Top Biblical Studies Book Reviews of 2015 on Reading Acts

Too Many BooksI reviewed 47 book reviews this year on Reading Acts. I always appreciate the publishers who send me review copies. I do read these books and write the same sort of review I would write for a Journal. I usually exceed 1000 words for a review, and in some cases I have divided the review into sections so that the review approaches the length of a review article.

Here are my Top Ten Book Reviews by hits in 2015:

  1. Constantine R. Campbell, Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2015.
  2. Greg K. Beale with David H. Campbell. Revelation: A Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2014.
  3. Robert H. Gundry, Peter: False Disciple and Apostate according to Saint Matthew. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2015.
  4. Thom S. Rainer, Autopsy of a Deceased Church. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2014.
  5. Gordon D. Fee, 1 Corinthians, Revised Edition. NICNT Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2014.
  6. J. B. Lightfoot, The Gospel of John: A Newly Discovered Commentary. Edited by Ben Witherington III and Todd D. Still. The Lightfoot Legacy Set 2; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2015.
  7. Peter T. O’Brien, Hebrews. PNTC; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2010.
  8. Michael F. Bird, The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2014.
  9. Ralph P. Martin, 2 Corinthians. Second Edition. Word Biblical Commentary 40; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014.
  10. Gordon D. Fee, New Covenant Commentaries 18. Eugene, Ore.: Cascade, 2011.

Two commentaries by Gordon Fee make the list, and I reviewed the Revelation commentary in 2012 yet it still had enough hits to make the list this year. There were a few reviews I thought would have ranked higher, such as Nancy J. DeClaissé-Walford, Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth LaNeel Tanner Psalms commentary in the NICOT series from Eerdmans, or Mark Boda’s ‘Return To Me’: A Biblical Theology of Repentance in the NSBT series from InterVarsity. Both were posted in the latter part of the year so they had less time to accumulate hits. On the other hand, my review of Campbell’s Advances in the Study of Greek was posted in July and hit the #1 spot.

I recently updated by Book Review index so you can see all the books reviewed on Reading Acts over the years. There are 240 posts tagged as Book Reviews at the present time, although a few a more like book announcements. I hope you all enjoy the reviews because I enjoy writing them. I look forward to another year reviewing on Reading Acts.

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Last Call for Biblical Studies Carnival Links for December 2015

Misfit ToysThe last Biblioblog Carnival of 2015 will be hosted by Jennifer Guo (@jenniferguo). Jennifer told me she was working hard on the Carnival, but if you send her a link or two she might be able to use them. What have you read this month that was challenging, simulating, or maybe even a bit strange? This is a good time to promote a less well-known blog you enjoy, or you can send a link to your own work.

A “blog carnival” is a collection of links on a particular topic for a given period. I think the idea of a blog carnival first developed out of psychology or sociology blogs, but the first BiblioBlog carnival was Joel Ng at Ebla Logs in March 2005. Sadly, Joel’s blog is long gone, but you can read an archive of it at Peter Kirby’s Biblioblog Top 50.

If you are a blogger and are interested in hosting a future blog, please contact me (@plong42, plong42 at gmail dot com, or leave a comment here and I can contact you). I have Tim Bulkeley at Sansblogue for January 2016 and Jacob Prahlow (@prahlowjacob) at Pursuing Veritas for February 2016, and Brian Renshaw for May 2016. I would love to fill in March and April or even some of the summer months.

23 Biblical Studies Twitter Accounts NOT To Follow

grumpy-cat-meme-twitterI got this idea from John Scalzi, a SF writer who has been writing a blog since before there was such a thing. I read his collection of essays/blogs on a plane this summer (The Mallet of Loving Correction) in which he had a list of “25 Geeks NOT to Follow on Twitter” (@BathingInMayo, for example).

Scalzi’s idea was really a modern version “The Mad Library of Extremely Thin Books” from Mad Magazine. These were books which would be more or less blank inside, something like “Defusing Racial Tension by Donald Trump” or “Essentials of Calvinism by Joel Osteen.”

These are all fake twitter accounts (I hope) in the same tradition as Mad or Scalzi. I worked on this list over the last few months, but finished most of it up at AAR/SBL and thought it would make a reasonable “end of the year” list for Jim West to mock.

