Book Review: Ralph P.Martin, 2 Corinthians (Second Edition)

2 Corinthans MartinMartin, Ralph P. 2 Corinthians. Second Edition. Word Biblical Commentary 40; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014. 751 pp. Hb; $54.99.   Link to Zondervan Academic

This is the first revised commentary I have used in the Word Biblical Commentary since Zondervan took over the series a few years ago. Martin’s original 2 Corinthians commentary was among the best commentaries on this difficult letter of Paul. Zondervan’s new updated edition of the commentary will remain one of the first off the shelf for me for many years to come.

There are a few cosmetic changes that make a great deal of sense. First, the introductory pages now use Arabic numerals rather Roman numerals. It was always frustrating in the old WBC series to cite pages by Roman numeral: citing page xxviii looks clumsy. Second, all of the excurses in the commentary are printed on gray pages making them easy to find. I noticed that some of the original excurses are not identified as such in this new addition. Rather, they are simply “notes” on particular issues. It appears the note is only a few pages and an excursus is several pages long. It appears the original commentary excurses are now called notes.

One unfortunate change to the series is that Zondervan has printed the hardback edition of this book without a slip jacket. This simple cosmetic change likely saved the publisher money and made the book less expensive to the consumer, but I personally have never liked the look of printed boards on a hardback book. In additional change is that the paper is not as high-quality as the earlier Word editions. However, these criticisms are simply a reflection of the cost of printing a book today. (I was told by a Zondervan insider that all WBC commentaries will be reprinted this way.)

Martin has revised the text of the commentary in order to correct what he calls a “few slips” and to update abbreviations (BDAG for Bauer’s third edition) and to improve the reading of the text. Since it took him 10 years to write the original commentary, Martin explains he is “not inclined to meddle with the text.” As a result, there is not much new in the actual commentary.

Instead of updating the main text of the commentary, Martin includes several new excurses written by colleagues. First, Carl N. Toney contributes a 13-page excursus on the “Composition of Second Corinthians (1985-2007).” Like all sections in the WBC, this begins with a lengthy bibliography including works written before 1985. He compares several partition theories and discusses where the text breaks in 2:14 through 7:4. He concludes by supporting the view of the commentary, arguing chapters 1-9 were written as a distinct letter prior to chapters 10-13 and that “the reduction of these chapters points to the importance of reading them in their final form” (63).

Toney contributes a second lengthy excursus on “Rhetorical Studies of 2 Corinthians.” Rhetorical studies of Paul’s epistles have multiplied since 1985, so this excursus brings the commentary up-to-date in this area. Toney begins by discussing providing a brief overview of rhetorical studies in general and offers several comments on the theological value of rhetorical analysis.

A third new excursus in this commentary is on the “Social Setting of 2 Corinthians” by Mark W. Linder. As with rhetorical studies, cross-disciplinary studies using social science have been applied to Paul’s letters with great profit since the original commentary was published. Linder sites specifically Bruce Winters, After Paul left Corinth, Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians and Gerd Theissen, Social Setting. Perhaps even more influential on Pauline studes is Danker’s 1989 commentary on 2 Corinthians and his work on The Collection.

Martin contributes another excursus on the “Opponents of Paul in 2 Corinthians.” This essay was published in the Earl Ellis Festschrift in 1987. It is reprinted here as an update to the commentary, although it is nearly as old as the original commentary. Martin surveys the common suggestions that Paul’s opponents were “Judaizers” or “Hellenists.”  He points out that Paul is respectful of the “highest apostles” in 11:5, but he “fiercely lambasted” the false apostles as Satan’s agents (113). Paul’s gospel embodies a “theology of the Cross” while these false-apostles preach a “theology of Glory.” Since Paul suffers greatly, is physically weak and an ineffective miracle worker, his opponents ridicule him and dismiss his Gospel.

