Books, Commentaries, Old Testament, Reviews

Book Review: A Commentary on Judges and Ruth

A Commentary on Judges and Ruth by Robert B. Chisholm, Jr.

Kregel | Amazon | CBD

Thanks to the kind folks at Kregel for this review copy! I received this book free of charge in exchange for an unbiased review.

The question that is always asked when new commentaries appear is “Do we really need another commentary?” While at times I may be tempted to answer that question with a resound “NO!”, I quickly remind myself that interpretation of the biblical text is a complicated matter and with so many details to consider in any given text, it is always helpful to have different perspectives, if only different in minute ways.[1] One of the special challenges when dealing with biblical interpretation is that the fruit of said interpretation is often meant for the people of God, that they may benefit from the labors poured into the commentary. Of those who use commentaries, they typically fall into two categories and these depend on their level of training: those who need more technical commentaries, e.g., ICC, AB, WBC, and those who need/want less technical series, e.g., NICNT, Pillar, BECNT, NAC, etc. The dividing line between technical and non-technical commentaries is sometimes rather blurred (again, depending on the reader’s level of knowledge), but usually readers can decide fairly easily whether or not a commentary series or single volume is suitable for their purposes.

The Kregel Exegetical Library, which consists of a mere four volumes at present, represents yet another effort to bridge the gap that often exists between scholars and non-scholars. In this particular volume, noted OT scholar Bob Chisholm seeks to provide solid exegetical footing for those who will teach and preach the texts of Judges and Ruth by designing this volume “with pastors and teachers in mind” (13). But do not assume that Chisholm has skimped on the richness OT texts have to offer—far from it! Rather, Chisholm guides the reader through the difficult texts of these books and shows how the original audience would have understood them and how modern readers should understand and teach them. Chisholm provides the following questions that he states must be answered in the exposition of a text: what did it mean in its original ancient Israelite context, what theological principles emerge, and how is it relevant to the church? Reading through this volume one will see a number of features that guide the reader to this end.

The commentary begins predictably with an introductory section in which Chisholm orients the interpreter to the structure and primary themes of the book. Chisholm here covers issues that you would expect: literary themes, narrative structure, provenance, chronology, cultural context, and homiletical discussion. All together, nearly 100 pages (of the near 700 total) are devoted to these issues, so the interpretive ground is appropriately plowed before he gets to matters of the text. The commentary proper is well done and will find favor, not surprisingly with those who are more conservative in their theological bent, though Chisholm shows a deft hand when dealing with matters of ANE backgrounds and other pertinent factors. One of the things I appreciate about this commentary is the references to Hebrew are the actual terms, not transliterated forms as found in BECNT (which are unhelpful), for example. This, along with Chisholm’s grammatical-syntactical discussions (primarily relegated to the footnotes) will require knowledge of Hebrew in order to take full advantage of the commentary. This will likely dissuade some from referring to this work more frequently, but the overall quality of Chisholm’s work will certainly keep interpreters returning to its pages. As with Ross’ volumes in the series on the psalms (vol 1; vol 2), Chisholm’s contribution to the series shows that KEL will be a useful and quality series that pastors and students will want to keep at hand.

Αυτω η δοξα

[1] This does not imply that all commentaries are equal—indeed they are not!

Commentaries, Humor

Rarity

I was reading through Leon Morris’ commentary on Romans where I read something I’ve not encountered before in a work by a biblical studies scholar–he referred to something as “stupid.”

“It was stupid to think that, since the whole nation had not entered the blessing, the promise of God had failed.” (emphasis mine)

I bet Jim West has said as much in his works! 🙂

It was quite unexpected and quite funny!

What about you–what are some of the unexpected comments/statements you’ve come across in scholarly literature?

Αυτω η δοξα

Books, Commentaries, New Testament

Commentaries on Romans

I’m looking ahead to next semester (I’m not even finished with this one yet!) and I will be spending the semester working in Romans and Ephesians. I’ve got some good commentaries on both, but I am wondering what commentaries on Romans you would recommend? I have Cranfield’s 2 volumes in the ICC (required) in the cart, but I would am going to add another–what say ye?

Looking forward to your suggestions.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Books, Commentaries, New Testament

Ephesians Commentary

One of my summer courses is focused on Ephesians and I have to choose a commentary through which to work. The prof has given four options and I was wondering what your opinions are: which of the four would you choose and why?

  • Best, Ernest. Ephesians. ICC. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1998).
  • Hoehner, Harold W. Ephesians. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002).
  • Lincoln, A.T. Ephesians. Word Biblical Commentary. (Dallas: Word, 1990).
  • O’Brien, Peter T. Ephesians. Pillar. (Grand Rapids: Eardmans, 1999).

I’ve never worked in Ephesians, so I don’t know which way to go on this one. I like the ICC, but it’s so technical oftentimes I tire of trudging through the discussions. I will likely choose from among the other three.

So, which would you choose?

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Biblical Studies, Commentaries, Hebrew, Old Testament

Call for Resources

I have decided to preach through the book of Jonah at the conclusion of this semester (and before I start summer sessions). Here’s where I need your suggestions–resources! I have plenty in the way of lexical and grammatical resources, but not in the way of commentaries and other resources. I don’t only want suggestions for commentaries, but any other volumes specific to the book of Jonah that are helpful in understanding the book.

What volumes do you suggest?

The criteria are:

  1. Must be written by a notable OT scholar (would anyone else attempt such a feat?)
  2. Must be accessible, i.e. I don’t want to waste time reading rabbit chases cased in technical jargon!
  3. Must be affordable. I have a wife, four kids, and a summer and fall’s worth of tuition to pay for, so I have to be judicious in my selections!

That’s not asking too much, is it? 😉

I plan to start the series on Sunday, May 2, which means I’ll begin preparing the previous Monday. I have several OT introductions and other materials that will be useful in preparing the first sermon (in which I try to set up the background of the letter/account), but I would like to have books in hand by  Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Commentaries, New Testament, Reviews

Book Review: Philippians and Philemon: A Commentary (New Testament Library)

Philippians and Philemon: A Commentary

ISBN-10: 066422122X

ISBN-13: 978-0664221225


Thanks  to the kind folks at Westminster John Knox for this review copy!

Cousar’s commentary is my first read in the New Testament Library series and it was a good commentary. The old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is pertinent here. This book is a mere 112 pages long, including index. Because I was unfamiliar with the NTL series I wasn’t sure what to expect from such a thin commentary. Most commentaries this lean are usually quite slim on the scholarly engagement and substantial offering of exegetical insight, but I was surprised to find this was not so with Cousar’s work. To be sure, it is not on par with my favorite commentaries on Philippians (Fee in NICNT and O’Brien in NIGTC), but Cousar does provide a solid treatement of these letters. His interpretation of the letters is conservative and reaches said interpretation based upon an honest dealing with the text and the literature. I will say here that this is one of the drawbacks of shorter commentaries such as this–the authors must be very selective in choosing which works with which they will interact, and unfortunately, that holds true here. However, for those who are looking for a shorter treatment of these books (perhaps for personal study, small group, or Sunday School Bible study), this commentary will be well-suited for them.

I would definitely recommend this volume to someone looking for a fair treatment of Philippians and Philemon, especially to those who are looking for something a little easier work through. Advanced students would not likely glean much from Cousar as from more substantial volumes, though they would possibly find occasional bits worthy of their consideration. In summary, Cousar’s contribution to the Philippians and Philemon conversations is not memorable, but neither is it forgettable. It is another voice in the room, though it will not command the attention that other commentaries will.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason