More Free Historic Commentaries from Logos

In addition to the regular free book of the month (Jaroslav Pelikan’s Acts commentary in the Brazos Theological commentary series) Logos is offering three historic commentaries on Matthew. For free, you can add Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Volume 1: St. Matthew (J. H. Parker, 1841). This is only the first volume of the eight volume set, available here for $24.95 (although you might have additional discounts available). Hint: Get the free volume before buying the set.

Also on offer is Jerome’s commentary on Matthew in the Fathers of the Church Patristic Series by Catholic University Press. The paperback of this volume is $45 on Amazon; Logos has it for $7.99 through the end of December. Back in July Logos offered three other volumes of this massive series as their free/cheap book of the month.

For $8.99 you can add Hilary of Poitiers, Commentary on Matthew in the same series. This 2012 translation by D. H. Williams is the first time the commentary has appeared in English.

Both volumes are part of the Latin Fathers of the Nicene Era (25 vols.) collection. Be sure to take the free volume before buying the full set.

Don’t forget Logos has a nice collection of resources on sale through the end of the month on a “secret” sale.  If you do not have Logos yet,  get the free basic version so you can take advantage of these free (or cheap) books of the month or the other sale resources. Use the coupon code READINGACTS8 at checkout and save a bit of money.

The Secret Logos Christmas Sale

Logos has a nice collection of resources on sale through the end of the month on a “secret” sale. Since I am unveiling this musterion to you, let me highlight some of the better deals. There is plenty on this list for everyone, some theology, some pastoral resources, some church history, and even a few Mobile Ed course. Follow the link and poke around, maybe you can find something to stuff your own stocking with.

  • Craig Keener’s Mobile Ed course, Introductory Issues in Acts (35% off)
  • N. T. Wright’s Christian Origins and the Question of God Series (four volumes, 30% off) and his Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul (30% off).
  • James Dunn SCM collection, three volumes at 30% off. This includes his classic Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-Examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit in Relation to Pentecostalism TodayUnity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity, and The Parting of the Ways.
  • The LNTS volumes on The Old Testament in Revelation are 40% off ($22.18 for both volumes). This is a great deal on G.K. Beale’s John’s Use of the Old Testament in Revelation (2015) and and Steve Moyise’s The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (2014).  The Library of New Testament Studies are usually pricey, so this is the real bargain in this sale.

Do not forget about the Free book of the month, Jaroslav Pelikan’s Acts commentary in the Brazos Theological commentary series. The Matthew and 1-2 Kings commentaries are also available on that page at a deep discount.

If you do not have Logos yet, you should at least get the free basic version so you can take advantage of the free book of the month and the other sale resources. Maybe it is time to get a base package or upgrade to Logos 8 (which is a year old now…check out my review of the new version). All based packages are on sale for 20% off for the month of December. This includes the affordable Fundementals package (only $79.95) the pricier packages like Silver, Gold, or Gold-pressed Latinum versions. Use the coupon code READINGACTS8 at checkout and save a bit of money.

Logos Bible Software Deals for December 2019

Every month Logos Bible Software gives away a free book for your Logos library, along with a few deeply discounted books in the same series or from the same publisher. This month features the Brazos Theological commentary series published by Baker.  You can add Jaroslav Pelikan’s Acts commentary for free, Stanley Hauerwas on Matthew for $4.99 and Peter J. Leithart on 1-2 Kings for $9.99. The three books retail for just under $90, so $15 for the three is a great deal.

When the Brazos Commentary first appeared I was surprised by the authors. Stanley Hauerwas is excellent, but he is not my first thought for a commentary on Matthew. What kind of commentary would a theologian like Hauerwas write? The book blurb for this volume is an attempt to answer my  suspicions:

Stanley Hauerwas’ commentary on Matthew is not your typical commentary. Though most commentators approach a book for its theological aspects, Hauerwas’ Matthew focuses on the “how-to” of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. With the use of current Matthean scholarship and the wisdom of various scholars and theologians, including Augustine, Barth, and Bonhoeffer, Hauerwas is able to address relevant topics like homosexuality, politics, and abortion—not normally discussed in other commentaries on Matthew.

