Grant R. Osborne, Romans

Grant R. Osborne (2004). The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Romans. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

A few months ago I received a copy of Grant R. Osborne’s Romans commentary from IVP. I was very thankful since my Th.M. thesis will be in this epistle. When I first opened the book I wanted to see how much integration could be seen between Osborne’s  work in hermeneutics and his commentary. I was a bit disappointed to find that the author of The Hermeneutical Spiral doesn’t seem to have felt any desire to do integration.

Nevertheless, it is a solid commentary. It gives a basic introduction but nothing too heavy (since there are a million commentaries on Romans amongst other books and journal articles I am sure that the reader can find more data). It does not spend a lot of time dicing and slicing the text, parsing every word, and filling the pages with footnotes. Rather, it is a very handy commentary for the expositor looking for a solid overview of the book.

As I did in my review of Fee’s commentary in the series I will highlight here some of Osborne’s comments on relevant passages:

Exegetical Highlights:

On 1.18-32:

“Cranfield (1975:105) and Dunn (1988a:53) exemplify a recent trend to see this section as a general indictment of all humankind rather than a specific condemnation of the Gentiles. Paul refers to men rather than Gentiles in 1:18, and the language is reminiscent of the Adam story in Genesis 2-3. Also, in 1:23 Paul refers to Psalm 106:20 and Jeremiah 2:11, both dealing with Israel’s idolatry. So Paul could move from general (the sinfulness of all humanity) to the specific (the sinfulness of the Jews). But there is no way any Jewish person reading this would have understood the passage as aimed at himself. The sins mentioned–idolatry, immorality, homosexuality–were part of Jewish polemics against the Gentiles in the first century.” (p. 45)

On 2.14-15:

“While the Jews have the law, the Gentiles do not. However, Paul argues that they do not have a kind of law that God has written on their hearts (vv. 14-15). While some have argued that these are Gentile Christians on the grounds that they are Gentile Christians that are justified in verse 13 (so Cranfield 1975: 155-156, following Barth), it is better to see these as pagan Gentiles…”  (p. 68)

On 7.15-16:

In reference to whether this is about unregenerated or regenerated humanity, “There are obviously good arguments for both sides; in fact, one could become virtually certain of each side simply by concentrating on the arguments for one and ignoring the opposite arguments.” (p. 181)

On 8:20-21:

“Verses 20-21 tell us why creation desires to see the revelation of the sons of God. Creation has been unable to realize its God-intended potential because it was subjected to frustration or “futility”. Most believe this goes back to the Adam account, particularly Genesis 3:17-18 (“cursed is the creation because of you”). Creation cannot fulfill the purpose for which God designed it.” (p.211)

On 11.26:

All Israel refers not to the Jewish people down through the ages but to the nation at the end of history who will be saved.” ( p.306)