Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice

Book, 2019, 416 pp
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Globalization. Homelessness. Ecological and economic crisis. Conflicts over sexuality. Violence. These crisis-level issues may seem unique to our times, but Paul's Letter to the Romans has something to say to all of them.

Following their successful Colossians Remixed, Sylvia Keesmaat and Brian Walsh unpack the meaning of Romans for its original context and for today. The authors demonstrate how Romans disarms the political, economic, and cultural power of the Roman Empire and how this ancient letter offers hope in today's crisis-laden world.

Romans Disarmed helps readers enter the world of ancient Rome and see how Paul's most radical letter transforms the lives of the marginalized then and now. Intentionally avoiding abstract debates about Paul's theology, Keesmaat and Walsh move back and forth between the present and the past as they explore themes of home, economic justice, creation care, the violence of the state, sexuality, and Indigenous reconciliation. They show how Romans engages with the lived reality of those who suffer from injustice, both in the first century and in the midst of our own imperial realities.

"Keesmaat and Walsh have once again interwoven close textual reading of the New Testament [...] with its unabashedly Jewish roots and its explosive relationship to the Roman imperial context. Most importantly, they bring the message of Romans into dialogue with our lives today, as we struggle to be faithful to the good news of Messiah Jesus in our own imperial context." -- J. Richard Middleton, professor of biblical worldview and exegesis, Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College

"This brilliant study engages the original audience, who labored under the shadow of empire, in a way that brings its message to life for similarly struggling North American Christians. The authors employ a robust imagination, an interlocutor, and keen historical literacy to free Romans from its captivity to dogmatic and pietistic interpretations, restoring it to its social context (with all its disturbing parallels to our own)." -- Ched Myers, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries

"Keesmaat and Walsh use an artistic mix of story, poetry, imaginative discourse, and solid biblical and social-cultural-historical background that allows the reader to understand the book of Romans from an alternative, and I believe more accurate, point of view. Paul's letter to the Romans was not written from an enlightenment-bound worldview and this book dislodges any such notions." -- Randy S. Woodley, author of Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision

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