The same would be true for Jaroslav Pelikan. (Here is the a lengthy review via Best Commentaries)

Jaroslav Pelikan, one of the most well-respected scholars in the history of Christianity, brings you an insightful and well articulated commentary on Acts. This distinctly theological commentary focuses more on the themes and dogmas of Acts, rather than the text itself.

All three are excellent resources even if they are not the same kind of commentary as the New International Greek Text Commentary (last month’s giveaway).These valuable resources are only free (or almost free) through December 31, 2019.

Logos also does an Author’s Spotlight each month, for December they focus on the work of Craig Evans. You can save 25% or more on almost everything in the Logos Library with a contribution from Evans. Craig Evans is John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University and formerly the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament and director of the graduate program at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He has written more than 70 books and hundreds of journal articles. Logos featured Evans in quite a few of their Mobile Course (most are 35% off).

Logos has some of his popular books on the list as well as his Word Biblical Commentary on Mark 8:27–16:20. He is a contributor to the new volume on the historical Jesus from Zondervan, Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History: Criteria and Context in the Study of Christian Origins (25% off). Two other excellent academic books on the list are two edited volumes in the LNTS series from Blombury T&T Clark on intertextuality in the New Testament, ‘What Does the Scripture Say?’ Studies in the Function of Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity, Volume 1: The Synoptic Gospels and Volume 2: The Letters and Liturgical Traditions ($17.99 each).

Looks like a great time to add some excellent resources to your Logos library!

 

Logos Black Friday Sale 2019

Here in American it is “Black Friday,” the semi-official start of the Christmas shopping season. The day is celebrated with deep discounts at major retailers, general public madness and riots among shoppers trying to save 10% on a new 64-inch TV. It is much like a zombie movie with enormous credit card debt. I ventured out into the world only once on Black Friday, and it was terrible. Despite a great deal on a dishwasher my wife wanted, I was left with an extreme loathing for the human race.

Logos Bible Software SaleIf you are like me, Black Friday is a good excuse to stay and home and read a good book. But the retailers are on to people like me, my inbox is stuffed with invitations to online sales and “cyber Monday” deals. It seems like any retailer I have made eye-contact with over the last twenty years has sent some sort of deal over the last few days. (For those who do not know, Cyber-Monday is a made up holiday from online retailers to compete with the made up holiday Black Friday.)

Like almost every other online retailer, Logos Bible Software has a great Black Friday sale.

You can spend very little and get some great resources for your Logos Library. There are some great discounts on individual volumes, such as The New Perspective on Paul: An Introduction by Kent L. Yinger (only $4.99) or Approaches to Paul by Magnus Zetterholm (only $5.14). Thomas R. Schreiner’s new 1 Corinthians commentary in the Tyndale New Testament series is only $7.99 (read my review of this commentary here).

There are several Mobile Ed Courses on sale as well. If you have not sampled any of these yet, now is your chance. Among the deeply discounted courses is Jonathan Pennington on The Gospels as Ancient Biography and Josh Jipp on Hospitality in the New Testament.

But you can also make a major investment over this weekend, the entire Interpretation Bible Commentary series is 70% off. There is a 46-volume Old Testament Bundle and a 57-volume New Testament Bundle from Baker books. I picked up the Studies in Jesus and the Gospels bundle from T&T Clark, Sheffield Academic Press (23 vols., 82% off). I already had a few of these volumes so the price for the full package only included the books I did not already own (Logos calls this “dynamic pricing”). Logos is also happy to work out a monthly payment plan so you do not have to skip feeding your family to buy all the books you want.

This “black Friday” sale runs through December 2 (12:00 a.m. PST). So head on over tot he Logos Black Friday Deals Page and load up on discounted books.