First, a comment on who you should follow on twitter. I would start with @BibleStudentSays, a few dead theologians, your favorite publishers and bloggers, especially @plong42. I am also a big fan of @ChrchCurmudgeon, and @BitterBlueBetty. If you mix your feed just right, twitter can be a useful tool for staying aware of new publications, great deals, or other issues getting their 15 minutes of fame. I recommend using TweetDeck in your browser of choice, or FlipBoard on a mobile device.

Here is the list of (fake) twitter accounts you should not follow:

@Rubio’sApocalypse. Seven signs of the end times from your favorite candidate.

@JenniferGuoFreeBookOfTheDay. Somehow she narrows down to only one…

@PostModernCalvin. Quotes from John Calvin re-mixed and mashed up with Brian McClaren and Rob Bell. They all end with, “well…um…yeah.”

@SarahPalin’sBible. All the verses that prove Jesus carried a Luger.

@JimWest’sEncourgingWords. Jim tweets highlights from his devotional reading in Joel Osteen.

@BestTVReligiousMovies. Mostly inactive.

@BadBibleTatoos. Pictures of people who copied Hebrew from a webpage for the “Jesus tattoo.”

@HamOnNye. The very best of Ken Ham’s extensive cooking library.

@BultmannInKlingon. Translations of Bultmann quotes translated to Klingon for the existential trekkie.

@BonoKnows. Either then theological musings of U2 frontman Bono, or Sonny Bono’s wit and wisdom. Either way, steer clear.

@DTSSays. Stuff written on the bathroom walls at Dallas Theological Seminary.

@JamesAndLily. James McGrath’s Harry Potter fanfic, with occasional Doctor Who crossovers.

@BaptistsForSanders. Also inactive.

@MartinLutherTrek. Theology from the great reformer as if it was spoken by James Kirk. “Here. I. Stand.”

@WWJE. What Jesus would eat, for the serious biblical dieter.

@Craig’sCommentaryList. Status updates for Craig Keener’s commentary projects. “Finished page 4539 today…”

@StuffJoelFound. Pictures of things Joel Watts found in his couch or under his car seats.

@BuddhistJohnPiper. The sayings of from John Piper that sound vaguely Buddhist to people who know very little about Buddhism.

@TebowFett. Tim Tebow tweets inspiring thoughts while watching Star Wars.

@BethMooreBibleStudiesForMen. Seriously frightening.

@SBLCreepShots. Hidden camera pics from AAR/SBL of biblical scholars in compromising situations, like browsing a book in the Answers in Genesis booth.

@DispensationalistNicholasCage. Updates on Nicholas Cage as he rightly divides the next Left Behind movie.

@ManbunsForJesus. Seminary students sporting Man Buns and tweedy sweaters.

What other biblical or theological twitter accounts should we avoid in the coming year? Add your suggestions in the comments…

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Ernest C. Lucas, Proverbs (Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary)

Lucas, Ernest C. Proverbs. Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2015. 421 pp. Pb; $28.   Link to Eerdmans

Commentaries on Proverbs are often difficult write because proverbs are, by nature, easy enough to understand yet difficult to interpret. Proverbs in general are fairly easy to understand: we all know enough sluggards and fools to get the gist of most of the sayings in Proverbs. But there are several hermeneutical problems unique to the book of Proverbs since the genre is so distinct from Law or Prophets. To talk about the application of any given proverb seems to open up a broad discussion and some proverbs seem to contradict others. What is more, the collection in the canonical book of Proverbs developed over as many as 500 years, from Solomon to the post-exilic world. Ernest Lucas’s new commentary in the Two Horizons series provides a solid foundation for understanding Wisdom literature in general as well as a good commentary on the book of Proverbs.

Lucas ProverbsThe 44-page introduction begins by defining both wisdom and a proverb before examining the structure of the book. Lucas sees seven sections in Proverbs based on the headings provided by the final editor of the book. More challenging is the structure within these broad sections. He divides chapters 1-9 into ten lessons with several speeches and warnings from Wisdom interspersed.

