The first Logos Bible Software “Free book of the Month” for 2018 is Todd Wilson’s Galatians: Gospel-rooted Living. This 2013 commentary is in the Preaching the Word series from Crossway Books. Todd Wilson is has a PhD from Cambridge University and serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois. Wilson recently edited Becoming a Pastor Theologian: New Possibilities for Church Leadership (IVP Academic 2016). I happened to attend his paper on Galatians at the 2017 ETS meeting in Providence and found it very stimulating, so I am looking forward to this commentary.
Michael Bird blurbed the book:
“Todd Wilson has written a deeply pastoral and theologically competent commentary on Galatians that is an exemplary effort at Biblical exposition. There are some doozy passages in Galatians, especially on the Law, and Wilson provides a plain explanation and then shows readers how these texts relate to modern Christian living. A wonderful synergy of homiletical energy and honest exegesis.”
For only $1.99 more, you can add Ray Ortlund Jr.’s Proverbs:Wisdom that Works (2012) in the same Preaching the Word series. Graeme Goldsworthy said “The strength of Ray Ortlund’s study of Proverbs is its Christ-centeredness. The wisdom of Proverbs loses none of its practical value, but rather is given its ultimate fulfillment as an expression of the wisdom of Christ.”
Logos is also offering Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s Acts 1-8 for $9.99. The Lloyd-Jones commentary was originally in six volumes, so Logos will add six separate resources to your library; that works out to $1.67ish per volume.
The giveaway this month is the Crossway D.A. Carson Collection (7 vols., $105.99 value). There are several ways to get chances to win this collection, visit the Logos Free Book of the Month for details. The free books (and almost free) books are only available through January 2018.
The Logos Bible Software “Free book of the Month” for November is volume one of James Montgomery Boice’s Exposition of the Psalms. Volume 1 (Psalms 1–41) is free, volume 2 (Psalms 42–106) is $1.99 and Volume 3 (Psalms 107–150) is $2.99. This is about 1000 pages of exposition for $4.98, less than the price of a Venti Candy Cane Peppermint latte.
These are expositional commentaries, rather than exegetical. Boice comments on the English text and only occasionally interacts with other commentaries or scholarship. This is a commentary intended to be read by a layperson or pastor. He is not interested in the origins of the Psalms not does the commentary worry too much about the historical setting beyond what the Psalm header indicates. He says in the introduction, “The sermons appearing in this volume were preached in relatively short segments between the winter of 1989 and the fall of 1991 and were aired on the Bible Study Hour in special winter and summer series in 1992–93.” Boice is a preacher, and his expositions in these three volumes demonstrate his preacher’s heart. You can also get the complete James Montgomery Boice Expositional Commentary series for $99 during the “Twelve Days of Christmas” sale.
McKnight, Scot. Philemon. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2017. 126 pp.; Hb.; $25.00. Link to Eerdmans
Commentaries on Philemon are often added to the end of a Colossians commentary as if this short letter is an appendix to Colossians (or, in the case of Jac Müller’s 1955 NICNT commentary, an add-on to Philippians). Perhaps editors consider the letter too short to merit a full sized commentary, unless it is heavily supplemented with additional material on slavery in the Roman world (as in the 588 page Barth and Blanke Eerdmans Critical Commentary, 2000). Although Scot McKnight’s commentary on Philemon in the NICNT series was originally intended to be included with this forthcoming Colossians commentary, Eerdmans decided to publish Philemon separately.
As McKnight recognizes, commentaries on Philemon must deal with the problem of slavery in the letter. In Philemon, Paul “envisions a new kind of relationship on the basis of siblingship,” even if that new relationship is between a slave and master (2). For many modern commentators this is a problem since slavery is a horrific abuse of human rights and a serious problem throughout the world today. Rather than tell Philemon to release his slave Philemon from his bondage, Paul does not seem to notice a problem with slavery in this short letter. Taken along with Colossians, Paul tells slaves to obey their masters rather than commanding masters to set their slaves free. In 1 Corinthians 7:21-24 Paul tells people who were slaves when called by Christ to “not let it trouble them” and to gain their freedom if possible. McKnight points out this is as close to modern abolitionism that Paul gets, “but abolitionism it is not” (29).
In this commentary, slavery is in the background, but the relationship of masters and slaves is not the point of the letter. For McKnight, Philemon is a “deeply disturbing text” which embodies a new vision of reconciliation. This commentary argues the church ought to be a place of reconciliation first among its own people and second in society. “Reconciled people become agents of reconciliation” (5). In Philemon, Paul “envisions a new kind of relationship on the basis of siblingship” even if that new relationship is between a slave and maser.
Because Paul does not appeal to Onesimus to set Philemon free, he seems to approve of slavery. One approach to the problem is to fully describe slavery in the Roman world then draw contrasts to various modern practices of slavery in order to claim Roman slavery was often not harsh. Onesimus is imagined to be an educated majordomo for a wealthy Philemon, appealing to Paul to adjudicate some dispute with his master. This strategy attempts to reduce Paul’s offensive lack of interest in ending the dehumanizing practice of slavery.
McKnight provides a twenty-two page description of slavery in the Roman world, summarizing a wide range of recent scholarship on Roman slavery. He carefully defines slavery and describes Rome’s pervasive “slave culture.” This includes brief sections on the family loie of a slave, the slave’s relationship with the master, and options for obtaining justice for the slave, including manumission and the possibility of becoming a runaway. Each of this subsections are illustrated with some Greco-Roman source and each example could be multiplied. McKnight offers illustrations and ample references to more detailed works of Roman slavery, thus keeping this commentary on Philemon from becoming too bloated with background material.