If you have not already picked up the Logos Free Book of the Month for November, be sure to get a free copy of the excellent commentary on Mark’s Gospel by R. T. France in the New International Greek Text Commentary (Eerdmans, 2002). I have been tracking these “free book of the month” promotions for several years and this is by far the best one yet.  Logos users who do not already own these resources should get them immediately! When I did a top five commentaries on Mark post a few years ago, France’s NIGTC was first on my list.

For $4.99 you can add James Dunn’s Colossians and Philemon in the NIGTC (see my Top Five Commentaries on Colossians). And for $9.99 add Anthony Thiselton’s excellent commentary on 1 Corinthians in the same series. This volume was my first choice for my Top Five Commentaries on 1 Corinthians. These great deals on the New International Greek Text Commentary expire on November 30, 2019.

Logos Bible Software 8 is a significant upgrade to this powerful Bible study system. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. The software runs much more efficiently than the previous version, that alone is worth the upgrade. Everything seems to run faster than Logos 7 and the upgrade is well worth considering. As always, there are less expensive paths to upgrading that will keep you from mortgaging your home. At the very least, download the free Logos Basic or the $89 Logos 8 Fundamentals (currently on sale for 10% with some free book choices). With either minimal package you can download and use the free book every month and build your Logos library.

Logos Free Book of the Month for November 2019 – R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark (The New International Greek Testament Commentary)

During the month of November, Logos Bible Software is giving away a volume in of the best commentaries series available, R. T. France’s excellent commentary on Mark in the New International Greek Text Commentary (Eerdmans,2002).I have been tracking these “free book of the month” promotions for several years and this is by far the best one yet.  Logos users who do not already own these resources should get them immediately!

When I did a top five commentaries on Mark post a few years ago, France’s NIGTC was first on my list.

As with all the writers in the NIGTC series, France is an expert on the Greek text of Mark. The commentary has less background material that Evans, but is rich in exegetical detail. That is not to say that France is ignorant of the Hebrew Bible or other Second Temple Period literature, but only that his main interest is the Greek words in the context of Mark.

For $4.99 you can add James Dunn’s Colossians and Philemon in the NIGTC. In my Top Five Commentaries on Colossians I said:

Based on the theology of the book, Dunn thinks that the book was not written by Paul, even if it is “Pauline.” The issue of authorship is not as critical an issue as for other books, Dunn refers to the writer as Paul despite expressing doubts that he was the actual author. He is warm to the possibility that the book was written from a hypothetical Ephesian imprisonment, but cannot state this (or any alternative view) with certainty. The opponents addressed by the letter are from the local Jewish synagogue. As Dunn says, to call this a “heresy” is “quite inappropriate” since the “competing philosophy” does not come from within the church. The body of the commentary is based wholly on the Greek text, with detailed lexical and syntactical comments. Dunn is well-versed in Second Temple Period Jewish literature as well as Greco-Roman works and integrates this material into his commentary well. In particular, material from the Dead Sea Scrolls is used to illustrate the “Jewishness” of Paul’s opponents.

For $9.99 add Anthony Thiselton’s excellent commentary on 1 Corinthians in the same series. This volume was my first choice for my Top Five Commentaries on 1 Corinthians:

Like most of the NIGTC series, Thiselton’s commentary is magisterial. At over 1400 pages, the commentary contains highly detailed exegesis and theological interest. Thiselton also includes what he calls a “posthistory reception” of the text. He draws on the apostolic fathers, patristic, medieval, Reformation, and modern eras and briefly summarizes how each age has read the text of 1 Corinthians. These are interesting, although they go beyond what is typically included in a commentary.  Eerdmans also published A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary version of this commentary which should be sufficient for most pastors.

These three commentaries would cost over $200 in hardback and are rarely available used. But Logos is offering them for a mere $15. Although I prefer a real book, reading the commentaries in Logos is extremely convenient since all of the tools of the Logos Bible Software are available. This includes searching within the book, clicking Greek and Hebrew words to open your preferred lexicons, hovering over abbreviations for a definition, clicking on cited resources to open in Logos, and advanced highlighting and note-taking tools Logos books come with real page numbers, any text you copy/paste into Word will appear with a proper citation in your style preference (Chicago, MLA, APA, etc.)

