The Voice of Romans (review)

2 February 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

The Voice of Romans: The Gospel According to Paul

I‘m new to this series, but since I’m speaking from the Book of Romans this coming Sunday (weather permitting) I was deeply curious how Chris Seay approached the text.

The Voice is a series of books designed to rediscover the story of the Bible” by presenting each book in present-day language. So far I have seen only selected books from the New Testament and Psalms, though my understanding is that they plan on producing the entire New Testament canon.

The project has a long list of scholars associated with it (though it is unclear to me their exact level of involvement), including guys like Darrel L. Bock, Peter H. Davids and Tremper Longman.

On the creative end, you have an even longer list of names including Chris Seay (author of The Gospel According to Lost and The Gospel According to Tony Soprano), Donald Miller and Brian McLaren. While many of these authors are associated with the controversy of the emerging church movement, I can find no such baggage within the pages of the text, only a determination to deliver God’s message with clarity and creativity.

To that end, Chris Seay joins with David B. Capes (professor of Greek and New Testament studies at Houston Baptist University) and Kelly Hall (author and poet). The result is a book that stays true to the text while embracing a more contemporary style and vocabulary.

There is a brief commentary that accompanies each chapter of the text. The commentary is generally accurate, though the authors tend to dodge some of the more complex issues (such as election in Romans 9). Which isn’t really a bad thing – it may even prevent newer believers from getting lost in the details, and there are plenty of good commentaries on Romans to draw from.

The style and aim of this book does not differ that markedly from Eugene Peterson’s The Message, though in some places I felt the approach was slightly more “conversational” than Peterson’s work. At the same time, I found myself wondering what purpose the book might serve me personally other than having a paraphrase sitting on the shelf, which I might glance through once or twice a year.

Still, the book serves its purpose. Those struggling with the complexity of the Book of Romans may find this approach refreshing, and it would be a handy resource for church leaders to use with new believers (possibly in a Bible study setting).

To that end, I have to say that any project that seeks to put the Bible in the hands of people and encourages them to read it is a good thing. I’d like to personally see more from this series in the future.

I got a used copy on Amazon for $1.99. If you’re looking for a resource to use with people immediately, I’d recommend it. Those looking for a contemporary paraphrase to have on the shelf to glance at now and then might want to wait for a final, bound collection.

2 February 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Chris is a writer and speaker. He currently serves as teaching pastor at Tri-State Fellowship and as a research writer for Docent Research Group.

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