Since it is almost impossible to suggest any structure in the other subsections of the book, Lucas attempts to identify “proverbial clusters” using criteria similar to Waltke and Heim. He compares his results for chapters 10-11 to these scholars and finds agreement in general, but diversity in specifics. It is almost better, in my view, to treat each proverb in chapters 10:1-22:16 and 25:1-29:27 as separate units. For example, he identifies Prov 19:4-10 as a cluster dealing with “Wealth and Poverty” (136). While verse 4 specifically mentions wealth, verse 6 mentions a generous man, verse 7 mentions a poor man, and verse 10 mentions luxury, verses 5 and 10 concern a false witness and verse 8 does not appear to concern itself with wealth or poverty, but discovering “the good.” What is more, verse 3 (associated with another cluster) refers to folly bringing a person to ruin, which could refer to poverty (financial ruin), especially since Lucas suggested the fool in verse 2 is a rich man. Verse 12 concerns the wrath and favor of a king, and verse 14 specifically mentions “house and wealth.” In fairness, Lucas does describe 19:4-10 as “loosely related proverbs,” but in my view Proverbs 19 is so diverse in topics it defies clustering.  In fact, some of the clusters Lucas identifies are only a single verse.

The 149-page body of the commentary is divided by chapter and cluster. Lucas first suggests a title for a cluster, for example, “11:2-8 True and False Security” or “17:10-16 Danger, Beware!” Within each cluster treats each verse briefly, usually commenting on rare vocabulary by comparing modern translations and suggesting an alternative translation if necessary. Hebrew appears occasionally and is always transliterated so readers without Hebrew will be able to use the commentary with no problem. Occasional footnotes refer to other major commentaries on Proverbs. As with virtually every commentary on Proverbs, exegetical detail is reserved for particularly problematic verses. Often the meaning of the proverb is sufficiently clear in translation that Lucas only needs a sentence or two of comment.

The most valuable feature of this commentary is the 162 page section entitled “Theological Horizons of Proverbs.” Lucas divides this half of the book into ten sections, almost all are chapter-length excurses on elements of Proverbs. Each topic is richly illustrated with individual proverbs collected from the book and references back to the commentary where necessary. These theological reflections could be read before (or instead) of the commentary, especially for those interested in teaching or preaching on topics in Proverbs.

Lucas first deals with perhaps the most difficult problem for Proverbs, does Proverbs really promise a successful life if one “lives out” the life described in the book?  Is there a straight-forward relationship between “acts and consequences” in Proverbs? If the answer is a dogmatic yes, then there are both theological and pastoral problems. For example, Prov 22:6 states that children “trained up” properly will not depart from that training when they are older. Since everyone has experienced a child who does in fact depart from their training, either the proverb is wrong, or we are misusing the proverb. Lucas challenges an oft-repeated axiom that Hebrew wisdom literature teaches “successful living.” That two of the three books considered wisdom literature in the Hebrew Bible disagree with this assertion (Job and Ecclesiastes), there is enough evidence to challenge, or at least modify the view that living out a proverbs lifestyle will result in success. After surveying several studies of the “Acts-Consequence Nexus” as well as a large number of proverbs similar to Prov 22:6, he concludes Proverbs was intended as a rule of thumb for teaching life skills. Proverbs provides models rooted in Yahweh’s character and purposes (218).

In the next two sections of the Theological Horizons Lucas describes the “characters in Proverbs” (the wise, the fool, the righteous, and the unrighteous) and “family, friends and neighbors in Proverbs.” Here he collects evidence from the whole book to define these regularly mentioned characters in the book. Often there is some overlap, a wise person is also righteous and there is a considerable spectrum of traits which define the wise person or the foolish person. His comments on the family collect a range of data from the book which will help a pastor create a “theology of family” (for example) for teaching or preaching.

Since Proverbs is often described as “secular,” Lucas offers several observations about God in the book of Proverbs. He demonstrates this common description is not exactly the case, since there was no “sacred/secular” divide in the ancient world. He agrees with Derek Kidner: Proverbs functions to “put godliness in working clothes” (249).

Since most commentaries on Proverbs examine the personification of wisdom in Proverbs, Lucas devotes a substantial section to this issue. He surveys studies which suggest various sources for Lady Wisdom (Egyptian Ma’at, or Isis, Canaanite or Israelite goddesses, Babylonian ummanu) as well as Sinnott’s suggest Lady Wisdom is a literary creation and Camp’s view the personification was based on Israelite women. Lucas concludes the personification was suggested by the feminine gender of the Hebrew noun translated wisdom (263). Included in this section is the personification of folly as a “strange” or foreign woman as well as various other female personifications in the book. Lucas points out these personifications need not be offensive since there are male counterparts for each (271).

