You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Commentary’ tag.
The Logos Bible Software “Free book of the Month” is Urlich Luz’s excellent Matthew 1-7 in the Hermenia series from Fortress Press and for a mere $1.99 you can get the second volume (Matthew 8-20). These volumes retail for $75 each! Luz taught at Göttingen University and the University of Bern in Switzerland until his retirement in 2003 and is one of the premier interpreters of Matthew.
Typical of the Hermenia commentary series, this is a highly detailed exegetical commentary which interacts fully with the text of Matthew as well as the best in critical scholarship. Luz provides detailed bibliographies for each pericope, analyzes the structure and redaction history (especially important for the Sermon on the Mount). The exegesis often takes into account the history of interpretation (see, for example, on the “Golden Rule” in Matthew 7:12). He concludes with a “meaning for today” section.
As is typical, Logos is running a giveaway- the entire Hermenia series (nearly $1400 retail!) This includes not only the Hermenia volumes, but the Continental commentaries that fill out the Hermenia series. This one is worth entering as many times as they allow!
I noticed only recent Logos gives away free books through Faithlife’s Verbum brand as well. This month they offer Wilfrid Harrington’s Revelation in the Sacra Pagina series for free, and John Donahue & Daniel Harrington’s Mark commentary in the same series for only 99 cents. The Sacra Pagina is written by the best in Catholic scholarship, but this should not limit their usefulness Luke Timothy Johnson on Acts in this series is excellent, I have used Richard’s commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians in the series and found it very useful.
Faithlife also has a Classics brand, Noet. They are giving away Caesar’s Gallic War. This is the two-volume Loeb Classical Library edition and includes both the Latin text and an English translation by H.J. Edwards. It is an older translation (and available around the Web in various forms). If you have the Perseus Project through Logos, you may already have this set. For 99 cents you can add Caesar’s Civil Wars to your library as well. You can enter a giveaway through Noet this month for the entire 20-volumes of Pliny’s Natural History in the Loeb Library.
All of these books are usable on any Logos platform (PC, Mac, mobile devices, etc.) You can build your Logos Library up with several excellent resources for very little money this month, so click the links and download the books!
The Logos Bible Software “Free book of the Month” is Gary V. Smith’s Mentor Commentary on Amos published by Mentor in 1998. The book was originally published by Zondervan in 1989, this is a “revised and expanded” edition. In the preface, Smith says the revisions are some developments in his own thinking about Amos especially as it relates to the “Sociology of Knowledge.”
You may recall Gary Smith’s recent Interpreting the Prophetic Books (Kregel, 2015) which I reviewed in May, or his commentary on Isaiah in the NAC series from Broadman & Holman. After this Mentor commentary was published, he contributed Hosea, Amos, Micah in The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan, 2001). He has also contributed sections on Isaiah and Esther in Jason DeRouchie, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About (Kregel, 2014).
In addition to the free book, Logos is offering Irvin A. Busenitz ‘s Mentor Commentary on Joel & Obadiah for only $1.99. Busenitz was at Talbot Theological Seminary before becoming a founding member of The Master’s Seminary. This commentary was published in 2003.
Both Smith and Busenitz represent conservative voices on the prophets, so there is little in these commentaries discussing sources for the prophecies or potential revisions (such as those suggested by Wolff in his Hermenia commentary on Amos, for example). Smith gives a brief overview of composition theories for Amos and conclude these theories risk “stripping the heart” from the message of the prophet. With respect to Joel, Busenitz dates the book early, about 860-850 B.C., although he does recognize there is no “easy solution” to the complex problem of dating this particular prophet. Likewise, he dates Obadiah to the reign of Jehoram and before Jeremiah rather than the later Exilic date. Both commentaries represent careful exegesis from a conservative perspective from scholars who are experts on the Hebrew language.
Be sure to get both books during the month of September and enter the contest to win all 16 volumes of the Mentor series ($370 value).
