Contemporary scholarship remembers Charles Hodge more for his systematic theology than his biblical exposition. Nevertheless, his whole life was primarily devoted to the critical and systematic study of the Bible, and his entire theological method is eminently biblical. In fact, Charles Hodge taught in biblical studies for more than twenty years at Princeton Theological Seminary before he was transferred, reluctantly, to the theological department. Hodge’s theology is rooted in his exposition of scripture; not the philosophical schemes and cultural whims that informed the vast majority of theological reflection in the nineteenth century.
In his commentary on Romans, Hodge introduces the book by discussing the authorship, dating, and setting of the epistle. He also devotes attention to the nature of the original audience, with particular emphasis on the historical and theological context of the church in Rome and the role of Jews in the Roman Empire—fundamental issues which comprise the backdrop of Pauline theology.
The entire volume contains verse-by-verse commentary on each chapter of Romans. Hodge examines both the Greek text and his own English translation, which means that this commentary—like all the commentaries in this collection—are as useful to New Testament scholars as they are accessible to laypersons. He concludes his commentary on each chapter with a summary of the key doctrinal points and their relevance for exegesis and interpretation.
Charles Hodge counts as one of the most influential theologians of the nineteenth century and one of Calvinism’s most ardent defenders in America. He was born in 1797 in Philadelphia to Hugh and Mary Hodge. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) in 1815, and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1821. In 1822, at the request of Archibald Alexander, he became a professor at Princeton, and taught biblical literature and systematic theology until 1878. From 1826 to 1828, Hodge also studied in Europe, and became acquainted with Friedrich Augustus Tholuck, Wilhelm Gesenius, Augustus Neander, and Friedrich Schleiermacher.
During his tenure at Princeton, Hodge instructed more than three thousand ministers, served as moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly in 1846, helped revise the Presbyterian Church’s Book of Discipline, and served on the Board of Foreign Missions. He also founded the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review and served as its editor for forty-three years. In addition to his systematic theology and four Bible commentaries, Hodge also wrote books on the Presbyterian Church and published numerous articles.
Charles Hodge died on June 19, 1878. Among his last words: “To be absent from the body is to be with the Lord, to be with the Lord is to see the Lord, to see the Lord is to be like him.”