The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Jan 25, 2020

Facilitating a class-wide "rolling review" of John Barclay's Paul and the Gift

Once every four years I have the incredible privilege of teaching "Reading and Syntax in Romans" here at Baptist Theological Seminary (Menomonee Falls, WI). Since the last time I have taught it, I was privileged to have an article published in Bibliotheca Sacra (on "Israel and Her Vocation" in Romans 11; see BibSac vol. 176.701, March 2019), and I have completed my own personal study of both the "righteousness of God" theme and the meaning of "out of faith-into faith" in Romans 1:17 (I highly recommend the articles by Charles Quarles and John Taylor in Novum Testamentum and New Testament Studies, respectively).

More importantly, since the last time I taught the class, a significant new book has been published, John M. G. Barclay's Paul and the Gift (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2017). I remember how the blogosphere was abuzz when it first came out, and it has quickly solidified itself as one of the most significant books on Pauline theology in decades. I have been reading it (almost done) and have benefited greatly from it, even while not always agreeing with everything it says. The book is, essentially, a very helpful look at the various ideas of "grace/gift" in ancient Greco-Roman and Jewish society, and in what ways the Apostle Paul's epistles (specifically Galatians and Romans) reflect or differ from the ancient perspective, and how Paul incorporates the concept of the "Christ-gift" into his theology. Especially significant is how Barclay discusses the various "perfections" of the concept behind what constitutes a "gift" or "grace" (Greek Charis) and how these may differ among ancient authors.

Consequently, I have decided to incorporate this book into my Romans class; not as the textbook, of course (Douglas Moo's 2nd edition NICNT still retains its special place, though I was also very appreciative of Richard Longenecker's recent NIGTC on Romans). Rather, I will require my students to do a "rolling review" of the book in class.

Here's what I mean by a "rolling review." I will have two copies of Paul and the Gift floating amongst the students (my own copy and our library's copy). Each student (I have 9) is assigned a certain number of pages in the book, and a certain date on which to present on the pages they read and thus facilitate class discussion. Since obviously we do not have time for all the students to read the whole book, each student is required to produce a handout when they present, summarizing the portion of the book they read. This way each student can build off of the previous student's work as we seek to analyze and discuss Barclay's significant contribution to Paul's theology in Romans.

This is an experiment; I've never done a "rolling review" before in class (and I cut out the weekly quizzes from the syllabus to make room for this), but I'm excited about the possibilities!