Romans 1: Notes and Reflections, by James E. Faulconer, is the inaugural volume in FARMSs new Ancient Texts and Mormon Studies series. The aim of this series is to explain the historical origins and purposes of ancient religious texts and to show their main points of value to modern religious readers. Like forthcoming volumes in the series, Romans 1 includes the ancient text, a readable English translation, and general commentary.
Although the series will cater primarily to working scholars, Romans 1 has a wider appeal. Faulconer explains in the preface that he wrote the book in response to two concerns: the book of Romans can be difficult to understand, and it is used more than any other biblical book to challenge LDS doctrine. When we understand Romans, it is obvious that not only need we not fear having others discuss Pauls teachings, but we can use those very teachings to teach the truthfulness of the gospel understood through latter-day revelation, he writes. When understood correctly, Romans and the Book of Mormon teach the same things.
In commenting on Romans 1 verse by verse, Faulconer touches on such topics as faith, holiness, obedience, service to Christ, personal conversion and repentance, and becoming true saints. Concerning the latter, Faulconer writes: There is more to being a saint, to taking Christs name upon ourselves, than membership in the formal organization of the church. We become saints by being called and set apart for God's purposes, and we remain saints by striving to meet the obligation of purity that such a calling entails....We can become pure only through Jesus Christ."
Faulconer explains that because the first chapter of Romans sets the stage for the rest of Paul's epistle, it is important for understanding the book of Romans as a whole. His notes and commentary are both detailed and per-sonal, containing helpful insights into linguistic and cultural matters but also including ideas developed during his personal study. "My efforts are intended to stimulate thinking and conversation about Romans," he notes.
Romans 1: Notes and Reflections can be a valuable tool for those who are studying the book of Romans or looking for new ways to study other scripture. By sharing numerous insights and details about Romans 1, Faulconer models the kind of in-depth examination and reflection that facilitates understanding and appreciation of any scriptural text.