As a bonus, Zondervan is also giving away a book in the Logos library: Walter Kaiser’s The Promise-Plan of God (Zondervan, 2008). This is a “biblical theology of the Old and New Testaments.” Like Goheen and Bartholomew’s The Drama of Scripture (Baker), this is a college level textbook which offers an overview of the story of the whole Bible. Anything Kaiser writes is worth your attention.
The Logos Bible Software “Free book of the Month” is Mikeal C. Parsons Acts commentary in the Paideia series from Baker. Mikeal Parsons is a top Acts scholar and the Paideia series pays close attention to the cultural and educational context from which it emerges. Parsons see Acts as a charter document explaining and legitimating Christian identity for a general audience of early Christians living in the ancient Mediterranean world
In addition to the free book, Logos is offering Charles Talbert’s Ephesians and Colossians volume in the Paideia series for only $1.99. I have always enjoyed reading Talbert’s work (especially his Reading Acts, which I still maintain I did not know about when I named this blog…) As always, Logos is running a giveaway for the month, this time for the whole twelve volumes of the Paideia series. Head over to Logos and enter the contest as many times as you possibly can, these commentaries are all worth owning.
Logos is also running a “back to school sale” (which is not unusual since it is back to school time and Logos runs sales about every three hours). Each week they will be offering a new book, and this week it is Claus Westermann’s Continental Commentary Series: Genesis 1-11 (Fortress, 1994). This free book is not exactly free, you have to share the sale on twitter or Facebook to download the book. Spamming your friends is a small price to pay for this classic commentary on Genesis.
Check the “back to school” sale next week for another offer.
Logos Bible Software partners with Kregel this month to offer Thomas Schreiner ‘s 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law (Kregel, 2010) for their “Free Book of the Month” promotion. Schreiner explains the “interplay between Christianity and biblical law.” Schreiner is well-known for his Baker Exegetical commentary on Romans and the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on Galatians. He serves as professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2014.
This book is part of Kregel’s “40 Questions” series. Schreiner therefore follows a Q&A format in order to cover a wide variety of questions about the relationship of Christians and the Law, such as What Does the Word Law Mean in the Scriptures? Does the Old Testament Teach That Salvation Is by Works? Does Paul Teach That the Old Testament Law Is Now Abolished? Is the Sabbath Still Required for Christians? Should Christians Tithe?
In addition to this free book, Logos is offering Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews (Kregel, 2007), edited by Herbert W. Bateman IV. Bateman begins the book with a lengthy essay introducing the reader to the Warning Passages in order to set up the debate. The four views covered in the book are the “classic Arminian” by Grant Osborne, the “classic Reformed view” by Buist Fanning, the “Wesleyian Arminian view by Gareth Lee Cockerill and the “moderate Reformed view” by Randall Gleason. As is typical of these four-views books, each author responds to each position, and George Guthrie offers a concluding comment. More than most texts in the New Testament, exegesis of these passages in Hebrews is very much influenced by theological perspectives, so this book offers a balanced survey of the options.
So for 99 cents you can have two excellent books representing conservative Evangelical biblical scholarship. Both are worth owning and reading. But Logos is also giving away a copy of Logos 6 Bronze along with the six 40 Questions books published in the Logos library (a $670.90 value). Head over to Logos and get the two free/almost free books and register to win Logos 6.
Logos’s Free Book of the Month promotion is offering an excellent commentary once again for the month of June. Until the end of this month, Logos users can download Anthony Tomasino’s contribution on Esther in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC). If you are not familiar with the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary is a 44-volume commentary series published by Lexham Press, a division of FaithLife / Logos. The commentary incorporates the latest critical biblical scholarship” and “a distinctly evangelical perspective” and is in many ways similar to the Word Biblical Commentary or Baker Exegetical Commentary. The series was originally planned as a traditional print series but was dropped by the original publisher. Lexham picked it up a few years ago and has been publishing new volumes in the Logos system as they are released. (See this list of volumes, authors and publication dates.)