Lucas devotes a section of his theological observations to “spirituality of the Proverbs.”  Beginning with the fear of the Lord, he argues Proverbs intends to form character, so that a person’s religious faith is expressed through action (279). An example of this action is developed in the next section. Since wealth and poverty are key issue in Proverbs, a lengthy section studies what the book has to say about the relationship of the wise person and money. This lengthy unit collects data on rich and poor people,

The most canonical section of this theological reading of Proverbs is Lucas’s section on “wisdom and Christology.” He begins by tracing the development to personify Wisdom in later Jewish wisdom literature (Sirach, Baruch, Wisdom of Solomon and Philo) before moving to the New Testament. Lucas focuses on three passages, Hebrews 1:1-4, Colossians 1:15-20 and John 1:1-18. In all three cases, the description of Jesus as the Word goes beyond anything in earlier Wisdom literature (331). Although a reader of John 1:14 may hear echoes of Sirach 24:8-12, there are clear distinctions. Lucas then surveys suggestions made by Dunn and Witherington to the effect that Jesus functioned as a sage. Finally, he traces these theological movements into the patristic era. For example, Theophilus of Antioch (d. A.D. 184), who identified the Holy Spirit with Wisdom. Although Arians used Prov 8:22 as support for the Son as a created being, Lucas points out no one in the early Christological debates attempted to understand the text from the perspective of its own horizon.

Lucas reviews suggestions that wisdom is part of Creation. The way to get the most out of life, according to Proverbs, is to “understand how the world works and understand its rhythms and patterns” (347). Since the sages rooted their social ethics in a creation theology rather than in salvation history, it was easier to share common ground with other ancient Near Eastern cultures (359). Lucas includes a fascinating application of this principle to the relationship of faith and science in the contemporary world.

Finally, he concludes this theology of Proverbs by examining “words in Proverbs and the New Testament.” He estimates about 20% of the Sayings in Proverbs 10-29 deal with the topic of speech (364). Lucas therefore creates a mini-biblical theology of speech in Proverbs and draws this material across the canon by using James 3:1-12 and Ephesians 4:17-5:20.

Conclusion. Although this is a commentary on Proverbs, the book could be used as a textbook in a college or Seminary class on Wisdom literature. More than half of the book deals with special problems associated with the Book of Proverbs. In fact, this section could have been edited as a short, stand-alone monograph on Wisdom. Although it is part of the Two Horizons series, Lucas does not employ canonical criticism or reception history quite the way other volumes in this series have. Perhaps the New Testament commentaries are more prone to these methods (see Wall and Steele on the Pastoral Epistles, for example).

 

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

More Ways to Fail a Bible Paper

Two years ago I thought it would be funny to write a few tweets with common student mistakes. This turned into a “top ten list” of things I have consistently read while grading Bible papers. I just did these as tweets over a couple of days (and yes, you should follow me on twitter, @Plong42).  Several people encouraged me to collect the tweets as a blog post, which I did. To my surprise, the “Top 10 Ways to Fail a Bible Paper” had the highest single day traffic on Reading Acts ever.

It has been two years so I thought I would create a second list of common mistakes when writing a Bible paper. First, I need to make a few clarifications. First, there is no one student in mind for any of the Top Ten. These are the types of things that regularly turn up in undergraduate Bible papers, from freshmen to seniors. Most of my students are very bright and write excellent papers. Occasionally even the best students backslide and make me question my ability to teach.

Second, I do want this list to have some positive influence on people writing papers for a Bible class. Too many students think a collect Bible class is just like Sunday School. All they need to do is say Jesus and the Bible a few times, share some feelings (maybe cry a little) and they deserve an A. But that is not at all what I am looking for and a paper for a Bible class ought to have the same academic quality as any other class. My guess is people who make these kids of mistakes are not passing an English or History either.

Here is my 2015 version of “The Top Ten Ways to Fail a Bible Paper.”

10. Using Jeremiah 29:11, unless you know what Jeremiah 29:11 is talking about. In fact, if you are writing a Gospels paper or a paper on Galatians, there is probably no reason for Jeremiah 29:11 to come up.