As usual, Logos has a giveaway at the bottom of the free book page. This month hey are giving away a set of ten volumes in the Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series. This includes Ben Witherington’s Acts commentary, one of my favorite commentaries ever. There are several ways to enter the contest, so enter early and enter often.

These valuable resources are only free (or almost free) through November 30, 2019.

Logos Free Book of the Month for October 2019 – Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will

For the month of October Logos is giving away a copy of Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will. This is the first volume of the forty-one volume Yale University Press edition of Edward’s works. individual volumes retail for $29 or more each in paperback (hardbacks are difficult to find and very expensive), so the three volumes Logos is offering for tree and almost free and a great deal. Logos would be happy to sell you the entire Works of Jonathan Edwards (41 vols.) for a big chunk of money.

In the first volume of the series Freedom of the Will, Paul Ramsey “provides a fresh analysis of Edwards’ theological position, includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in the philosophical context of today and in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.” Although you can get this book free in a variety of formats on the internet, this is a new translation. For example, I have the Banner of Truth Works of Jonathan Edwards, but this is a reprint of a translation first published 1834.This Yale series was originally publish in 1957 but revised in 2009.

For an additional $1.99, you can add volume 8 in the series, Ethical Writings. From the Logos website: “This volume contains two major works of Jonathan Edwards: an unpublished text of a series of sermons he preached in 1738, known as Charity and Its Fruits, and his Two Dissertations: I. Concerning the End for Which God Created the World and II. On the Nature of True Virtue, published posthumously in 1765. Together these writings set out the principles of Edwards’ ethical reflections. The text of the sermon series is drawn from three sources. The primary text is an early nineteenth-century transcription of Edwards’ sermon booklets now in the Andover-Newton Theological School’s collection. Passages published in Tyron Edwards’ 1852 edition, and partial transcriptions by Joseph Bellamy found in three fragments among his papers, have been used where the Andover copy is incomplete. The Bellamy fragments are reproduced in their entirety in a critical appendix, along with examples showing the editor’s use of the three sources in construing this definitive text for the Yale edition.”

Add volume 18, Notes on Scripture for $4.99. “This is the first complete edition of the private biblical notebook that Jonathan Edwards compiled over a period of nearly thirty-five years. Edwards’ “Notes on Scripture” confirms the centrality of the Bible in his thought and provides more balance to earlier depictions of his writings that emphasized the scientific and philosophical while overlooking the biblical dimension. In this critical edition the entries appear in the order in which Edwards wrote them, beginning with a short commentary on Genesis 2:10–14 that he penned in 1724, and ending with his last entry, Number 507 on the Book of Solomon’s Song, written two years before his death. This volume provides direct access to one of America’s most influential religious thinkers. Edwards’ entries range across the entire scriptural canon and reveal his creativity in the interpretation of particular biblical texts and his fascination with typology.”

If you are unfamiliar with Edwards, you might check out the Faithlife Author Guides, Jonathan Edwards: A Guide to His Life and Writings, edited by Jessica Parks (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2017). This little guide is only $4.99 and will give you a quick overview. Another good resource for the Edwards beginner is Christian History Magazine Issue 77: Jonathan Edwards: Puritan Pastor & Theologian (2002). This magazine is only $1.95 in the Logos Library.

These valuable resources are only free (or almost free) through October 31, 2019.

 

 

 

Recent Commentaries on Romans

Douglas Moo, RomansThere are several excellent commentaries on Romans in recent years. In my opinion, the Best All-Around commentary on Romans is the second edition of Douglas Moo’s 1996 commentary on Romans in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (Eerdmans, 2018). His original commentary quickly became a standard reference on Paul’s longest and most important letter. Pauline studies have blossomed in the last twenty years since the first edition was published. Many important monographs and commentaries on Romans have appeared as well as several important Pauline theologies. Many important responses to the New Perspective on Paul were published, such as the two volume Justification and Variegated Nomism (Baker, 2004). Some of these nuanced and expanded Sanders others sought a return to the traditional view of Paul and Judaism. N. T. Wright’s Justification generated various responses, culminating in Wrights massive Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Fortress, 2013) and a collection of essays in response to Wright, God and the Faithfulness of Paul (Fortress, 2017). Since these developments in Pauline Theology often center on key texts in the book of Romans, an update to Moo’s NICNT commentary is welcome.