Anthony J. Tomasino (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is the Director of the Biblical Studies Program and associate professor of Bible, Old Testament and Hebrew studies at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana and is well-known for his Judaism before Jesus: The Events and Ideas that Shaped the New Testament World (IVP, 2003). He wrote the Esther commentary in the Zondervan Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament.
In addition to the Free Book of the Month, Logos is also offering Gary Derickson’s 1, 2, & 3 John commentary in the EEC. Derickson has a Ph.D from Dallas Theological Seminary and is currently Professor of Biblical Studies and Greek and Chair of the Bible and Theology department at Corban University.
This is another great giveaway from Logos I can think of no better use of 99 cents than adding these two resources to your Logos library. In addition to the free and nearly free books, you can enter to win the entire Evangelical Exegetical Commentary Series (a $999.95 value). I think this is the most expensive giveaway Logos has had since the started the promotion.
Both of these books are excellent additions to your Logos library, so make sure to add them to your library before the end of the month.
Just when you though the Logos Free Book of the Month promotion could not get any better, they offer Brevard Childs’ commentary on Isaiah in the in OTL series for free through the month of April. This 576 page commentary on on Isaiah was published by Westminster John Knox Press in 2000. Childs is a one of the major voices in the development of what has become known as “canonical criticism” as early has his OTL Commentary on Exodus (1974) and his Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Canonical Criticism means the exegete attempts to read the final form of the text of Isaiah a whole in order to develop theological themes, often listening to how those theological themes resonate in later historical Christian and Jewish interpretations. While the commentary is often not as nuanced in lexical or syntactical issues as some reviewers would have liked, Childs is an excellent expositor of the text and has a broad understanding of Jewish and Christian interpretations of Isaiah. Childs has continued to write on Isaiah, his The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture was published by Eerdmans in 2004.
In addition to the Free Book of the Month, Logos is offering Leslie Allen’s 2008 Jeremiah commentary in the OTL series for only 99 cents. Allen contributed the Ezekiel (1990, 1994) and the Psalms 101-150 (2002)in the Word Biblical Commentary and a Minor Prophets commentary ( NICOT series from Eerdmans). This 656-page commentary replaced Robert Carroll’s OTL commentary in the series and was very well-received in the academic community.
This is perhaps the best giveaway from Logos to date and I can think of no better use of 99 cents than adding these two resources to your Logos library.
As always, you can enter to win a seven-volume collection of OTL commentaries in the Logos library. Both of these books are excellent additions to your Logos library, so make sure to add them to your library before the end of the month.
DeClaissé-Walford, Nancy J., Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth LaNeel Tanner. Psalms. NICOT; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2014. 1073 pp. Hb; $60. Link to Eerdmans
I have occasionally taught through sections of the Psalms and found the lack of quality resources frustrating. Most one or two volume commentaries are so brief they hardly merit consideration. I find Dahood’s three volumes in the Anchor Bible brief and idiosyncratic; even Hans Kraus in the Continental series never really had what I was looking for in a commentary.
This situation has changed considerably in recent years. In fact, this is a good time for Psalms commentaries. In the last several years, we have seen three volumes from John Goldingay (Baker, 2006, 2007, 2008) and three from Alan Ross (Kregel 2012, 2013 and forthcoming) as well as two excellent “historical commentaries” from Bruce Waltke and James M. Houston, The Psalms as Christian Worship (Eerdmans, 2010) and The Psalms as Christian Lament (Eerdmans 2014). This new volume in the New International Commentary Series on the Old Testament is another welcome addition to the study of the Psalms.
Rolf Jacobson wrote most of the 54-page introduction, with the exception of the section on the canonical shape of the Psalter, DeClaissé-Walford contributed this section. First, Jacobson discusses the title, text and translation of the Psalter. The main concern of this section is the often bewildering numbering of the Psalms. While there are 150 Psalms in all modern translations, the actual numbering varies between the Hebrew Bible and Septuagint. In fact, codices Leningrad and Aleppo have only 149 since Psalms 114 and 115 are combined into a single psalm. The standard text most are familiar with dates to the Second Rabbinic Bible (1524-25). With respect to translation, the commentators in this volume have sought to provide as literal a translation as possible, although they render masculine pronouns in the plural in order to maintain gender inclusiveness (similar to the NRSV). One unique feature is the transliteration of hesed in the 255 times the word appears in the Psalter. Since it is always difficult to adequately render this word in English, the commentators have chosen to consider hesed as a loanword, like shalom.