Jeremiah 29_11 Context9. Refer to every character in the Bible as holy and righteous. Other than Jesus, most are not even close. I seriously get papers referring to Abraham or David as a “good Christian.”

8. Cite a Mormon Theology website (unless you are at a Mormon School). This has happened more than once, and occasionally I get a reference to the Christadelphian commentary. First, do not do biblical research by googling your topic. Second, if you break that rule, at least think critically about the content. Who wrote the website? What is their theological emphasis?

7. A related topic is using extremely older and dated material. If you use an online Matthew Henry commentary as if it was an example of contemporary scholarship, you are not doing “research.” Matthew Henry was a great scholar, but he died in 1714. Not really cutting edge. By citing Matthew Henry (or John Gill, Darby’s Notes, Clarke’s Commentary, etc.) you are only telling your professor you used biblehub.com as your main resource and probably do not know how to find the library on campus. The reason these books are available online for free is that they are out of copyright, which means they are at least 75 years old.

Verse Wow6. Quote a verse, follow it with “Wow, that is a pretty crazy concept.” I get papers with this breathy moment of worship and nothing else. No substance, no connection to the topic. If you quote a passage of Scripture (and you really should in a Bible Paper), please keep it brief and use the text to support some point you are trying to make. I sometimes get papers which have pasted text from web-based Bibles, without any format changes. I get footnotes, changes in color, etc. If you are going to be lazy enough to paste in a chunk of the Bible and only say “wow, Jesus is really cool” at least change the font to match the rest of your paper!

5. “Many scholars say…” Name one, for example. Just one would make me happy. Usually students who say this mean “I think this is what people would say if I did a little research…”

4. “I have the kindle edition of textbook and I couldn’t figure out how to get accurate page numbers from the app.”  That is the problem trying to save money with a kindle. It is not a book so you cannot cite it properly. Usually a used textbook is cheaper than the kindle book, so unless you have an allergy to paper, man-up and buy the book. If the paper is a formal research paper, use the library copy of the book to cite it correctly.

3. Using a sermon you heard two weeks ago as the main source for your paper. I do think some pastors have good idea and I applaud a student to not only pays attention to a good teaching pastor but is moved to interact with that sermon in a paper, but a sermon cannot be the main source for your paper. When this is done right, the reference to the sermon appears in an introduction in order to raise the question or in a conclusion, making a final pastoral insight into the text.
Apostrophe 22. Stringing together a page full of quotes with no interaction with the material.
On the one hand, I am happy the student is using good resources and is citing them, but 750 words directly cited in a 1000 word paper is not good research. Students need to learn how to summarize and cite, but also how to interact with the material quoted. A paper ought to comment on the citation, disagree with the material, use the material to illustrate something in the text. Nothing makes me more angry that a 100 word block quote concluded with “and I agree.”

1. Learn to use an apostrophe. There is a huge difference between “God’s love” and “Gods love.” Unless you are writing a paper on the Canaanite pantheon, you are going to want to use a comma.

So there is my Top Ten, or Twenty if you combine both lists. What have I missed? Any other glaring mistakes other professors notice as they finish up their grading this semester?

Book Review: J. B. Lightfoot, The Gospel of John: A Newly Discovered Commentary

Lightfoot, J. B. The Gospel of John: A Newly Discovered Commentary. Edited by Ben Witherington III and Todd D. Still. The Lightfoot Legacy Set 2; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2015. 317 pp Hb; $40.00.   Link to IVP

Last year IVP released the first of three newly discovered commentaries by the late nineteenth century scholar J. B. Lightfoot. In the forward to that volume Ben Witherington recounted how he discovered hand-written manuscripts several long-forgotten commentaries J. B. Lightfoot in the spring of 2013. IVP plans one more volume collecting Lightfoot’s notes on 2 Corinthians and 1 Peter.

Lightfoot JohnWhen I reviewed Lightfoot’s Acts commentary, I asked why would anyone care to read a lost commentary written by a scholar who died in 1889? For some modern readers, Lightfoot’s legacy has been forgotten.  But the mid-nineteen century, Lightfoot was considered one of the foremost scholars of his day. The editors of this book begin their introduction with the words of William Sanday: “No one could match Lightfoot for ‘exactness of scholarship, with the air addition, scientific method, sobriety of judgment and lucidity of style.’” His commentaries on the Galatians (1865), Philippians (1868) and Colossians (1875) are often reprinted and his work on the Apostolic Fathers was the standard until the Loeb edition by Krisopp Lake.