The commentary now includes an essay Martin originally published in the Festschrift for G. R. Beasley-Murray, “The Spirit in 2 Corinthians in the light of the ‘Fellowship of the Holy Spirit’: 2 Corinthians 13:14.” Martin updates the original excursus on “Theology and Mission of 2 Corinthians” with an essay originally published in Gospel to the Nations (IVP 2000).

Carl Toney writes an excursus on the resurrection into Corinthian’s in the context of 2 Corinthians 5. After surveying 1 Cor 15 and 2 Cor 5, Toney summarizes several approaches to the resurrection found in the commentaries. He concludes the two passage are discussing the same kind of resurrection and Paul’s language does emphasize a “physical, somatic resurrection” (254-5). While 1 Cor 15 describes the resurrection as a transformation at the Parousia, 2 Cor 5 discusses the resurrection in the light of present suffering and the possibility of death.

As an introduction to chapters 8-9 there is a brief note on the Pauline Collection which is more or less the same as the original commentary. But the older excursus is supplemented by a short note from D. J. Downs updating the discussion with material from 1985 through 2000. Downs maintains Martin’s view that the Pauline collection was intended to address “a real material need among the Saints in Jerusalem.” But the collection also likely served other needs as well such as “a tangible expression of the mutual relationship shared by Jews and Gentiles” (424).

Conclusion. I am pleased the venerable Word Biblical Commentary is being updated. Some of the volumes are in need of replacement; most are in need of the sort of updating demonstrated in Martin’s 2 Corinthians. The cosmetic changes are acceptable, especially if these changes keep the cost of printing lower. If you have the original commentary, the added sections make this update worth while.

NB: I purchased this book for my personal library. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Book Review: The Evangelism Study Bible

EvangelStudyBIbleThe Evangelism Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich. Kregel, 2014. 1564 pp. Hb; $39.99. Link to Kregel.

This Study Bible is a project developed by EvanTell, a Dallas-based evangelistic ministry founded by evangelist Larry Moyer.  The Evangelism Study Bible uses the New King James translation, dual column with cross-references in the center, a concordance and map-set. The study notes are sparse with only a few key comments per page. In fact, there are sections of the Old Testament without any study notes at all. The promotional material states there are 2644 notes, so not quite two per page. These notes all focus on how a particular text might be used for evangelism so it is not unexpected that sections of Old Testament do not have notes. The book introductions are thematic. There is nothing that is typically found in a Study Bible (date, authorship, destination, etc.) In the Pauline letters there is sometimes a reference to the Book of Acts for context, but not always (1 Thess mentions Acts 17, 1 Corinthians does not). Given the fact that all the book introductions are less that ten lines of text, this is not an unexpected omission.

The 264 “Evangelism Tips” are scattered throughout the Bible, there does not appear to be an index or master list for these short tips. These are not really “tips for doing evangelism” as much as short comments encouraging the reader. Daniel 12:2 reminds the reader everyone is going to live forever and that God wants us to make a difference. Not all are specifically on evangelism. For example, at Eph 4:32 the tip concerns forgiveness (although this could be tangentially related to evangelism).

The main feature of The Evangelism Study Bible is a series of 85 “How-To” articles 125, “In Depth Articles” and 45 “Inspirational Devotions.” These are indexed in the introduction to the Bible by book but there does not seem to be any visual way to tell which note is a “how to,” an “in depth” or a “devotional,” since they all have the same look and feel. These articles are rarely a full page long. I think a topical index would have enhanced the usefulness of the book. By grouping all of the articles offering advice on evangelism into a single index, a reader could more easily read through them rather than scanning through the pages. This could also be added to the EvanTell website.

Some of the articles are designed to be short instructions for evangelists. Commenting on Ezra 4, the short article suggests six steps for “How to Deal with Roadblocks in Evangelism.” Haggai 1 is made to serve the topic dealing with distractions which keep you from doing evangelism. The note following 2 John concerns “sharing Christ with a cult member who knocks on your door.” Occasionally a note will deal with a theological issue, such as Rev 20:15, “Why would a loving God send anyone to hell?” This is a common question for evangelists and could have been expanded to a few pages! The same is true for the short note on Rom 15:20 concerning those who do not hear the Gospel (why is this not at Rom 1:20?). The notes could be improved by offering the reader a “for further reading” section for topics needing more in-depth study.

