A debut work of theology offers a poetic commentary to Paul’s most famous epistle.
Paul’s letter to the Romans is the longest and perhaps the most important of the so-called Pauline epistles. It’s also one of the ones generally considered to have actually been written by the apostle himself. Composed while Paul was in Greece and directed to the growing Christian community in Rome, the epistle lays out the doctrine of the new faith based on salvation through Jesus. “One word is descriptive / of this tome,” writes Yapuncich in his introduction. “RIGHTEOUSNESS / Righteousness is God’s / own perfection / In every attribute / In every attitude / In every behavior / In every word / A righteousness based not / on our own efforts / But on what God has done / for us in sending his Son.” The piece is a notably complex and difficult work, with many passages that are open to interpretation. Luckily for readers, the author is here to analyze them. Taking the epistle verse by verse (and there are over 400 of them), Yapuncich provides his own poetic explanations for Paul’s prose sentences. Each chapter is at first presented in full without commentary so readers can grasp the complete context. Then each verse is repeated individually, followed by about one page of the author’s lineated notes. Yapuncich’s free verse has a rhythm that should remind readers a bit of slam poetry, and he manages to achieve moments of real lyricism: “They suck up sin / Welter in wickedness / Profess to be wise / Sit at feet of professors / Other learned men / Whose breath is spiritual poison / Idolize hog-sty doctrines / Counting themselves wise.” But often, the author’s need to express ideas in precise (and often bulky) theological language mostly robs the verses of a true semblance of poetry. Even so, Yapuncich manages to make his points with clarity as well as brevity, and readers should genuinely have a greater grasp of the material after perusing his commentary. The format is admittedly strange, and the author is working from a conservative Protestant tradition of interpretation. But Bible students looking for an alternative to scholastic prose commentaries should appreciate Yapuncich’s poetic criticisms.
A lucid, poetic explication of the verses in Romans.