ICS Calendar Title: Reading Romans in the Shadow of Empire

ICS Course Code: ICS 150205/250205 S16

Instructor: Dr. Sylvia C. Keesmaat

Term and Year: July 11-15, 2016 [On-Campus Summer Intensive]

Last Updated: June 2, 2016.

1. Course Description

2. Reading Schedule

3. Course Learning Goals

4. Course Requirements and Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

5. Required Readings

6. Some Recommended Readings

1. Course Description

Paul’s letter to the Romans is seen by many as the centrepiece of his epistles, providing a summary of his theology and the key to his thought. We will, however, read Romans as a thoroughly situational letter, written to communities shaped by the culture and beliefs of imperial Rome, struggling not only with their own social contexts, but also with the place of Judeans and the story of Israel in their midst. The social status of the believing communities in Rome, as well as the social dislocation of many residents of Rome will provide a context for reading Romans from below, as a letter to communities struggling with what it means to be faithful in a context of slavery, poverty and violent distrust of the stranger.

This course will be offered as a one week intensive consisting of lecture and student-led seminars based on course readings. Students will be evaluated based on participation, seminar leadership, reflection paper, and a 12-15 (BD) or 18-20 (AD) page paper.

2. Reading Schedule

For the reading list in approximate order of class discussion, please go the section Required Readings.

Day 1:

Introduction: The Story of Rome and the Story of Israel; Hermeneutical Issues; Romans 16 and Reading from Below

Day 2:

Reading Romans: The Shape of the Letter and chapters 1-8: Idolatry, Creational Groaning and the Imperial Economy

Day 3:

Reading Romans, chapters 4, 9-11: Whose Story? Aeneas, Abraham and Israel

Day 4:

Reading Romans chapters 12-15: Imperial Honour, Violence, and the State versus a Community of Welcoming Generosity

Day 5:

Reading Romans into the future. The letters as a whole and the believing community then and now.

3. Course Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. discern the central themes of Paul’s letter to the Romans and its relation to the context of the Roman believers in order to articulate the theology and rhetorical impact of the letter.
  2. situate this letter in the context of first century imperial culture, myth and social structure, as well as within the scriptures of Israel so as to discern the complex negotiation of this letter in relation to both imperial realities and first century Judaisms.
  3. situate this letter in relation to Paul’s other letters and the history of first century Christianity as a whole.
  4. constructively and creatively discern how Paul’s engagement with imperial realities in the first century illuminates contemporary believer interactions with our own imperial realities.

4. Course Requirements and Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

  1. Completion of readings and the ability to discuss them in a seminar context.
  2. Participation in class seminars.
  3. One short reflection paper, five pages long
  4. One research paper, 12-15 pages (basic degree) or 18-20 pages (advanced degree).
  5. Description and weighting of elements to be evaluated:
  1. Class participation: 20%
  2. Reflection paper: 30%
  3. Research Project/Paper: 50%

5. Required Readings

A note on the required readings: I recommend that all the readings be done prior to the week of class.

It is recommended that students purchase the books by Hays, Horsley and Oakes, even though we will not be reading the entire book. They are excellent resources for further study on Romans and on Paul in general.

When reading in advance for the course you should take notes, note down any questions that you have about the text, as well as any disagreements or points of agreement or convergence. This will aid in your review of the material before we discuss it in class.

Reading list (in approximate order of class discussion):

Baker, Mark D. and J. Ross Wagner, “Reading Romans in Hurricane-Ravaged Honduras: A Model of Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Conversation” Missiology: An International Review, Vol. XXXII, No. 3, (July 2004), 367-383. Reprinted in Navigating Romans Through Cultures: Challenging Readings by Charting a New Course ed. By Yeo Khiok-khng (K.K.). (T&T Clark, 2004) pp. 95-112. (available from the professor ; UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7735444)

Richard A. Horsley, ed., Paul and Empire: Religion and Power in Roman Imperial Society. (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1997). (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BR 170 .P38 1997 ; UofT Libraries, Victoria University Emmanuel College  Library: BR170 .P38 1997)

        The following essays:

        Richard Horsley, “The Gospel of Imperial Salvation: Introduction”, pp. 10-24;

        S.R.F. Price, “Rituals and Power”, pp. 47-71;

        Paul Zanker, “The Power of Images”, pp. 72-86;

        Richard Horsley, “Patronage, Priesthoods and Power: Introduction”, pp. 88-93;

        Peter Garnsey and Richard Saller, “Patronal Power Relations”, pp. 96-103;

        Richard Gordon: “The Veil of Power”, pp. 126-137;

        Neil Elliott, “Romans 13.1-7 in the Context of Imperial Propaganda”, pp. 184-204.

Sylvia C. Keesmaat and Brian J. Walsh, Romans Disarmed (Brazos Press, forthcoming). (available in instalments by the professor, with the first five chapters available in mid-June)

Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989, Chapter two (pp. 34-83).

(ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS 2655 .R32 H39 ; UofT Libraries, Victoria University Emmanuel College: BS 2655 .R32 H39 1989)

Steven J. Friesen, “Poverty in Pauline Studies: Beyond the So-Called New Consensus” JSNT 26.3 (2004) 323-361. (available from the professor ; UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7722366)

Peter Oakes, Reading Romans in Pompeii: Paul’s Letter at Ground Level. Minneapolis/London: Fortress/SPCK, 2009, Chapters 3-6 (pp 69-179).

(ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS 2665.52 .O18 2009 ; UofT Libraries Regis, Robarts, Trinity: BS 2665.52 .O18 2009)

Wagner, J. Ross. Heralds of the Good News: Isaiah and Paul in Concert in the Letter to the Romans. Leiden: Brill, 2003, pp. 341-359. (available from the professor ; UofT Libraries Robarts Library:  BS2665.52 .W34 2003)

6. Some Recommended Readings

Karl, P. Donfried, ed., The Romans Debate. Revised and Expanded Edition. Peabody, Mass.: Henrickson, 1991. (UofT Libraries, Knox, Regis, Trinity: BS 2665.2 .R65 1991)

Neil Elliott, The Arrogance of Nations: Reading Romans in the Shadow of Empire. Paul in Critical Contexts. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS 2665.52 .E45 2008 ; UofT Libraries, Knox, Regis, Robarts: BS 2665.52 .E45 2008)

Reta Haltemann Finger. Roman House Churches Today: A Practical Guide for Small Groups. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2007. 2nd Ed. (UofT Libraries, Robarts: BS 2665.5 .F56 2007)

Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS 2655 .R32 H39 ; UofT Libraries, Victoria University Emmanuel College: BS 2655 .R32 H39 1989)

Richard A. Horsley, ed., Paul and Empire: Religion and Power in Roman Imperial Society. Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1997. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BR 170 .P38 1997 ; UofT Libraries, Victoria University Emmanuel College  Library: BR170 .P38 1997)

Robert Jewett, Romans. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS 2665.53 J49 2007)

Keesmaat, Sylvia C. “If Your Enemy is Hungry: Love and Subversive Politics in Romans 12-13.” Pages 141-158 in Character Ethics and the New Testament: Moral Dimensions of Scripture. Edited by Robert L. Brawley. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2007. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS 2361.3 .C43 2007)

_______. “Land, Idolatry and Justice in Romans,” in Conception, Reception and the Spirit: Essays in Honour of Andrew T. Lincoln ed. J. Gordon McConville and Lloyd J. Pietersen. Eugene, Ore.: Cascade Books, 2015, 90-103. (ICS Library Reserve: BS 511.3 .M433 2015)

______. “The Psalms in Romans and Galatians.” Pages 139-161 in The Psalms in the New Testament. Edited by Steve Moyise and Maarten J. J. Menken. New York: T&T Clark, 2004. (Robarts, Victoria: BS 2387 .P78 2004)

Sylvia C. Keesmaat, “Reading Romans in the Capital of the Empire” in Reading Paul’s Letter to the Romans ed. by Jerry L. Sumney (Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2012) 47-64. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS 2665.52 .R43 2012)

Peter Oakes, “Constructing Poverty Scales for Graeco-Roman Society: A Response to Steven Friesen’s ‘Poverty in Pauline Studies’” JSNT 26.3 (2004): 367-71. (UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7722366 )

Price, S.R. F. Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: DG 124 .P74 1986)

Jerry Sumney, ed., Reading Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2012. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS 2665.52 .R43 2012)

Wengst, Klaus. Pax Romana and the Peace of Jesus Christ. Translated by John Bowden. London: SCM, 1987. (UofT Libraries: Victoria University, Emmanuel College: BT 736.4 .W4413 ; Robarts: BT 736.4 .W3913 ; St. Michaels: BR 170 .W413)

Wright, N.T. “New Exodus, New Inheritance: the Narrative Substructure of Romans 3-8” in Romans and the People of God: Essays In Honour of Gordon D. Fee on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, ed S. Sonderland and N.T. Wright. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999, 26-35. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BS 2665.2 .R63 1999 ; UofT Libraries, Robarts: BS 2665.2 .R63 1999X ; Knox College:  BS 2665.2 .R63 1999)

Wright, N.T. “The Letter to the Romans: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections.” NIB 10 (1994): 393-770. (UofT Libraries, Knox, Robarts, St. Michaels, Trinity, Victoria: BS 491.2 .N484 1994 v.10)

Sze-kar Wan, “Collection for the Saints as Anticolonial Act: Implications of Paul’s Ethnic Reconstruction” in Paul and Politics: Ekklesia, Israel, Imperium, Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Krister Stendhal, ed. Richard A. Horsley. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International 2000,   . (ICS Library: BS 2655 .P64 P38 2000 ; UofT Libraries, Victoria University, Emmanuel College: BS2655 .P64 H67 2000)

Zanker, Paul. The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus. Translated by Alan Shapiro. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988. (ICS Library Reserve Shelf: N 5760 .Z36 1988)

Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or Student Services as soon as possible.


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