Second, Jacobson deals with the problem of the authorship of the Psalms. This necessarily requires a brief study of the superscriptions since many of these Psalm headers may be understood as a claim of authorship. The common psalm header le-dawid can be understood in several ways other than “written by David.” The approach of this commentary is that “for practical purposes, all psalms are anonymous” (11). Jacobson offers a short explanation of other information found in psalm headers although many terms remain obscure.
The third section of the introduction is a short overview of the contributions of Form Criticism and Historical approaches to the Psalms. This is an important section since Form Criticism has been most fruitful in the study of the Psalter. Many Psalms to follow conventional patterns and must have developed in some kind of life-situation (Sitz im Leben). The contributions of Gunkel and Mowinckel, Gerstenberger and Westermann have influenced the study of the Psalms for most of the twentieth century. Jacobson includes the more recent work of Walter Bruggemann as a development in Psalms research. Building on the foundation of Paul Ricoeur, Bruggemann understands the Psalms in terms of “orientation-disorientation-reorientation” (17). The commentary resonates with the earlier form-critics (Westermann vs. Brueggemann), but the individual commentators are “sensitive to the canonical story of the Psalter” (19) in their description of the genre of an individual psalm. While Jacobson lists and describes five psalm types, many psalms do not fit neatly into any particular form.
In the fourth section of the introduction, DeClaissé-Walford discusses the canonical shape of the psalter. Beginning with McCann’s 1993 collection of essays on the shape of the Psalter, DeClaissé-Walford surveys several attempts to describe the collection of Psalms (including her own contribution, Reading from the Beginning: The Shaping of the Hebrew Psalter (Mercer University Press, 1997). She observe there are several sub-collections (Asaph, Korah, Ascents, etc.) as well as several doxologies marking out five separate books of Psalms. The collection was made after the exile in order to “offer the hermeneutical rationale for the survival of the postexilic community” (29). By briefly surveying the “plot” of the Psalter, she argues the five books of psalms narrate the history of ancient Israel (Books 1-2), the reigns of King David and Solomon and the dark days of the divided kingdom and eventual destruction of those kingdoms (book 3); the Babylonian exile (Book 4) and the restoration of the community to the land (Book 5) (38).
Jacobson describes the poetry of the Psalms in the fifth section of the introduction. After discussing the most common feature of Hebrew poetry, parallelism, he very briefly discusses “evocative language.” Essays on Hebrew poetry tend to be tedious, especially for people who do not read the Hebrew text. This section, however, is remarkably readable primarily due to the lack of examples which attempt to replicate the Hebrew text. He describes the features well without the often confusing syllable counts and transliterated Hebrew. I expected more out of the section on evocative language, it is barely more than a page long. Understanding how metaphors and other imagery function will pay dividends for interpreting the Psalms and I think readers of a commentary on the Psalms would be well-served by a more developed introduction to this sort of language.
The last major section of the Introduction discusses themes and theology of the Psalter. Jacobson recognizes the difficulty in developing a “theology” of the entire Psalter since it represents such a wide variety of contexts and perspectives. This diversity is demonstrated by citing a wide variety of commentators who have suggested a “theological center” for the Psalter. Other approaches to the theology of the Psalter focus on genre or sub-collections. It is easier to think in terms of a theology of the Psalms of Asaph, for example, than the whole collection. This commentary attempts to understand the theology of each psalm individually rather than develop a synthetic theology of the whole Psalter.