The introduction to the letter in this second edition is more or less the same, several paragraphs from the first edition have been omitted or re-worked and there are a few references to recent work on audience and purpose. For example, Moo has added a reference to Michael Gorman and Richard Longenecker as he describes the participationist view of Romans 5-8 (22). He adds a line at the end of his discussion of salvation history as the theme of Romans making it clear that although it is an important conceptual scheme for Romans, “it cannot be called the theme of the letter,” citing Douglas Campbell 2005 work on Paul’s Gospel (25).

Moo updated the footnotes in the second edition to include works written in the last twenty years. A comparison of the Index of Authors quickly shows the inclusion of major commentaries by Jewett, Longenecker, Schreiner, Wright and others. These are not simply appended to existing footnotes; often Moo interacts with these recent works in the body of the commentary. In addition, footnotes are streamlined by only including a shortened citation. Occasionally only a commentator’s name is used without page number. Readers should refer to the greatly expanded bibliography in the new edition for details. The bibliography for the first edition of the commentary was twenty-five pages, the second has expanded to 156 pages of abbreviations and bibliography.

Some excurses have been expanded, others are added. For example, in the first edition after Romans 6:1-14 there was an excursus entitled “Paul’s ‘With Christ’ Conception.” In the second edition the title is “’With Christ’ and ‘In Christ’” and more than two pages have been added commenting on the 131 occurrences of “in Christ” in the Pauline letters, with references to recent literature. The excursus following Romans 1:16-17 on the righteousness of God has been re-worked and expanded; it now includes a section on righteousness language and Isaiah 40-66 and the section on the phrase “righteousness of God” now includes much more detail from Isaiah. Moo has also updated the essay with references to recent works on the righteousness of God by Mark Seifrid, N. T. Wright, and others.

After the commentary on Romans 9-11, Moo has added about five pages on “Recent Assessments of Paul and Judaism.” This short essay deals with the so-called Radical New Perspective or “Paul within Judaism,” Messianic Judaism, and bi-covenantalism. In every case, these approaches to Paul try to take seriously Romans 9-11 and to avoid supersecessionism. Also new is an excursus on Paul’s reading of the Hebrew text of Genesis 15:16 following the commentary on Romans 4.

Longenecker, RomansA Premier Greek Text Commentary

It is clichéd to call this new contribution to the New International Greek Text Commentary (Eerdmans 2016) “highly anticipated.” Richard N. Longenecker is one of the premier New Testament scholars of the last fifty years and his contributions to Pauline studies have been considerable (Paul, Apostle of Liberty, Second Edition, Eerdmans 2015; Galatians, Word Biblical Commentary, 1990). His brief Introducing Romans: Critical Concerns in Paul’s Most Famous Letter (Eerdmans, 2011). This magisterial commentary builds on a successful career spent studying Paul by digging deep into the details of this most important book of the New Testament. 

Longenecker states in his preface he desires to spell out a proper interpretation of Romans by building on the work of past commentators, being critical, exegetical, and constructive in his analysis of the text of Romans, and to set a course for future study of Romans (xv). He certainly achieves these goals in the commentary. First, with respect to “building on the work of past commentators,” The beginning of the commentary lists seven pages of previous commentaries divided into Patristic, Reformation, and Modern Critical commentaries. Second, Longenecker seeks to “be critical, exegetical, and constructive in his analysis of the text of Romans.” It is certainly the case that his comments are judiciously critical and sensitive to the wider range of theological interests current in Pauline studies today. Third, one goal of a commentary of this size is “to set a course for future study of Romans.” Only time will tell if Longenecker achieve this goal, but it will be difficult for the next generation of writers to ignore this commentary.