Sometimes the articles seem only vaguely related to the biblical text. After Song of Solomon 2:16 there is a full page note on how to have a healthy marriage. On the one hand, the nine points the article makes are quite good, but there is nothing in the article actually drawn from Song of Solomon, nor is the topic of marriage related back to the purpose of the book, evangelism.

The articles appearing in the New Testament were better related to the topic of evangelism. For example, the “Role of the Holy Spirit in Evangelism” (John 16:7-11) is quite good, and the article at Acts 20:24 attempts to define New Testament Evangelism. I fully expected this Bible to have more articles in Romans than any other book, but that is not the case. There is not a single article or tip for Romans 6-8!

The Evangelism Study Bible includes a short glossary of “Evangelism Terms,” although many of the terms are general Christian/Biblical words which may come up while sharing one’s faith (evangelism, witness, follow-up, testimony). Some theological terms appear (reconciliation, redemption, justification) and are defined in very traditional conservative evangelical ways. There is a short two-page plan of salvation included at the back of the Bible. No authors are indicated for these articles, although several are adapted from books by Larry Moyer.

Conclusion. This Study Bible should probably be considered a Devotional Bible since it lacks almost all of the study helps normally associated with the study of the Bible. It is not an apologetics Study Bible and does not claim to answer common questions one might encounter while sharing their faith.

NB: Thanks to Kregel for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Logos “Free Book of the Month” for January 2015 – H. E. Ryle, Genesis

Ryle from Vainity Fair, 1912

Ryle from Vainity Fair, 1912

Logos Bible Software returns to the classics for their “Free Book of the Month” promotion. For the month of January you can download the first volume of The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Genesis, by H. E. Ryle. Ryle was appointed Dean of Westminster in 1910 and began services at Westminster Abbey the following year. During World War I, Ryle personally led special services at the Westminster Abbey.While he is known primarily as an Old Testament scholar, during his time at Cambridge he won every distinction open to students of theology. He is the son of  J. C. Ryle, the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool and author of many commentaries on the New Testament.

The commentary is very brief because the book is a companion to one’s reading of the book of Genesis, although it is nearly 500 pages the book was originally printed in a small, handbook format. I only have one physical copy of a Cambridge Bible in  my personal library, Daniel, by S. R. Driver, which pre-dates Ryle’s Genesis. The book includes a number of pages of advertising for the series as was the fashion of the day. The Church Sunday School Magazine said of the whole series: “We cannot imagine any safer or more helpful commentaries for the student of the Holy Scriptures” (this advert appears on the Logos Website as well).

As I browse Ryle’s commentary now, he comments on key phrases in the text, offering textual and linguistic comments, with occasional comments on the history presented in the text when necessary. Sometimes this is very brief, Gen 45 is covered in only five pages. As most students of Genesis have discovered, the earlier stories are far more complicated and take up much more space in a commentary!

The commentary has five appendices. First, “Babylonian Myths Of Creation” offers some illustrations from Ancient Near Eastern literature. Second, “A Legend Of Lamech” is an illustration of Jewish Haggadah. Third, “The Duplicate Account Of The Flood” is a reprint of Chapman’s Introduction to the Pentateuch (74-81), also in the Cambridge Bible series. The fourth appendix is a brief introduction to “The Tel El-Amarna Tablets” which were discovered in 1887 and only just being used in biblical studies. Ryle includes a very brief note on the Apuriu mentioned in the Inscriptions of Thothmes III (1501–1447 B.C.), Finally, the fifth appendix offers a chronology of Israel in Egypt. These are all of historical interest, although there has been much work done on the history of Genesis since the commentary was written.