In the body of the commentary each of the three authors cover each Psalm in a few pages. All Hebrew appears in transliteration and most technical details are found in the footnotes. After a short introduction discussing structure in the genre of the psalm, the author provides a short outline and fresh translation. These translations have a number of footnotes covering textual critical issues, citing LXX and other versions, targumim, and the Dead Sea Scrolls where available. Following the translation the commentary section works through the psalm stanza by stanza. Since most syntactical comments appear in the footnotes to the translation, the main commentary reads smoothly with only occasional reference to secondary sources.
Following the some of the commentary sections written by Rolf Jacobson a brief reflection on the psalm appears. In this section there are connections to larger biblical theological interests, but also occasionally historical interpretations of the psalm. I am not sure why this is limited to only a few Psalms since I found them very interesting and helpful from a “history of interpretation” perspective. I appreciate the fact the authors for each Psalm are identified at the end of the article on each psalm.
Despite the length of the commentary, some of the commentary sections are unfortunately brief. Beth Tanner only has four pages of commentary on the twelve verses Psalm 26, including translation and notes. Jacobson writes eight pages on the eleven verses of Psalm 29. The lengthy and important Psalm 51 has only six pages. The 72-verses of Psalm 78 are covered in only 3 pages, although there are few exegetical problems in this rehearsal of Israel’s history. Unfortunately even a very long commentary cannot offer the same sort of detailed, verse-by-verse analysis of a Psalm one finds in a commentary on Ephesians, but that may not be necessary in most case. Some Psalms are more difficult and have generated far more secondary literature, so it is not surprising some Psalms are treated in more summary fashion.
There are a few sub-units in the Psalter that may have merited an excursus. For example, an introduction to the eleven Psalms of Asaph is only about a page in the introduction to the third book of the Psalter and a short footnote on the header of Psalm 73. On a few occasions DeClaissé-Walford addes a short additional note on the use of a Psalm in the rabbinic tradition (for example, on Ps 42, 402; Ps 45, 416). I found these side-notes interestingly, but they were a bit of a tease since they appear so rarely in the whole commentary.
Often Christian commentaries on the Psalms are interested in the so-called messianic Psalms. While there are occasional notes in this direction, this commentary is not distracted by later interpretations of the Psalms, whether in the New Testament or by later Christian or Jewish interpreters. For example, Psalm 45 is a royal psalm often associated with the messiah. In her comments on the psalm, DeClaissé-Walford points out the line from the Aramaic Targum on Psalm 45 which interprets the king as “King Messiah” as well as the common (and unfortunate, in my view) Christian interpretation of the bride in the psalm as the Church and the King as Jesus. Having recognized these later interpretations, her commentary rightly focuses on the Hebrew text without advocating for these theological interpretations. Beth Tanner’s comments on Psalm 22 refrain from the Christological interpretation until the concluding paragraph. Even though I personally am very interested messianic interpretations of the Psalter, I appreciate the writers’ commitment to keeping this to a minimum in their commentary.
Conclusion. Any new volume of the NICOT series is welcome, but this is an excellent contribution to the study of the Psalms. Do not be misled by the fact this is a single volume commentary on the Psalms: the book is a full exegetical commentary on the whole Psalter and belongs on the shelf of every serious student of the Psalter.
One additional note: This commentary will soon appear in the Logos library. While I have not used the book in Logos yet, I expect it will have all the features I have come to expect in a Logos Library book (links, note-taking, etc.) As of 3/17/2015 the book is still under development as a pre-publication. If you use Logos Bible Software, you may want to consider following the link and adding this fine resource to your library!
NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.
Logos Bible Software is offering Roy Harrisville’s 1 Corinthians commentary in the Augsburg Commentary series for free, and Frederick Danker’s 2 Corinthians in the same series for only 99 cents. Harrisville is a long time professor of New Testament at Luther Theological Seminary. He was one of the editors on the Augsburg Commentary series, wrote the Romans commentary in the same series. He has contributed many articles on theological topics in Lutheran Quarterly and “Before Pistis Christou: The Objective Genitive As Good Greek.” Novum Testamentum 48.4 (2006): 353-358. This 294-page commentary was originally published in 1987, and the series is intended for laypeople, students, and pastors. The commentary is based on the Revised Standard Version and there is very little Greek in the text of the commentary. It is very readable and helpful for pastors and laymen.
