Commentaries

Review: A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament

Philip Wesley Comfort is well known to students of the text of the New Testament. He has produced some informative works on the subject such as Early Manuscripts and Modern Translations of the New Testament, and Encountering the Manuscripts. Both productions, as well as the one under review, are marked with a clarity of style which makes them accessible to interested readers. He has produced, with David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, of which the present book is the companion. Along with these efforts Comfort has edited several helpful books, of which the The Origin of the Bible is perhaps the most noteworthy.

This commentary is divided into three main parts. After an introduction and a listing of the earliest Greek mss. lying behind each verse in the NT, what I will call Part One deals with a brief survey of the manuscript tradition. Unsurprisingly, the author favors the Alexandrian tradition as found in the papyri; with special exemplar status given to P75 through Codex B (Vaticanus) (24-26).

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Book Review - A Commentary on Exodus

“Exodus is the true heart of the Old Testament” (p. 138). So says Duane Garrett in his recently published book A Commentary on Exodus (Kregel Exegetical Library). Garrett explains further at the beginning of the book:

Exodus it the true beginning of the story of Israel. Genesis is essential to the story, but it is a prologue, describing the lives of individual patriarchs rather than the history of a people. With Exodus we begin the story of the national entity called Israel….Exodus is the beginning of everything that is distinctively Israelite, and it is the fountainhead of most of the literature of the Old Testament that follows. (p. 15)

A Commentary on Exodus is part of the new exegetical commentary series, Kregel Exegetical Library, published by Kregel. This commentary series is mainly written for pastors to provide them with an exegetical foundation of the text along with theological guides. Each chapter is characterized by the following:

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Book Review - Workbook in Romans

The Weaver Book Company (weaverbookcompany.com), who I have only recently become familiar with, has launched a new series of workbooks designed to help Christians better understand the flow of New Testament books. The purpose of the series is to “draw out the back story that lies behind the writings of the Bible” (p. 9). The first workbook in the series focuses on the text of Paul’s letter to the Romans. The author’s specific intent is to “draw out the main ideas in Paul’s storyline by observing what he actually said in his letter to the Romans” (p. 11). The intended audience of the book is study groups of Christians in any form (Sunday School class, small group, person study, etc).

The workbook begins with the reader doing an overview of the entire book of Romans. The reader is expected to read each section of Romans (the workbook divides the letter into 24 sections) and give in a sentence or two the main ideas that Paul was communicating. The lion’s share of the workbook is then divided into the following sections:

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Book Review - Jonah: God's Scandalous Mercy

Jonah: God’s Scandalous Mercy is the latest in the Hearing the Message of Scripture series put out by Zondervan and takes to heart the purpose and intent of the series. The series seeks to “help serious students of Scripture, as well as those charged with preaching and teaching the Word of God, to hear the messages of Scripture as biblical authors intended them to be heard” (p. 9-10). Youngblood, associate professor of Biblical Studies at Harding University, gives readers an extremely well done and accessible commentary on Jonah.

Overview

The commentary begins with an author’s translation of the book of Jonah. This is followed by an introductory section that includes the author’s purpose in writing the commentary (p. 25), the canonical context of the book, historical context, and literary context. The historical context section is very helpful for the person seeking background info on Jonah. Because the biblical book has so little setting given within the text, many assumptions have arisen over time. Youngblood does a nice job of cutting through the assumptions and placing Jonah squarely in a solid historical setting. The discussion of literary context is helpful as well, as the author makes some really nice observations about the structure and message of the book. Youngblood observes two problems that intersect in the book: “The first is Jonah’s inability to reconcile YHWH’s concern for nations hostile to Israel with YHWH’s election of Israel. The second is Jonah’s inability to reconcile YHWH’s justice with YHWH’s mercy” (p. 37). Immediately, the reader is given a purpose statement to keep in mind as he begins to work through the text.

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Book Review - Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word)

If you search for “suffering” on Amazon in the books section you will find almost 11,800 results. If you search for “help for suffering” on Google there are 151 million entries to choose from. Indeed the world is a place full of suffering people looking for help. You cannot make it through more than four chapters in the book of Genesis without encountering suffering in the lives of the first two people God created and the first family they made. In reading through the pages of Scripture one encounters suffering at almost every turn. Ironically, it is Job, the oldest book in the Bible, which solely addresses the subject of suffering and how God relates to it and the sufferer.

Tackling this rich, long and sometimes puzzling book, Christopher Ash has written Job: The Wisdom of the Cross. This is the most recent installment in Crossway’s Preaching the Word commentary series edited by R. Kent Hughes. Staying true to the series, Ash writes with the heart of a pastor as he seeks to show the reader the glory of God in Christ through suffering in the life of Job.

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A Review of Robert Chisholm's Commentary on Judges & Ruth

In the past Judges and Ruth have not been particularly well served by commentators (Leon Wood’s Distressing Days of the Judges being one notable exception). Many studies in the past were more homiletical than analytical. The Book of Judges presents some unique problems for the Bible interpreter. Such issues as the date of certain judges, the extent of their careers and influence, the numbers in the Book, not to mention the overall chronology of the period, offer challenges which can impact how one approaches the other historical books.

Thankfully that situation has changed in recent years with the publication of solid works by Butler, Block and Webb, supported by those by Younger and, to a lesser extent, Davis. Thus, the gap has been filled. How then does this new contribution from Robert B. Chisholm in Kregel’s Exegetical Library measure up?

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Book Review - Interpreting the Pauline Letters

The life of a pastor is busy. Hectic may be a better word. And in the 21st Century, the pace of life has quickened for everyone, while the expectations for what a pastor must do have only increased. Fortunately, there are an abundance of books and resources designed to give the pastor or teacher a helping hand. Interpreting the Pauline Letters by John D. Harvey, will prove not only helpful but indispensable in the study of the Pauline Epistles.

The book is an exegetical handbook designed to prepare the pastor, teacher or student for an intensive study through Paul’s letters. But it doesn’t stop there. Harvey’s intent is not merely to educate about the historical background of these treasured NT epistles. He aims to facilitate a pastoral application of the Word for today’s hearers. To that end, the book includes a section on how to craft an expositional sermon as well as two examples where Harvey walks through all the steps in preparing a sermon on a text from one of Paul’s letters.

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Book Review - Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Seven Churches

No book has been the subject of more fanciful interpretations than the book of Revelation. Various interpreters throughout the ages have wrestled with how to understand the many foreign and vivid images. It is no wonder then, that so few have gone on to explain to the average Christian what it might mean for their lives. As such, the discussion of the book of Revelation has been dominated by proper interpretive method at the expense of practical and contemporary significance. Revelation was after all written to seven churches and it is for the church today.

With a desire to let the text speak for itself and using a level headed approach, James Hamilton Jr. has written the newest commentary in Crossway’s Preaching the Word series titled Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches. Hamilton is associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and pastor of preaching at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.

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