For the month of March Logos is giving away the Lexham Research Commentary on Genesis 1-11 (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012). What is a “research commentary”? This resource is edited by Miles Custis, Douglas Mangum, and Wendy Widder as a way of bringing all the resources of the Logos Library into a commentary-like format. The guides are a research tool presenting a wide range of interpretive issues raised by Bible scholars. The idea of these Research Commentaries is similar To Allan Ross’s Creation and Blessing, a commentary on Genesis which often pointed out what a pastor or teacher needs to sort out before actually teaching the text.
The editors of the series explain in the preface to the Genesis 1-11 volume:
Each volume in the series links to standard scholarly works on the Bible. The authors of the Lexham Research Commentaries have made no attempt to identify where particular interpretations fall along the theological or denominational spectrum. This is a mark of the diversity of biblical interpretation, not a mark of implicit endorsement by the guides’ authors. Interpreters from different theological perspectives often have conflicting views on the same texts. As you encounter these views, we urge you to keep the biblical text itself central to your study.
How does this differ from running the Logos Bible Study or Word Study tools? The topics and resources are curated and annotated by the editors of the volume. After an introduction to the section of Genesis, the editors select a series of issues every interpret must struggle with and come to some conclusion in their teaching. For Genesis 1, the issues include
- The Genre of Genesis 1
- Worldview of Genesis
- Days of Creation
- Culture Wars over Creation
- Creation from Nothing
- The Image of God
- The Sabbath
- Key Word Study: Bereshith, “In the Beginning”
- Key Word Study: Tohu wabohu, “Formless and Void”
- Background Studies: Ancient Near Eastern Creation Stories
Just one or two examples: For the Image of God, after a short paragraph describing what the problem is and offering several options, there are links to the article “Image of God” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, a link to Claus Westermann, Continental Commentary Series commentary Genesis 1–11, specifically his “Excursus: The History of the Exegesis of Genesis 1:26–27.” and Gordon Wenham’s discussion of “‘Image’ and ‘Likeness’ ” in his Word Biblical Commentary on Genesis 1–15. On the word Bereshith, there are links to Kenneth Mathews, Excursus on translating 1:1–2 in his New American Commentary on Genesis 1–11:26, Victor Hamilton;s New International Commentary on the Old Testament on Genesis 1–17, and Wenham’s Word commentary. These linked resources are often Bible Dictionaries or theological lexicons.
For more controversial topics, such as the Days of Creation, the editors offer more annotations. Here are the six resources suggested by the Lexham Research Commentary:
- Robert Gurney offers a defense of the young earth creationist interpretation, taking the days of creation as six literal 24-hour days. “Does It Matter?” Six Day Creation: Does It Matter What You Believe?
- Victor Hamilton’s commentary carefully explains the three major interpretive options: the literal 24-hour day, the day-age theory, and the literary framework theory. Hamilton’s preference is a literary reading of Gen 1 with an analogical understanding of the days of creation. “The ‘Days’ of Genesis 1” The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17
- R. Kent Hughes lists six different possible interpretations of the days of creation. He admits only one can be correct but cautions against letting the issue become a point of division among believers. He argues for the analogical view—that the days are God’s workdays, which are analogous with earth days but not necessarily the same as literal 24-hour days. “Genesis 1:3–13” Preaching the Word: Genesis—Beginning and Blessing
- John Lennox has an old earth creationist perspective but discusses the options for understanding the days of creation as literal 24-hour days, as undefined lengths of time (day-age), or as a literary framework. His conclusion is a form of the punctuated activity view, in which long spans of time separate the literal 24-hour days of creation. “But Is It Old? The Days of Creation” Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning according to Genesis and Science
- Hugh Ross believes in an old earth and that “days” represent ages or epochs of time. He explains how this view is not incompatible with Genesis. “Introduction: The Dawn of a New Day” A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy
- John Walton accepts that the days of creation could be 24-hour days, but he argues that God is creating functions not matter during the week of creation. By the end of the week, He takes up residence in His cosmic temple. “Gen 1:1–31” The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis
Each unit is introduced with a comment on the structure (an outline), the place of the section in the book of Genesis and the place in the canon, and a very helpful “starting point.” This last item is a way to introduce the key issues for understanding the section.
All of the links in this resource are marked with either an open book or a padlock. Open books mean you have purchased the linked resource, locks mean you have not. This is my main criticism of the Lexham Research Commentaries: they are essentially guides to helping you spend more money in the Logos store. If you only have a few resources in your library, then the links will all be locked. People with larger libraries will find these resources more useful. I also wonder if the editors were limited in their resource annotations to only resources licensed through the Logos library? Are there are other articles, books and commentaries which would have been very helpful for the issue at hand which were omitted simply because Logos does not sell it?
Nevertheless, the commentary is provided in the Genesis 1-15 volume is in fact a good introduction to controversial topics and interpretive conundrums and the resources provided are available in any Christian University or Seminary library.
You can add the Jonah commentary for $4,99 and the First Peter commentary for another $9.99. As is often the case, Logos is running a giveaway with several ways to enter to win all 20 volumes of the Lexham Research Commentaries.
These valuable resources are only free (or almost free) through March 31, 2020.