An Existential Interpretation of Paul's Letter to the Romans
{first edition, 1983}

Romans: An Existential Interpretation
{short title for second edition, 1991}

Romans Demythologized: An Existential Interpretation
{third edition, 200?}

An Existential Interpretation of

Paul's Letter to the Romans

by James Park

(Minneapolis, MN: Existential, 1991—second edition)
80 pages plus a 16-page appendix on existential guilt
(Library of Congress call number: BS2665.2.P37 1991)
(ISBN: 0-89231-201-7—large format paperback—8.5 X 11 inches)
(ISBN: 0-89231-200-9—small format paperback—8.5 X 5.5 inches)

    Our Existential Predicament is not an invention of the 20th century,
altho existential philosophy and psychology of the 19th and 20th century
have brought our Existential or Spiritual Malaise into new focus.
The earliest recorded awareness of our Spiritual Dilemma
is  found in the letters of Paul,
written 2000 years ago and collected in the New Testament.

    James Park gives a careful analysis to Paul's most important letter
—Romans—searching for the existential meanings
often hidden in the language and images Paul uses,
and which have become so familiar at least to Christians
that they have lost most of their original meaning.

    Paul's basic message is the we are caught in a Predicament
from which we cannot release ourselves.
But emancipation from our Spiritual Dilemma or Spiritual Malaise
is possible as a gift—if we discover how to re-orient ourselves.

    'Sin' and 'death' are two of the most important
perspectives Paul uses to view our inner Predicament.
In this interpretation 'sin' does not mean misbehaving;
rather, Paul points to a sense of guilt much deeper than behavior
—an existential or spiritual guilt, which is independent of morality.

    Likewise, when Paul speaks of 'death',
he is not referring merely to a biological process that ends life.
Rather he is pointing toward what modern philosophers
have described as being-towards-death or ontological anxiety.

    Some other powerful Christian concepts
are given a similar existential interpretation:
grace, expiation-sacrifice, justification, redemption,
forgiveness, baptism, new self, adoption, grafting-in.
Describing how we re-orient ourselves
to move from our Spiritual Malaise to Spiritual Freedom
is one of the most difficult tasks of the Christian thinker.
Paul used every image and metaphor that came into his head.
Romans: An Existential Interpretation
(the short title for the second edition)
makes the transformation described by Paul in the first century
intelligible for the careful reader of the 21st century. 

    This book follows the approach of
existential theologian and New Testament scholar,
Rudolf Bultmann, who attempted to uncover
the personal, existential meanings of New Testament mythology.
This is perhaps the only book of "demythologizing"
that explores the text line-by-line, myth-by-myth, image-by-image,
attempting to make Paul's thought intelligible for our time.
It shows how Paul—thinking as a first-century person—
was already aware of what we now call our Existential Predicament.
In fact, the chapter on existential guilt from
Our Existential Predicament is included as an appendix.

An Existential Interpretation of Paul's Letter to the Romans

1. Choose the format you prefer (the text is the same):

Small format paperback (8.5" X 5.5"); 96 pages:
$7.00 plus $2.00 postage and handling; ISBN: 0-89231-200-9.

Large format paperback (8.5" X 11"); 96 pages:
$10.00 plus $2.00 postage and handling: ISBN: 0-89231-201-7.

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More information available on the Internet:

Table of Contents

Copyright page

One page from Chapter 5

If you would like to attend a class based on this book
or undertake an independent study of it,
go to the Romans course descriptions .

Several other books on existential spirituality will be found in the
Existential Spirituality Bibliography .

Go to the beginning of this website
James Leonard Park—Free Library