With respect to typical introductory material, Longenecker only briefly sketches the major critical issues in the book, referring readers to his recent Introducing Romans for greater detail.  Briefly, Paul wrote the book from Corinth in the winter of 57-58woth the involvement of both Tertius, Phoebe and perhaps input from members of the Corinthian congregation (5-6). These are not controversial conclusions. He deals with two “matters recently resolved,” including the presence of glosses or interpolations (a possibility, but unlikely if textual criticism is properly applied to the text) and the original form of the book. Longenecker agrees with Harry Gamble’s Textual History of the Letter to the Romans as well as Hurtado and Marshall on the authenticity of the final doxology (8).

He devotes more space to several extensively debated topics. First, with respect to the identity and character of the recipients of the letter, Longenecker argues the recipients are both Jews and Gentiles who think in “Jewish categories,” but are not Judaizers. Second, Paul’s purpose for writing the letter is both pastoral and missional. Paul desires to impart a “spiritual gift” to the Roman believers but also to seek their support for his Gentile mission to Spain (10). The book also serves to defend Paul against misrepresentations of his mission and theology as well as offering council regarding a dispute between the “weak” and the “strong.” Third, the epistolary genre of the letter is a “letter essay,” setting instructional material in an epistolary format (14). His fourth issue is related to the third, the rhetorical genres of the letter. Although scholars have identified Romans as forensic, deliberative, or epideictic models for Romans, Longenecker considered the letter to be protreptic, a “word of exhortation” (15) with some influence from Jewish remnant rhetoric (especially in chapters 9-11). Finally, the focus of the book is to be found in Romans 5:1-8:39. This unit of the letter is the message of the Christian Gospel contextualized for Gentiles who have no prior interest in Judaism of Jewish Christianity (17). Longenecker thinks Paul found the story of the Exodus and forensic justification to be unknown and insignificant to Gentiles. His presentation of the Gospel to the Gentiles therefore focused on peace with God, and the relationship of sin and death. All people are equally unable to overcome death by their own strength, therefore all people need to enter in to a new relationship, to be “in Christ.”

Paul quotes approximately 100 Old Testament texts in 83 places in the letter and alludes to many more. This is a much higher rate than any other of Paul’s letters and the quotes are not evenly distributed throughout the book. Romans 5:1-8:39 has only two quotes. Unlike Galatians or the Corinthians letters, Longenecker does not think Paul’s use of the Old Testament is a result of some Jewish opponent in the Roman churches. Paul’s exegetical strategies are sometimes difficult to follow, these will be discussed as the commentary proceeds. In addition to quotations, Romans may have use confessional material, religious aphorisms, Jewish and Jewish Christian devotional and catechetical material (23). These materials will be identified in the commentary in the Structure/Setting section.

The body of the commentary is divided into several major units with introductions (chapters 1-8, 9-11, 12-15). Longenecker begins each sub-unit with a new translation of the text followed by notes on textual variants. The inclusion of a translation is not found in all of the NIGTC series and is welcome here especially given the extensive textual notes Longenecker provides. The introduction has a twelve-page summary of the manuscript evidence for Romans. Longenecker uses the United Bible Society’s GNT4 and NA27 as his base text and he discusses every variant appearing in the GNT4 in Romans and many of the variants found in NA27. The introduction also includes a chart listing the manuscripts for Romans including date, contents, Aland category (32-34).

Following the translation, Longenecker offers a section entitled Form/Structure/Setting, reminiscent of the Word Biblical Commentary series, a feature not found in other NIGTC commentaries. This section any special problems in the unit. For example in this section for Romans 2:17-29, Longenecker has brief comments on who is addressed by the pericope, the two prominent rhetorical conventions in the passage, the possibility of chiasmus in the passage, the use of Scripture and traditional material, and the structure and setting of the passage and a short note on theological issues. The Form/Structure/Setting section is flexible so that Romans 4:1-24 has an excellent section on the Example of Abraham in Second Temple period; for Romans 9:6-29 Longenecker covers major proposals for interpreting the section.