This raises an objection. Someone might ask why we should be reading a commentary on Genesis originally written in 1914 and published in 1921. It is certainly true some Ryle’s use of the documentary hypothesis seems antiquated: sections are designated J or E, occasionally P, and R (for the final redaction). It is obvious a commentary written after the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered will have a much more clear understanding of Hebrew and Aramaic. This is all true, but the commentary is an artifact reflecting the time it was written. Ryle (and the other writers in this series) were master exegetes and worked very hard at their scholarship to present the Scripture to the Church in England. Like J .B. Lightfoot’s recent commentary on Acts, Ryle’s commentary is valuable because the man himself was committed to a scholarly life dedicated to the study of the Scripture. This book should probably not be your “first off the shelf” commentary on Genesis, but it has retained value in the 100 years since it was written.

In addition to this free book, Logos is also offering an “almost free” book, An Introduction to the Pentateuch by A. T. Chapman. Like Ryle’s commentary on Genesis, this book is an introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis. He presents a method and argument for the following propositions:

  • The chronological order of the codes being JE, D, P, the steps would be J and E, each containing records of the early history, were combined D, when accepted as a law book, would be added to JE
  • Deuteronomic recension of Joshua and the history in Judges-Kings
  • Efforts during the exile to preserve the ancient traditions embodied in the book of the Law brought by Ezra
  • When accepted incorporated with JED Joshua probably separated

So for 99 cents you can have two excellent books reflecting the state of Pentateuch scholarship about 100 years ago. But Logos is also giving away the whole 58 volume set of  The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. This is about 15,000 pages of commentary on the Old and New Testaments as well as some of the Apocryphal books. Even if you do not win a set, the Cambridge series appears in several Logos base packages.


Book Review: Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch/Historical Books

Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker. Downers Grove, Ill..: InterVarsity, 2002. 950  pp. Hb; $60.   Link to IVP  Link to Logos

Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books. Ed. Bill T. Arnold and H. G. M. Williamson, Downers Grove, Ill..: InterVarsity, 2005. 1060 pp. Hb; $60.   Link to IVP   Link to Logos

The IVP Dictionary series began in 1993 with the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. I was in seminary at the time and this book was assigned as a textbook in my Gospels exegesis class. At the time, I thought using a “dictionary” as a textbook was strange, but the assigned readings in the DJG were worth more than several textbooks! After more than 20 years the series is now complete, and a second edition of the DJG was published recently. As a college professor I have assigned articles from the various dictionaries as reading for classes and consider a research paper that does not consult the appropriate IVP dictionary more than a little weak. Every student of the Bible will find all the IVP dictionaries valuable; Bible College and Seminary studies should think of these dictionaries as “first off the shelf” resources.

DOTPIn this article I am focusing on the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch (DOTP) and Historical Books (DOTHB) because I was asked to review them as they appear in the Logos Bible Library. While bulk of my comments will be on using these resources in Logos, I think a few comments on the contents of the Dictionaries is important.

The contributors to the IVP dictionaries are drawn from a wide range of scholarship. While some authors are evangelicals: editor of the DOTP David Baker is from Ashland Theological Seminary and contributor Edwin Yamauchi served as president of the ETS. John Walton of Wheaton appears frequently in the DOTP. But there are articles from Peter Enns, William Dever and others who are anything but conservative! The editors of both Dictionaries assigned articles to the best scholar available, and the books are stronger because of this commitment to scholarship over ideological agenda.

Each of the Dictionaries include major articles on the biblical books covered by the volume. These cover the content of the book, structure, origins, and chronology of the book, along with any “special issues” for the book. For the Pentateuch, the authorship of the books is covered in T D. Alexander’s article and in articles on Form, Historical, and Pentateuchal Criticism. In the DOTHB, origins and authorship appear in the book articles.

