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Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Globalization. Homelessness. Ecological and economic crisis. Conflicts over sexuality. Violence. These crisis-level issues may seem unique to our times, but Paul's Letter to the Romans has something to say to all of them.

Following their successful Colossians Remixed, Sylvia Keesmaat and Brian Walsh unpack the meaning of Romans for its original context and for today. The a
Paperback, 412 pages
Published May 21st 2019 by Brazos Press
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Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Good: Keesmaat and Walsh’s overarching argument about home is, on the whole, interesting and in some places compelling. After reading this book, I’ve found my reading of other New Testament texts enriched by their arguments on this point, and believe it may prove to be fruitful given further discussion, especially in light of the church being described as “the family of God”. As a Canadian, I also appreciated seeing—for the first time—theological reflection in a popular level biblical studie ...more
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But this really digs into Paul’s book as an anti-imperial text and helps put it into the context of the Roman church. It really provoked me several times to think more deeply about the radical changes I should be willing to make in my life to be anti-imperial and follow in the way of Jesus. I was especially touched by the way they connected Romans to environmental justice and work for indigenous people. In North America we are deeply invested in injustice to ...more
Katie Cheng
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
This one took me forever to finish because it is DENSE. And some of the organizational choices got in the way of clarity for me. BUT:

This study of Paul’s letter to the Romans has breathed fresh hope into my faith. The authors reveal, through close lexical and historical study, how this letter is anti-imperial. It is a decidedly pointed critique of a Roman empire that bears striking resemblance to the American empire today — one predicated on greed and consumption, with injustice construed as a n
Laura-Lee Rahn
I SO wanted to like this book. I was on Hold at the library for weeks to get it AND my library app tells me there are several more waiting for it now, so I'll try and keep this brief. (Especially for me)

Romans Disarmed starts by depicting a situation where a group of Christians are meeting and dancing with extreme joy. One person suddenly is overcome with his personal grief and is enveloped by the Community of Believers who wish to "Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn."
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What if the prophet’s words were possible?

They shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more (Isaiah 2:4)

What if these prophetic words from the opening chapters of Isaiah were true for individuals, yes; for nations, absolutely; but also for theologians, preachers, and pastors? What if those in positions of authority—those who teach and interpret the biblical witness on others’ be
Margaret D'Anieri
I’d give this 6 stars if I could - a book that fundamentally opened new readings of Scripture that put Paul alongside the gospels’ preferential option for the poor, and made Romans relevant in ways I never ever imagined.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I actually think this book would be better off with the title: "Readers Disarmed." This is not an easy, fluffy read, which most of the things I read aren't but this book can be jarring because of the writing style and the way the authors chose to approach the conversation going on in the book.

Even if you are familiar with the Book of Romans, this is such a departing from the standard reading that it might take you some time to comprehend what you are reading. This is definitely not a book that
Glendon Frank
Oct 24, 2022 rated it liked it
Gonna have to start busting out the 100-point rating scale that one guy on Letterboxd uses because rating a book out of five stars is an impossible venture.

Romans Disarmed is a hard book to talk about because, on a fundamental level, I agree with everything Keesmaat and Walsh are arguing, but their argumentation itself leaves a lot to be desired and I doubt will convince many who aren't already at least partially on their side. In truth, I'm not sure that's the goal - the reviews here reveal tha
Chris Wermeskerch
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I had the privilege of previewing this from NetGalley, so this is review is all my own. I say that to note how conflicted I am on this book. Melding imaginative targum-esque readings of Romans alongside exegesis of the Greek, Keesmaat blends familiar Greek terms with a new reading of Romans from the margins. This isn't a book to be picked up and read without being willing to work, wrestle, and learn alongside the writer and their imagined conversation partner. Romans is a very familiar text, but ...more
Nikayla Reize
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Such an important book! The authors live on a permaculture farm and don't have social media....they're the real deal! ...more
Paul C.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
I was excited to receive my copy of Romans Disarmed, although I did not recognize the authors, Sylvia Keesmaat and Brian Walsh, both Bible professors. The design alone is outstanding. Romans, a very complicated document, has suffered much at the hands of interpreters. Some appeal to it to say that Christians should never protest against injustice rooted in one’s government (this is the position of John MacArthur whose huge following makes him somewhat of a celebrity pastor). Other times scattere ...more
Frank Peters
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
While I was greatly looking forward to this book, it ended up being a disappointment. I agree with the vast majority of the book, but it was the remainder that was disturbing to me. Walsh’s previous book: “Subversive Christianity” is one of my favourites in the way he challenges the way that people should live, while under empire. This focus continued into this book, and I was initially completely on board. What I found disturbing is that the authors seemed to be blind to their own advice and te ...more
Adam Metz
Aug 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I never have gotten around to reading Keesmaat's and Walsh's previous commentary Colossians Remixed that I heard so much about after its publication, but was glad to finally get to dig into this one on Romans that has been on my shelf for a couple of years. It's really unlike any commentary I've ever read. While rigorously academic and heavily researched, the authors manage to infuse creativity and imagination throughout. From the outset they acknowledge that they are not setting out to redefine ...more
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This book took me a bit to get into and then I progressed slowly...more due to COVID world and my focus than to the nature of the book. I appreciated the targum update the authors tried to give to make the book applicable to 21st Century North American culture. I also appreciated the effort to include "conversations" with those who might question parts of the book and with those who might have read Paul's letter to the Romans back when he originally sent it; however, these same elements could al ...more
Trevor Atwood
The only way to engage honestly with people who differ from us theologically or otherwise, is to understand their best arguments, not their worst.

Keesmat and Walsh do a thorough in depth treatment of the book of Romans from an ideological position that differs from mine in many points. I take issue many times with their hermeneutic and application and often argued with them in them margins.

However, my own hermeneutic was equally challenged and my applications broadened. Understanding Romans as
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am reviewing this in another context and won't put my whole review here. For fans of Colossians Remixed, will see the same sort of imaginative investigation of Paul here. Keesmat and Walsh pay attention to both the world behind the text, the Roman Empire, and the context of American (and Canadian) Empire. They extend their critique of Empire to include, exploitation and class, idolatry and creation care, economic justice, the way Paul's vision subverts the political order (so no shallow readin ...more
Kristina Knight
I really, really wanted to like this book. I believe that the epistle to the Romans has been weaponized and misinterpreted in severely problematic ways, and I agree with the authors' framework that Romans is instead intended to be a politically subversive text about homecoming and covenantal love. However, this book was so convoluted and strangely organized that I don't think I would ultimately feel comfortable recommending it to anyone. Even as a more progressive believer, the agenda-heaviness ...more
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Lots to take away from this book, but it's far longer than necessary and sometimes the argument stretches thin. I wish it were two books – one focused tightly on Romans, and another that explores the themes of homecoming and justice across the whole Bible, where the supporting evidence is stronger and more explicit. I'm more or less behind the targums politically, but (like many other modern "re-writings" of the Bible) found them uninspiring poetically. My favourite parts were the early chapters ...more
Steve Watson
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful imagination of how Romans' good news message of liberation from empire could speak to our imperial, oppressive world today. Not a traditional commentary, but a work of poetry and justice and thematic exploration that builds off excellent scholarship that situates Romans within its mid-first century, multiethnic Roman milieu.

"What happens if we read Paul's letter to the Christian house churches in Rome as something akin to a call to disarm the empire? What happens if we read this lett
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you have ever been disheartened at the way scripture is co-opted by Christians in positions of power to hold down others, this book is essential reading. I love the way it paints a picture of the context of Paul’s letter, who rather than giving a purely abstract theological statement, was actually writing to a fledgling church at the heart of the Empire, to bring them good news that would turn their world upside down.
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I've read a number of books on Romans and took a graduate course with one of its leading scholars, and this books is simply one of the best. I will return to it, recommend it to people in my congregation, and likely form a reading group to work through its important material. If you are interested in understanding Paul and the message of the scriptures, then this is a must read. ...more
Pamela Adams
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Here is a book for you to find out how to be a Christian while resisting the empire of the material world. I really enjoyed the targums of Scripture and the advise about being someone who refuses to fit in with the cultural expectations of the world.
Nov 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Probably the most engaging Biblical studies book I've ever read. Blend of targum, fiction and an interlocutor make it a fun book to read. Loved the engagement with the Canadian contemporary context as well. However I'm not sure how convinced I am by their (at times provocative) arguments. ...more
Corey Herlevsen
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A comprehensive and exhaustive examination of Romans as a lament and as a counter imperial manifesto. This is truly a life changing, worldview changing book. I cannot recommend it highly enough but be warned: It names names and is not for the faint of heart.
Jeremy Doan
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best theological commentaries I've read. I wish that most of my Christian siblings would read it, and that it'd help them understand what words of hope and hospitality Paul has for us today. ...more
Daniel Harding
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Forthright in their challenging of atypical readings of Romans. Discombobulated in some of their structure, as it became singularly repetitive. A necessary read.
Jon Anderson
Read for Sunday School - Fall 2019
Jeremy Duncan
rated it it was amazing
Dec 12, 2021
Christopher Brown
rated it really liked it
Jul 16, 2020
Georgia Vinson
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