Frederick Danker is best known as the D in BDAG. He was the editor and reviser of the third edition of Bauer’s A Greek Lexicon of the New Testament. This 221-pages commentary was published in 1989. Like Harrisville, Danker is primarily focused on the English text, although there is more drawn from the Greek in this commentary. Danker has an excellent section on the cultural context of 2 Corinthians (p. 20-25) and these sorts of insights are found throughout the book.
As always Logos is giving away a set of the Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament, a $229 value.
Both of these books are excellent additions to your Logos library, so make sure to add them to your library before the end of the month.
Peter T. O’Brien is emeritus professor at Moore College in Sydney, Australia. He has already contributed major commentaries on Colossians and Philemon in the WBC (1982), Philippians in the NIGTC (1991) and Ephesians in the PNTC (1999).
Introductory Material. An introduction to Hebrews covers topics not necessary for other New Testament books. O’Brien’s 43 page introduction deals with authorship first, beginning with the traditional view Paul was the author, then examines the evidence for Barnabas or Apollos as authors before settling on an unknown author as the most satisfying solution.
Most commentaries on Hebrews devote a significant section to the situation of the readers, destination and date. After examining the possibility the readers were Gentile, he concludes that the preponderance of metaphors drawn from the Jewish religious system favor a Jewish Christian readership who are “apparently in danger of returning to a ‘reliance on the cultic structures of the old covenant’” (12). These readers were either in Rome or Jerusalem. O’Brien briefly surveys evidence for the view of the early church that the recipients were in Jerusalem and concludes the readers most likely lived in Rome, “even if it remains a hypothesis” (14). While not ruling out any date between about A. D. 60 and 90, “much of the evidence supports some time before 70.” This date is based on allusions to Claudius’s expulsion of Christians and the present activity of the Temple. In addition, he finds the lack of ecclesiastical structure in the book an indication of an earlier date.
O’Brien argues the genre of the book is “synagogue homily” akin to Paul’s sermon in Acts 13 and was intended to be read aloud in before a congregation. Like Paul’s sermon, Hebrews is can “exhortation” and both frequently use the pronoun “we.” Both make use of the “language of speaking and hearing” (20). The “skillful oscillation between exposition and exhortation” in the book creates a pattern “that allows the speaker to drive home his points immediately without losing the hearers” (21).
Despite general agreement that Hebrews is a literary masterpiece, there is little agreement on the major divisions of the book. The book is often divided into sections based on themes (F. F. Bruce, for example), but this method struggles to take into account the rhetorical feature of the book. Koester’s Anchor Bible commentary identifies sections of the book as exordium (1:1–2:4), proposition (2:5–9), arguments (2:10–12:27), a peroration (12:28–13:21), an epistolary postscript (13:22–25). Rhetorical analyses of the book have been helpful, but the book does not consistently conform to Greco-Roman rhetorical forms. Perhaps a better method for identifying the structure of the book is a literary analysis. Albert Vanhoye has pioneered this influential approach to the book. He divided the book into five units based on the use of literary devices (hook words, the repetitions of words or phrases): The name superior to angels (1:5–2:18); Christ’s faithfulness and compassion (3:1–5:10); the central exposition on sacrifice (5:11–10:39); faith and endurance (11:1–12:13); the peaceful fruit of justice (12:14–13:19). As influential as Vanhoye’s proposal has been, O’Brien finds Hebrews to be more linear than Vanhoye’s complicated chiasm permits.
A final method for identifying the structure of a book is discourse analysis. This method is gaining popularity in recent years. George Guthrie examined the book using the method of discourse analysis while being “sensitive to literary and oratorical conventions of the first century” (29). Discourse analysis observes shifts between “cohesion fields” such as genre, topic, temporal indicators, spatial indicators, actor, subject, verb tense, mood, person, and number, reference, and lexical items. This means a shift from exposition or exhortation, for example, is a marker for the reader in the author’s overall argument. O’Brien finds Guthrie’s structure a helpful visualization of the book of Hebrews, although he differs from it in some details. O’Brien compares Guthrie’s discourse analysis with Cynthia Long Westfall, who organizes the book “around the structures of mood and voice, as expressed by performatives, that is, hortatory subjunctives” (33).