There is a great deal of controversy over the possibility of writing a “history of Israel,” partially due to how “history” is defined as well as a scholar’s commitment to the authority of the Bible. In their introduction to the DOTHB, the editors state that “there are substantial articles that offer the best approximation the authors can achieve at a scholarly reconstruction of the past history of Israel in the various phases of its existence from Joshua to Nehemiah” (ix). The editors took “a clear and firm editorial line” but also allowed “allowed our contributors complete freedom to express their own point of view” (x).

DOTHBThe Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books has seventy-one pages on the history of of Israel, broken into eight periods: settlement (S. A Meier), pre-monarchy (M. W. Chavalas), united monarchy (A. E. Hill), division of monarchy (S. L. McKenzie), Assyrian period (B. E. Kelle and B. A. Strawn), Babylonian period (P.-A. Beaulieu), Persian period (T. Longman III) and the postexilic community (P. R. Bedford). These final periods overlap, although Bedford’s article extends to the fourth century B.C.E. This section of the Dictionary would make an excellent introduction to the historical books if published in a separate book.

The style of the IVP dictionaries is very user-friendly. All Hebrew and Greek references appear in transliteration. As is standard in Bible Dictionaries, sources are cited in-text so there are no footnotes. Each article includes a bibliography of sources cited in the article. These are not comprehensive, but they include the important resources pertaining to the topic.

Logos Features. Reading books on a computer (or even an iPad) is not my personal preference. But using a reference book like the IVP Dictionaries in Logos is extremely efficient. For this review I reading the book with Logos 6, although most of the features mentioned here were in Logos 5.

Unlike a traditional book, every word in these dictionaries is indexed. This means a reader can search for every reference to a topic in the entire book. If you are researching Joshua, for example, this will result in a staggering 935 references, far more than a typical book index. It is also not an efficient use of time to look up every one of these references! But in the search results Logos will give the name of the article and a short example of the text where Joshua appears, along with how many times the word appears in the article. The article on Arad, for example, only has the word “Joshua” one time, but the article on Jericho has the word 19 times. This kind of search is “fuzzy” in that it will include Joshua and Joshua’s, and any other variations that might appear.

For many words in the Dictionaries, the user can right-click to access the context menu and preform a Bible Word Study. I right-clicked on “Megiddo” in the DOTHB as an example. The Bible Word Study tool included links to all other Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias I owned and created a chart of the words used in Hebrew for Megiddo (just one, in this case). Clicking the Hebrew word opens a concordance section of the occurrences (in English) and I can run a Word Study on the Hebrew word if necessary. There are several other sections available in Logos 6, including the “Factbook.” The Topic Guide will create a page of information related to Megiddo, including any media in your library (photographs, etc.) and links to the Logos bookstore.

IVP BundleThe major dictionary articles typically begin with an outline of the whole article. These outlines are tagged so a reader can skip ahead to the section of interest. In most Bible Dictionaries, cross-references to other articles identified with an asterisk. In the Logos version of these Dictionaries, these words are links. Hovering over the link to *creation, for example, shows a short sample from the article, clicking the link will open the article. For any link, a shift-click will open the linked article in a new tab, allowing you to read two articles alongside each other. This would be difficult in a printed version.

All Scripture is tagged in the text of the Dictionary so that you can float over the text to read the reference or click on the reference to open it in your favorite Bible. I have the ESV linked to the NA 27 for Greek and the BHS for Hebrew, so clicked on a link in a Dictionary article opens the ESV to the passage and my Greek or Hebrew Bible is synced to the passage.

In addition to Scripture, if the Dictionary references a resource you own in your library you can hover over the link or click to read the text. This includes any extra-biblical texts (Dead Sea Scrolls, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Philo, etc.) If the article refers to 1 Enoch, I can hover over the reference and the text from the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Charlesworth) will appear. If I hover over “Targum Onqelos on Leviticus 24:11” (p. 82), the Aramaic Targum appears along with Lev 22:11. All references to the Mishnah and Talmud are linked as well. This makes checking cross-references extremely convenient.

