Paul’s Letter to the Romans and Roman Imperialism: An Ideological Analysis of the Exordium (Romans 1:1-17)

By Ian E. Rock

A new reading of First Romans as an anti-imperial missive, revealing the complex interplay between theology and ideology.

ISBN: 9780227176450


Ian E. Rock demonstrates that the Letter to the Romans may be seen as an attempt by a subordinate group to redress actual and potential issues of confrontation with the Empire and to offer hope, even in the face of death. Paul demonstrates that it is God’s peace and not Rome’s peace that is important; that loyalty to the exalted Jesus as Lord and to the kingdom of God – not Jupiter and Rome – leads to salvation; that grace flows from Jesus as Christ and Lord and not from the benefactions of the Emperor. If the resurrection of Jesus – the crucified criminal of the Roman Empire – demonstrates God’s power over the universe and death, the very instrument of Roman control, then the Christ-believer is encouraged to face suffering and death in the hope of salvation through this power. Paul’s theology emerges from, and is inextricably bound to, the politics of his day, the Scriptures of his people, and to the critical fact that the God who is One and Lord of all is still in charge of the world.

Additional information

Dimensions254 × 178 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

The Revd Dr Ian E. Rock is the Principal of Codrington College, the Seminary of the Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies.


Foreword by John W. D. Holder
List of Abbreviations


1. Ideology, Theology, and Rhetoric
2. The Historical Context and its Ideological Relevance
3. The Argument and Style of the Exordium and Propositio of Romans 1:1-17
4. The Ideological Implications of the Key Titles in the Epistolary Prescript (Rom 1:1-7): Jesus Christ and Son of God
5. The Ideological Implications of the Key Terms in the Epistolary Prescript (Rom 1:1-7): Peace and Grace
6. The Ideological Implications of Key Terms in the Propositio (Rom 1:16-17)
7. The Implications of the Epistolary Prescript for the Exegesis of Romans 1-5; 6-8
8. The Implications of the Epistolary Prescript for the Exegesis of Romans 9-11: Israel and Rome
9. Conclusion

Appendix: Table Showing Some Parallels between Romans and Wisdom of Solomon

Index of Ancient Documents
Index of Authors


Endorsements and Reviews

A model of what exegesis must be in a global, postmodern world. Ian Rock’s remarkable study of Romans 1:1-17 (and 9-11) makes explicit its analytical/textual frame (a rigorous historical critical/political and rhetorical exegesis), its contextual frame (Rock’s experience of the interaction of imperialism and religion in the Caribbean and in Rome), and its hermeneutical/ideological frame (striking theological insights in Paul’s letter).
Dr Daniel Patte, Professor of Religious Studies, New Testament and Early Christianity, Vanderbilt University

By means of an ideological analysis of the exordium (Rom1:1-17), Ian Rock demonstrates that the issues between Jew and Gentile arising from the arrival of the Christ-movement in first-century Rome concerned more than intercommunal conflicts. … Rock offers a challenging reinterpretation of Romans that combines careful exegesis, theological and ideological competence, and a concern for context aided by his own Caribbean insights – an excellent study that uses a close analysis of the exordium to support the unity and integrity of the letter.
Dr William S. Campbell, Reader in Biblical Studies in the School of Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David

This is a stimulating in-depth analysis of the opening passage of Romans that triggers a wave of insights into the whole letter. Its hermeneutical rigor in the conscious location of thought both in the twenty-first-century Caribbean world as well as in the first-century Roman-dominated world offers a political reading of Romans that will lead to important further discussion in the academy and beyond.
Dr Kathy Ehrensperger, Reader in New Testament Studies in the School of Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David