The forward to Lightfoot’s John commentary is nearly identical to the Acts forward and the Editor’s Introduction only adds three pages specific to Lightfoot on the Gospel of John. Witherington points out that Lightfoot had often lectured on John at Cambridge and was deeply concerned at the negative impact the higher criticism of F. C. Baur had on the study of John’s Gospel. Although it was unusual for a British scholar to be too concerned with German scholarship, Lightfoot read Baur and others seriously and sought to defend the authenticity of John’s Gospel against the protestant liberalism of his day.

For this reason the commentary includes a lengthy discussion of the external and internal evidences for the authenticity of John (pages 41-78) as well as two appendices reprinting articles published posthumously in Bible Essays (pages 205-66, external evidences, pages 267-325, internal evidences; Macmillan, 1904, reprinted by Baker, 1979). More than a third of this commentary is devoted to answering challenges to John’s authenticity by the Tübingen school popular in the late nineteenth century.

Unfortunately the body of the commentary only covers the first twelve chapters of John. After a short note on the meaning of Logos (pages 80-86), the commentary proceeds as does Lightfoot’s other published commentaries. He begins with a brief summary of the pericope followed by short notes on Greek words and phrases of interest. After this commentary, there are a few pages of notes on the Greek text itself, commenting on textual variants and suggesting solutions. As Hengel comments in his appendix to this book, Lightfoot’s academic method was based on the recovery of the text of early Christian writing (p. 333). Compared to modern commentaries (Keener on John, for example), the comments are indeed sparse.

There are at least two reasons for this. First, this is an unpublished set of notes, not a full commentary. If Lightfoot had intended to finish this commentary, the notes would have been expanded, although not as much as demanded by modern commentary buyers. Second, commentaries produced in the latter part of the nineteenth century focused on helping a scholar to read the Greek text of the Bible. Notes on textual variations and translation issues were the stuff of commentaries, with little or no interest in historical background or theology. Lightfoot was not uninterested in those issues, but the commentary was not the place to deal with background or theological issues.

Perhaps the most interesting section of this commentary is a reprinted article by Martin Hengel on Lightfoot and German scholarship on John’s Gospel” (p. 326-58). Originally printed in the Durham University Journal (1989) on the occasion of the centenary of Lightfoot’s death. As Witherington points out, Hengel himself was a historian and linguist at Tübingen, although he was far more sympathetic to Lightfoot’s views than F. C. Baur. Hengel offers a brief history of David Strauss and F. C. Baur and their approach to the Gospels, especially John. Baur famously dated the book to about A.D. 170. For Baur, Valentianian, Montanism and Gnosticism were “historical background” to the Gospel of John (p. 329).

By the time Lightfoot entered Oxford’s Trinity College in 1847, the influence of the Tübingen School was at its height. Baur would outlive Lightfoot by 8 years. Lightfoot’s work on the Apostolic Fathers was considered a “nail in the coffin” of Tübingen (p. 336) and his excursus on Paul and James in his Galatians commentary “the most important contribution to the Tübingen controversy” (337). Lightfoot did not engage in polemics, but built a positive argument for the authenticity of John, as is evidenced by the detailed material in this commentary.

Hengel’s essay also includes an assessment of Lightfoot’s influence on scholarship in England. Some considered him a representative of unbelief on par with Voltaire and some compared him to the antichrist (p. 352)! Ironically his commentary on John is now published by an evangelical publisher and Lightfoot is presented as a premier biblical scholar who stood against the inroads of protestant liberalism of his day. Hengel points out that Lightfoot not only remained a faithful member of the Church and “wore himself out” serving as both bishop and scholar (p. 342). It is a sad commentary on attacks on real scholarship done within the church by conservative Christianity in both the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries. Perhaps this is the best reason to read Lightfoot’s commentaries today.

Conclusion. Like Lightfoot’s newly discovered commentary on Acts, this commentary is a valuable contribution to the history of scholarship on the Book of John. In some ways it is dated since few scholars would argue along with Baur today that John is the product of the late second century. Yet Lightfoot’s model of Christian scholarship is important for a new generation of students of the Bible.

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