O’Brien includes a section in his introduction placing Hebrews in the first century world. The influence of Graeco-Roman culture is found primarily in its “elegant language and elevated rhetoric” and the book’s use of the categories of honor and shame (36). Most commentaries on Hebrews discuss the influence of Philo of Alexandria on the writer of Hebrews. O’Brin states there is now “considerable doubt as to whether the author of Hebrews knew the writings of Philo” (37). This is also the case for the influence of Gnosticism on the book, since Gnostic literature postdates Hebrews and “there is virtually no first-century evidence for a Gnostic redeemer myth” (38). While O’Brien thinks Hebrews includes apocalyptic element comparable to the Dead Sea Scrolls, he recognizes scholarship is not in agreement as to the function of apocalyptic in Second Temple Judaism in general or Hebrews in particular. While there are some similarities between Hebrews and the literature of the Qumran community, there are “striking linguistic and conceptual differences” (40).
Finally in the introduction, O’Brien comments on the origins of Christianity and the book of Hebrews. This is necessary because scholarship on Hebrews often suggest the author drew on either Pauline theology or a Jewish Christianity as represented by the apostles represented by 1 Peter or the preaching of Hellenists such as Stephen. After examining the usual evidence for a Pauline influence, O’Brien conclude “the author of Hebrews drew his ideas from Paul, this is unlikely” (41), but he also rejects any dependence on 1 Peter or the speech of Stephen in Acts 7.
Hebrews does have similarities to other New Testament books, but ultimately “these affinities show that Hebrews is located within the mainstream of early Christian tradition” (43).
The Commentary. The body of the commentary follows the same pattern the other Pillar commentaries. After a translation of the text, O’Brien set the context of the pericope and proceeds through the text in a phrase-by-phrase fashion. The main text deals with English text, all Greek appears in the footnotes. While he occasionally interacts with scholarship in the main text, much of this is relegated to the footnotes. This makes for a readable commentary. There is one excursus on Christ as Divine Wisdom (53-4). Although it is labeled “Note 1” there is no other note in the book.
Since Logos Bible Software provided me the review copy of this book, I will comment on the usability of the book in the Logos Library. I used a laptop and an iPad to read the book. All of tools Logos provides are available for this book. The in-line search feature can be used to find all occurrences of any give word in the main text and footnotes. For example, there are 127 references to Philo, three reference to Nero. These searches are “fuzzy,” meaning a search for “eschatology” hits eschatological as well. Logos can display a single line of context for an in-line search, but also a paragraph or article. All biblical texts are linked in the commentary, hovering over the text will float the scripture in a window, clicking will align linked Bibles to the text selected. This works for non-canonical texts as well. Since I have Philo in my library, I can click on a reference and go to the text. This works for Josephus and the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as well.
There are a few minor difference in the iPad version. For example, the individual sections of the table of contents are not hyperlinked. I do find the Logos reader to be the best available. If the book is downloaded to the device, footnotes appear at the bottom of the page, and real page numbers are displayed. When I read I usually take notes in Evernote and often cut and paste text from Logos to a note. Logos has a good note-taking and highlighting utility that syncs iPad and Desktop versions.
Conclusion. O’Brien’s commentary is an excellent contribution to the study of the book of Hebrews. It does not present any radical views on the controversial introductory issues and in many ways it is quite traditional. O’Brien’s exegetical insights are important and the book ought to be one of the “first off the shelf” for pastors and Bible teachers for years to come.
NB: Thanks to Logos Bible Software / Faithlife for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.
