Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan: An Urgent Paraphrase of Paul’s Letter to the Romans by Adam S. Miller [PDF]

What follows is not a translation in the ordinary sense of the word. It’s more like a paraphrase. Rather than worry over the letter of the text, the goal has been to illuminate the large scale patterns that structure it. The King James Version, for instance, renders Paul’s letter with uncanny beauty but is opaque as an argument. Modern translations tend to have the same problem. Their overriding concern is with the letter of the text, not with its logic. As a result, Paul’s forest is always getting sacrificed for the sake of his trees. But Paul’s work is too important, his good news too urgent, to leave so much of him locked in the first century. We need our renderings to do more than mimic the original, we need them to bleed and breathe. This work argues that the deep logic of Romans comes into sharp focus around a single premise: Paul’s claim that grace is not God’s backup plan. Paul never quite puts it like this, but he implies it at every turn.

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