Wow! This is an excellent commentary. Talbert draws *heavily* on intertestamental and extra-canonical materials, including relatively recent discoveries such as the Qumran documents, and presents ample historical and cultural material, to give the reader a feel for the kind of context that Paul’s audience would have had. The word studies are also excellent and accessible to those with no background in Greek. The approach to the text is contextual, structural, and topical: rather than proceeding strictly verse by verse, questions and issues are dealt with as they arise. The result is remarkably readable and accessible, considering how comprehensive it also is.
When there are differences of opinion among scholars, the various positions are presented and discussed before concluding that one of them is correct. Modern and contemporary as well as ancient sources are consulted, including respected writers from Christian traditions other than his own. Supplementary material is presented in sidebars, and includes art, illustrations, and poetry as well as historical background and quotations from patristic and Reformation writers. (This arrangement of the material is characteristic of the series of which this commentary is a part.)
Doctrinal and catechetical discussions, when they arise from the text, are generally collected in the sections marked “Connections”, which is helpful both to the baptist reader who is looking for guidance and the non-baptist reader who wishes to read such material with a certain care.
I’m working with a dozen commentaries on Romans this summer, and this one is hands-down the best in terms of both in-depth background material and accessibility. (And I didn’t even look at the CD it comes with!)
If you’re looking to understand Paul’s letter to the Romans in the world behind the text, get this commentary.