Longenecker’s exegetical comments are divided by verse and the commentary proceeds phrase-by-phrase. Greek and Hebrew appear without transliteration, although the exegesis is not dense with syntactical observations. For the most part he is able to stick to his intention to provide a faithful explanations of the text without being bogged down by minute details. This makes for a very readable commentary. Faithful to his intentions stated in the preface, Longenecker interacts with ancient and Reformation commentaries as well as a full range of modern writers. For example, the index lists some 27 references to Origin, 20, to Tertullian, 22 to Calvin, and 18 to Luther. Pages are not overly cluttered with references to secondary literature; it is remarkable how few footnotes there are in this commentary. This indicates original commentary rather than reporting what other commentators have already said.

After the exegetical comments, Longenecker includes several pages under the heading of “Biblical Theology.” These sections Longenecker builds on his exegesis by integrating Romans into wider Pauline and systematic theology. This is refreshing since commentary writers often ignore the contribution of their exegesis to the larger world of theology. Commenting on Romans 8:31-39, Longenecker says interpreters of Romans have “atomized what Paul writes…bringing everything under only one particular theme” or are “at a loss to understand the coherence of what he has written” (761). Following the biblical theology, Longenecker concludes with a brief “contextualization for today.” These are not “pastoral comments” by way of application. In fact, there is sometimes only a slight difference between these sections and the biblical theology sections.

The commentary includes a number of short excurses. For example, after commenting on Romans 3:25a, Longenecker includes an excursus entitled “Three Exegetical and Thematic Matters in Romans 3:25a that Are of Particular Importance (Though Also Frequently Disputed) and Therefore Deserving of Special Consideration.” (Yes, that is the title!) What follows is seven pages of slightly smaller print discussing the meaning of “whom God presenting publically,” “Sacrifice of Atonement,” and the prepositional phrase “through his faithfulness, by his blood.” This excursus is more detailed than the rest of the commentary, but it should not be assumed an excursus is not critically important to the commentary. For example, Longenecker’s nine pages of comments on the righteousness of God (Romans 1:17) are an excellent summary of the state of the discussion of this important phrase. His eight pages on “‘Works of the Law’ and the ‘New Perspective’” is worth reading before working through the commentary on Romans 3:20. Another critically important note is his more than eight pages on the remnant in rabbinic writings and non-conformist Judaism in the first two centuries B.C.E. A list of all of the excurses ought to be included in the table of contents or indices.

Any commentary in the New International Greek Text Commentary is worth buying and often becomes the first resource I consult. Longenecker’s contribution to this series takes its place along a handful of recent major commentaries on the book of Romans which will set the agenda for the study of this important book for the next generation of biblical scholars.

Thielman, RomansAn Excellent Exegetical Pastor’s Commentary

Frank Thielman’s new contribution to the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series enters an already crowded field of recent major Romans commentaries. Thielman serves as Presbyterian Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School. His previous work includes From Plight to Solution: A Jewish Framework for Understanding Paul’s View of the Law in Galatians and Romans (Brill, 1989), Paul and the Law: A Contextual Approach (Inter-Varsity, 1994) and Theology of the New Testament: A Canonical and Synthetic Approach (Zondervan, 2005).

The thirty-one page introduction is quite different than the average exegetical commentary on Romans. Thielman begins with a brief synopsis of state of the Roman Empire in A.D. 57 followed by an account of how Christian first reached Rome. The purpose of both sections is to place the reader into the world of Rome in the mid-first century. He draws attention to the social problems of slavery, infanticide, and the despair of people living in abject poverty. Thielman paints a picture of “Rome’s Christians as relatively poor, hardworking people with roots in the East and speaking Greek as well as or better than Latin” (p. 32).

With respect to traditional introductory questions, the Letter to the Romans was written from Corinth about A.D. 57 and delivered by Phoebe to ethnically diverse but mostly Gentile churches in Rome. Phoebe may have been a woman of wealth and high social status based the word προστάτις in Romans 16:2, and Thielman thinks she holds the position of deacon. The role of deacon, however, “involved a lot of running around” as was considered lowly service by Greco-Roman standards (p. 712).