Even more useful are links to any book you own in the Logos Library. For example, in the article on Historical Criticism (p. 415), there is a reference to the Armana Letters. I happen to own the Armana Letters in the Logos Library, so hovering over or clicking the reference given in the article opens the section for me. The same is true for the collection of Ancient Near Eastern texts in The Context of Scripture (ed. W. W. Hallo), Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. J. B. Pritchard. This gives the reader the ability to quickly check references without leaving their work environment.

An extremely valuable feature for me in the Logos format of these books is the tagging of the bibliography sections of articles. Any bibliography entry in blue text can be clicked to copy to Refer/Bibix style or plain text. The bibix format is for use in bibliographic software such as EndNote or Zotero. This feature makes creating citations your own documents.

Even though these are very useful features, one major linking feature I would like to see added to the Logos Library is some way to get a full bibliographic entry for an article. You can cut and paste part of an article and Logos will cite it as a footnote or endnote in Word, but there is not efficient way to cite a whole article. This is true for articles in all Logos format books. Less important, I would suggest the author’s name links to his biography as provided in the printed version.

Reading on the iPad.  Most of the features found in the desktop version are still present although books need to be downloaded in order to link texts. Bible references are all linked to your favorite Bible and will open in a floating box. Any links to other sections of the dictionaries can be clicked and the full reference will appear.


Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books using the Logos app on an iPad

The Logos mobile app includes a wide variety of highlighting and note-taking tools. Notes are synced to the desktop app, so any modifications made on either platform are saved to a file on your Logos account. Text can be copied and pasted in other applications such as EverNote or Microsoft Word. While the full desktop version of Logos will include a fully-formatted footnote, the mobile version does not.

One feature on beloved us at I particularly appreciate is the use of real page numbers rather than “location” as on the Kindle App (although there is no Kindle version of the Dictionaries). IVP sells a PDF ebook version on their website, but using a PDF file limits the user’s options for searching, cut/paste, note-taking, etc. The best mobile reading solution in my opinion is the Logos Bible app, and reading the IVP dictionaries on the Logos app allows for much more flexibility than a PDF file.

Conclusion. The IVP Dictionary series ought to be in the professional library of every serious student of the Bible. While these books may be expensive, they are indispensable tools for the study of the Old Testament. Unfortunately a resource such as the IVP Dictionaries can grow outdated and scholarship constantly dabbles with new approaches to the Bible. This is the reason IVP released a second edition of the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Now that the set is complete, I hope the next 15-20 years sees each of the dictionaries updated to reflect new trends in scholarship.

NB: Thanks to Logos Bible Software for kindly providing me with a review copy of these books. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Biblical Studies Carnival – December 2014

New_Year_Carnival1_2010.JPG_largeDaniel Gullotta rang in the new year by posting the December Biblical Studies Carnival. This is the 106th Biblical Studies Carnival, and Dan has done a great job curating a list of the best and brightest for December.

In other biblio-blogging news, Jim West discovered was able to take time away from re-telling this history of the reformation via memes to contribute the Super Duper First of the New Year Stupendous Carnival of Biblical Studies Joy. As always, Brian Small has a great collection of Hebrews Highlights for December. Finally, Peter Kirby emerged from hibernation and posed his Top 50 Biblioblogs report for the Winter Quarter.

The January Carnival will be hosted by Vincent Artale (@VincentArtale) at his Talmidimblogging and in February 2015  Jennifer Guo (@jenniferguo) will host the Biblical Studies Carnival. March and April are open for volunteers, the May Carnival will be hosted by Claude Mariottini (@DrMariottini).

If you would like to host a Carnival in 2015, send me an email  (plong42 at gmail dot com), or a comment on this post and I can contact you. Carnivals are a great way to attract attention to your site if you are new blogger, but more importantly it gives you a chance to highlight the best and the brightest in the world of bibliblogs.