that Paul did not abandon his Jewish roots with a Greek way of thinking, sheds new light on a number of passages that can be difficult to understand, as well as helping the reader to view chapters 9 to 11 not as an anomaly to Paul’s argument, but integral to his understanding of the new people of God created by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The corporate mindset that comes from seeing Paul’s writings as Jewish (as opposed to the individualism that began with Hellenism and has exploded since the time of the Enlightenment) is a welcome refresher to an individualistic church where people are so often told what Jesus can do for them individually, but not where Jesus puts them corporately. I have found that since reading what Holland has to say, that my perspective on the New Testament has been much more healthy in that respect!

But this commentary is not only useful academically or in our desire to better understand the context of Paul’s writings – it is wonderfully uplifting to read for the soul! The chapter on Romans 8 is particularly enjoyable to read, and you get the impression that his pen flowed effortlessly as he joined with Paul in celebrating some of the great truths of the Gospel and our redemption. When we read glorious passages of the Bible such as this, familiarity can sometimes dull the effect of these passages on our souls – Holland’s enthusiasm for what Paul is saying is catching and glorifies God!!

All-in-all, this is a good and helpful commentary for those planning to read through the book of Romans. To read it involves changing your mindset from the prevailing evangelical culture, and seeing Paul’s writing through an unfamiliar lens. As such it should be read slowly, allowing sometimes unfamiliar ideas and concepts to sink in. Most importantly, however, whether slowly or quickly, it must be read by anyone who wishes to get to grips with the message of Romans and who wishes to grow in their love for Jesus Christ the Saviour!!

Pete Killingley