As for the purpose of the letter, Thielman observes there are several reasons Paul wrote to a congregation he did not yet know. Paul says his desire is to visit them in order to preach the Gospel (1:13). The rest of Romans describes Paul’s gospel and its implications for Christian living. Since the Roman churches were predominately Gentile, Thielman suggests Paul may have considered the Roman Christians part of his apostolic responsibility (p. 37). But Paul also needed the support of the Roman congregations if he was to continue his mission by preaching the Gospel in Spain (Rom 15:28-29).

Each chapter in the body of the commentary begins with the literary context of the section of Romans under examination. This is more than a summary of the pericope since Thielman connects the smaller unit with the larger aims of the letter. Following this is a snippet of the detailed outline of Romans in a faux computer window graphic. Thielman then offers a concise main idea for the section to be studied in the chapter.

Following this graphical display of the text, Thielman makes a series of observations on the structure of the pericope followed by an exegetical outline. Since these are slightly more detailed than the outline provided under the literary context, it makes little sense to me to include both; the faux window under literary context could be deleted without any loss in clarity. In fact, the structure section could easily be combined with the literary context since it is a slightly more detailed version of the same material. This is a problem for the commentary series and not the fault of Thielman.

After setting the context in several different ways, Thielman moves on to the commentary proper under the heading “Explanation of the Text.” Here the style of the commentary breaks up into two columns. The commentary proceeds phrase-by-phrase, with the English text in bold followed by the Greek text in parenthesis. Since key Greek words are repeated in the commentary, printing the full Greek text may not be necessary. Thielman does not often comment on the syntax in the body of the commentary, but there are ample footnotes directing readers to Wallace, Zerwick, Moule and other advanced koine Greek grammars. The same is true for lexical issues. He often comments on the use of a word elsewhere in the LXX or Greek New Testament and uses the footnotes to point readers to lexicons and theological dictionaries. This makes the body of the commentary uncluttered and easy to read. Thielman interacts with secondary literature in the footnotes, pointing interested readers to a wide range of literature on Romans, both classic and modern.

The final unit in each chapter is labeled “Theology in Application.” Here Thielman offers two or three points of contact with Pauline theology or contemporary church issues which arise from his exegesis. For example, commenting on honor and shame in Romans 12:1-8, Thielman says “competition and seeking honor for one’s self are no less a part of modern human societies than they were of ancient Roman society. Paul’s call upon believers to be vigilant against allowing this spirit to infect the church is as relevant now as it was in his own time” (p. 581).

Thielman covers technical details excurses scattered throughout the commentary. These sidebars are labeled “In Depth” and are printed in a sans-serf font and a grey background. Like most excurses, the reader may skip over them thinking they are not very important. This is not the case, Thielman uses these sidebars to deal with a few important issues for the study of Romans. Several deal with textual criticism such as the doxology at the end of Roman 16 or the difficult problem of ἔχομεν or ἔχωμεν in Romans 5:1. Other sidebars focus on the background to special vocabulary, such as ἱλαστήριον in Romans 3:25 or “height” and “depth” in Romans 8:39 (are these astrological terms? Thielman says no). Sometimes the excursus covers a difficult problem in Romans studies such as the identity of “I” in 7:7-25 or the nature of the house church which met in the home of Prisca and Aquila in 16:3. I expected a sidebar on Junia (16:7), Thielman quickly covers the identity Junia in the commentary (she is an apostle, Thielman includes more than two pages on Paul’s understanding of Israel’s stumbling in Romans 9-11 and another two pages on his use of Deuteronomy 30:12-14 in Romans 10:6-8.

Conclusion: Which Should You Buy?

The obvious answer is “all of them.” You do not really need food and shelter, right? All three are a worthy investment for someone who wants to dig deeper into the most important (and difficult) of Paul’s letters.