Romans is one of the key epistles and the first Pauline letter in the New Testament. It is primarily a theoogical document and is therefore fundamental to the formation of Christian belief. Written by Paul as he prepared to visit Rome for the first time, it is a thoughtful letter to a well-established community whose faith and religious habits have become widely known and whom he regards with some reverence.
Romans is a rich book from a biblical studies and theological point of view. In it, Paul makes his declaration that a person is justified by faith rather than works, a view which became of critical importance in the Reformation. His discussion of the role of the Law versus faith marked an important turning point in the disjuncture between Christianity and Judaism. Despite this, Paul argues that salvation is available for everyone, and identifies Abraham as the father of both Judaism and Christianity, linking the religions in one trajectory.
The cultural impact of Romans has been immense. During the Reformation, Romans was drawn on extensively by Luther in his attack on the Catholic Church. In later centuries, it was tremendously influential on major theologians such as Karl Barth. In art and literature, the theology of Romans has influenced many fine works of art including many depicting the Christ child sitting in Abraham's lap; and the division between love and the law is the bedrock of plays such as The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, and Kafka's The Trial. Many expressions from Romans have entered the English language ('hoping against hope') and been incorporated into popular hymns, especially those penned by the Wesleys. This volume will explore all the major influences of Romans in social, political, theological and cultural life.