Logos is giving away a great resource for their first free book of 2014. F. W. Farrar’s commentary on Hebrews in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges series is a hand commentary on one of the more difficult books of the New Testament. Published in 1891 by Cambridge University, the series was intended as a collection of handbooks on the Bible and few approach even 200 pages in a small format (3×5 inches). But in the late nineteenth century, no one was writing 1400 page commentaries! The Cambridge series is valuable today because some of the best mainline scholars contributed to the series, such as S. R. Driver on Daniel.

F. W. FarrarFredric W. Farrar was one of the finest scholars of his day. Farrar (1831-1903) wrote both a Life of Christ (1874) and a Life of Paul (1879) as well as numerous other books of theology and Church History. His History of Interpretation (1886, reprinted by Baker in 1961) was one of the first books I read on hermeneutics and aroused by interest in rabbinic exegesis. While some of his views on Hell would arouse the ire of conservatives, he was a careful exegete and extremely well-read in early church history as well as rabbinic exegesis.

The commentary on Hebrews is most valuable for the 50 pages introduction to the book of Hebrews. This section covers all the usual items expected in a New Testament introduction and gives an insight into what scholarship thought about Hebrews at the turn of the 20th century. On authorship, for example, Farrar rejects Pauline authorship and has a good survey of the arguments for and against Paul as the author the letter. After listing a series of observations about the author, Farrar concludes that “Apollos meets every one of the necessary requirements” (48). The body of the commentary moves phrase by phrase through the text, commenting on the Greek text, with occasional textual notes. When referring to the Hebrew Bible, words appear in transliteration, although a few are in Hebrew letters as well.

What I find remarkable about this commentary is the number if allusions to Philo, the Apocrypha, and other intertestamental sources. Despite the fact the book is well over 100 years old, Farrar is well aware of the intellectual context of the writer of Hebrews. This ought not be a surprise, given the breadth of his History of Interpretation.

Like many of the other books Logos has given away for free over the last two years, this is commentary is out of print and freely available from various sources around the web, such as the Internet Archive and Google Books. With the Logos book you will be able to read the book with all of the Logos tools available (searching, highlighting and note taking, etc.)  All scripture is linked to your favorite English translation. In addition, clicking Greek and Hebrew words will launch your Greek or Hebrew Lexicons. At one point Farrar referred to a passage int he LXX, and Logos launched by Septuagint lexicon.

Another advantage to the Logos format is that it reads very well on an iPad. I have read books with Google Play and Kindle, but the best “reader” on the iPad is the Logos app. Any notes I make on the iPad are automatically synced so that they are available on my desktop (and vice versa).

The book is free from Logos through January, and Logos is giving away the 21 volume Cambridge Greek New Testament series.