After surveying the possibility of slavery as providing a way for a person to move up the Roman social ranks, McKnight comments “we must come down from these utopian mountains to the reality” (26). The western ideal of freedom was unknown to the vast majority or Romans. Only those at the very top of Roman society would have something like the freedom western (especially American) people enjoy. We are, as McKnight says, “driven by culture to evaluate Paul’s moral message on the basis of later abolition of slavery and freedom of slaves” (26). In order to properly interpret a text like Philemon, we must enter the word of the Roman first century and read Philemon in that context.
This is material valuable, but McKnight does not simply lay out background then proceed to the commentary. He includes a six-page essay entitled “Philemon in the Crucible of New World Slavery and Slavery Today” (30-36). Here he deals with the serious problem of slavery in the twenty-first century. A reader of Philemon may feel smugly satisfied modern Christianity has “gone beyond Paul” by ending slavery in England and America, but the conditions of slavery persists throughout the world with estimates as high as thirty-five million people living in slavery. This includes sex trafficking as well as labor exploitation (either agricultural or domestic). McKnight mentions three brief examples, Thai fishing ships, child sex slaves and forced marriages. “Modern slavery” McKnight says, “is different from the past in its deception, its technological sophistication, and is disregard for ethnicity and race” (36). Paul’s answer to this heinous problem would be the same as his answer to Philemon: the church is to be a place where reconciliation happens and justice in the church ought to become justice for all.
The body of the commentary is only about sixty-five pages, about half of the volume. McKnight proceeds as do other contributions to the NICNT. After providing a translation of the text and a brief introduction, McKnight works through the text phrase-by-phrase, with any comments on the Greek in transliteration (although Greek appears untransliterated in the footnotes). Since Philemon is less complicated grammatically than other Pauline letters, the notes only occasionally need to deal with lexical and syntactical issues. More often McKnight comments on the rhetoric of the letter, focusing on how Paul makes his appeal to Philemon.
Conclusion. This new contribution on Philemon ought to take its place alongside other major exegetical commentaries (Barth and Blanke, Johnson, Knox). This small commentary will assist pastors and teachers to prepare sermons and studies on this small but important letter of Paul which are sensitive to the original cultural context but also squarely aimed at contemporary issues. McKnight has already contributed an excellent commentary on James to the NICNT series and his Colossians volume is scheduled for release in February 2018 to replace the venerable NICNT commentary by F. F. Bruce on Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians (1984). In anticipation of this new commentary, McKnight posted “Ten Reasons the Church Needs Philemon” to his Jesus Creed blog. EerdWorld has a short video interviewing McKnight on this commentary and his forthcoming NICNT commentary on Colossians.
NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.
The Logos Bible Software “Free book of the Month” for October is their best offer ever. During the month of October, you can add The Anchor Yale Bible commentary on Romans by Joseph A. Fitzmyer for free, and Francis I. Andersen’s Anchor Bible Commentary on Habakkuk for only $1.99, and J. Louis Martyn’s Galatians commentary for only $2.99. All three of these are excellent contributions to scholarship. Any work on Romans engages with Fitzmyer, and Martyn commentary on Galatians is one of the best available. The three books are about $150.00 retail, and you can get Logos 7 Basic Edition for free. So no excuses!
The Anchor Bible format begins with a fresh translation followed by a comment on the text and then a “notes” section for exegetical detail. All Greek is transliterated and all citations are in-text. All three commentaries interact with both ancient and modern scholarship and seek to explain the text as clearly as possible. For each section there is a bibliography covering secondary literature in English, German, and French. This makes the commentary invaluable for any student of these biblical books.
Strangely, Logos is not giving away the Anchor series in their monthly Logos. In anticipation of the the Reformation celebrations at the end of October, they are giving away the 55 volume set of Luther’s Works (a $258.99 value). There are a few ways to get chances in this giveaway, so scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter early and often.
The free books (and almost free) books are only available through October 31, 2017. Do not miss this opportunity to add three excellent professional commentaries to your Logos Library.
Once again the good folk at Logos are offering an excellent Free Book of the Month. This month Logos partners with P&R Publishing to offer John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (P&R, 2006) as a free addition to your Logos Library until the end of June. The book is a substantial 382 pages based on Frame’s lectures for the Institute of Theological Studies. William Edgar said this book “is at once vigorously orthodox and sweetly pastoral. We can be grateful for such a powerful and clear exposition of the whole range of theology.”
In addition to the Free Book of the Month, Logos is offering Brian Vickers, Justification by Grace through Faith: Finding Freedom from Legalism, Lawlessness, Pride, and Despair (P&R, 2013) for only $1.99. This book is part of the Explorations in Biblical Theology series (ed. by Robert Peterson). Tom Schreiner comments in his forward to the book, “sets justification in the context of the story line of the Bible. He doesn’t just give us an abstract and sterile explanation of the doctrine. We learn how justification fits with the biblical story and how it fits with our story.” Both of these books are great additions for people interested in the Reformed side of Christian theology.
Verbum is offering the first two volumes of The Writings ofIrenæus (including his most famous work, Against Heresies) for free Irenæus’s The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching for 99 cents. Verbum is part of the Faithlife family of companies, focusing on Catholic resources. Verbum use your same Faithlife account, so these books are available to anyone with a Faithlife / Logos username and password.