[The Kindle edition is now available.]
I have just noticed that The Future of the People of God: Reading Romans Before and After Western Christendom is now available on the Wipf and Stock website (also available on Amazon). I haven’t actually got my own hands on a copy yet, but one should be winging its way to Dubai right now. There’s a description of the book below, along with the back cover endorsements, but basically, in a nutshell, the argument is that by locating Paul’s Letter to the Romans firmly and transparently in a narrative-historical framework, with the Jewish War, the persecution of the churches, and the eventual victory over paganism potentially in view, we not only gain a more cogent understanding of Paul’s ‘theology’, we also put ourselves in a better position to reconstruct our identity as the people of God in this brave new post-Christendom, post-modern world.
The title of the book echoes the name of a conference that I helped organize in 2004, at which Tom Wright addressed an audience that loosely identified itself with the emerging church. It was Matt Scrimgeour, in fact, who came up with ‘The Future of the People of God’. It highlights, for me, the fact that, much as Paul had to confront in Romans the question of whether the coming judgment on Israel meant that the commitment of God to the future of his people had come to an end, the church today is faced with the prospect of effective obsolescence and must ask the hard question of whether the Creator, who chose for himself a people in Abraham, will again be justified, shown to be right, shown to be righteous, vindicated before the nations.
If you feel well-disposed towards me, please buy a copy of the book, or at least pass on word of it by Twitter or your preferred medium of mass dissemination.
At a time when the Western church is having to come to terms – painfully and often reluctantly – with its diminished social and intellectual status in the world following the collapse of Christendom, we find ourselves, as interpreters of Paul, increasingly impressed by the need to relocate his writings in their historical context. That is not a coincidence. The Future of the People of God is an attempt to make sense of Paul’s letter to the Romans at the intersection of these two developments. It puts forward the argument that we must first have the courage of our historical convictions and read the text before Christendom, from the limited, shortsighted perspective of an emerging community that dared to defy the gods of the ancient world. This act of imaginative, critical engagement with the text will challenge many of our assumptions about Paul’s “gospel of God,” but it will also put us in a position to reconstruct an identity and purpose for the people of God after Christendom that is both biblically and historically coherent.
“The Future of the People of God: Reading Romans Before and After Western Christendom is clearly written and compellingly argued. Andrew Perriman probes the meaning of Romans, Paul’s most important letter, shedding light on the respective places of Jews and Gentiles in the redemptive plan of God. Perriman has captured the apostle’s thought and with impressive skill shows how it unfolds step by step. More impressive still is how the letter to the Romans is read in the light of the political realities of the Roman Empire in the middle of the first century and the dominical prophecy of Jerusalem’s impending doom. This is a great book. Highly recommended.”
— Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia
“Andrew Perriman here gives a fresh, highly stimulating reading of Romans rooted in its first century setting. His approach focuses on a soon-to-come historical crisis for Judaism and for the pagan world of Paul’s day, and provides new angles on passage after passage in Romans. This highly original book cannot fail to provoke thought, debate, argument, reflection and re-reading of Romans, both in its first century setting and for today.”
— Steve Walton, Senior Lecturer in Greek and New Testament Studies, and Director of Research, London School of Theology, United Kingdom
If anyone desperately wants a review copy, I’ll see what I can do. Use the contact form to get in touch.
TallSkinnyKiwi: “Anyway, I highly recommend Andrew Perrimans’ new book. It’s well written, well researched, concise, original and brave. Its even better than his earlier books, possibly because of its bounded subject.”
Peter Leithart: “Since I started reading New Perspective writers, I have been frustrated by the implicit, unargued bifurcation of Jesus and Paul. For Wright, Jesus is all about the imminent coming of wrath, but when Wright turns to Paul he seems to forget what he said about Jesus. Perriman’s book begins to heal the breach, and points helpfully toward a necessary post-NPP re-reading of Paul.”
Matthew Montonini: “Many books one reads, especially in the area of biblical studies, are solid and sane, but very few have the potential to shift entire paradigms in the way we think about a figure or text. Andrew Perriman’s The Future of the People of God: Reading Romans Before and After Western Christendom… has this rare potential.”
Euangelion: “There is likely much in this book to critically assess and, truth be told, I have not read this book “analytically”, in Adler and Van Doren’s terminology. The best I’ve done thus far is a “superficial reading”. Still Perriman’s hermeneutical intuition is correct in my view and I think the following quote is worth the price of book…. Wow! Read that again. And again. Read it several times. Surely wiser words have rarely been spoken in contemporary Pauline studies.”
Scott Lencke at Theologica: “Many will be aware of the discussions revolving around the new Pauline perspective, especially in its more current rounds of debate between John Piper and N.T. Wright. I will say from the outset that, if people struggle with accepting the new Pauline perspective on justification and other theological terminology embedded in Romans, then I believe those same people will struggle even more with Perriman’s work. Yet, I do believe this work should be considered a worthy voice in the evangelical scholarly world on Pauline studies and, particularly, studies in Romans.”