Beale, G. K. with David H. Campbell. Revelation: A Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2014. 576 pp. Pb; $35. Link to Eerdmans
Greg Beale’s commentary on Revelation in the New International Greek Text Commentary series was published in 1999 (briefly reviewed here). At than 1300 pages, the book was ponderous to say the least. A paperback version of this commentary was released in 2013, but at $78 retail the volume is still priced out of the range of most pastors and Bible teachers. Hardback copies of the commentary are available on Amazon for well over $100. By reducing the size (and price) of the commentary by more than half, Beale contributes a commentary most Bible will find valuable for understanding this very difficult New Testament book.
What is different in this shorter commentary? First, there are some obvious cosmetic changes that save a great deal of space. He has removed direct references to the Greek text, although his exegesis is based on the Greek Bible. When Greek or Hebrew appears in the commentary, it is in transliteration. Often the larger commentary would use a smaller font to deal with a meticulous detail of the Greek text, these sections are completely removed from the shorter commentary.
Second, Beale has removed footnotes to secondary literature. This makes for a very readable commentary, although more advanced readers will want to know the source of some assertions. Beale says in the preface his “longer commentary serves as one big footnote to this shorter commentary” (viii).
Third, Beale has also removed various excurses in the larger commentary which focused on details of the text that are not necessary in this shorter commentary, including all his sections on Jewish interpretations of Old Testament passages used in Revelation. For example in the larger commentary he has a section on the Jewish legal background of Satan as an accuser in Revelation 12:10. This is omitted in the shorter commentary, since it is a detailed examination of Second Temple Literature and goes beyond the scope of the shorter commentary.
Fourth, the original commentary had a 177-page introduction; the shorter commentary has only 34 pages. Many of the main issues covered in the original commentary or simply inappropriate for this shorter, handier commentary. For example, the original commentary had a long section on the plan in the structure of John’s apocalypse. Beale compared various views of how the seals, trumpets and bowls are structured. The original commentary had a section on the use of the Old Testament in the Apocalypse. Since writing his commentary he has contributed several other works on the topic, but this shorter commentary reduces this complicated discussion to just a few pages with no reference to other ways of approaching the topic. Once again this is simply a result of shrinking the commentaries size and making it more useful for a pastor or a teacher. There are quite a few other monographs available on the topic of the Old Testament in Revelation (by Beale and others), this commentary can only sketch the issues involved.
Fifth, this shorter commentary includes more than sixty “Suggestions for Reflection” to help readers better grasp the relevance of Revelation to their lives and our world today. These are all new paragraphs which focus on application, or perhaps they can be considered “preaching tips.” Applying the book of Revelation is always very difficult, so Beale’s comments are welcome. Commenting on in the fourth trumpet in Rev 8:6-12, Beale draws an application on the purpose of disasters within the plan of God (179). There are obviously some places in Revelation which are easier to apply than others, such as the seven churches.
Something that stays the same in this short commentary is Beale’s approach to the book. In his introduction he offers a very short summaries of the classic positions on Revelation (Preterism, Historicism, and Futurism), but ultimately finds a “Redemptive-Historical-Idealist view” the most useful. This is not to say he rejects all futurist application of the book, but he wants to separate his work on Revelation from the sort of populist “Left Behind” style presentations of Revelation. He is not a futurist, and he certainly not a dispensationalist. He makes it very clear in his comments on Rev 20 that the millennium is inaugurated during the Church Age as the church limits Satan’s power and deceased Christians begin to reign in heaven. Yet there is a future rebellion after which a final judgment will occur “at the end of world history” (458).
Conclusion. I have used Beale’s larger commentary for years and find it highly valuable because of his interest in the use of the Old Testament in Revelation. David Aune’s 1200+ page, three volume work in the Word Commentary series was completed just prior to Beale’s NIGTC and is every bit as valuable, although for different reasons. It is hard for me to overstate the value of recognizing the way John crafts the Old Testament into a new apocalyptic prophecy, Beale is a master at explaining how John has used his sources in order to communicate the story of the Old Testament to a new generation. This shorter commentary on Revelation is a welcome contribution to the ongoing study of the book of Revelation.
NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.