There are two elements to consider in evaluating this commentary. First, there is the novel, almost experimental approach of using as his Hebrew source text the old Greek text of Jeremiah! Yes, I said Greek. Second, there is the commentary skill exhibited as he works through the text. To my mind, he scores far better on the second one than the first.
For the life of me, I can’t see why that Greek text as his basis was a good idea. Yes, I read his reasoning, but I’m still unconvinced. Perhaps the scholarly world will eventually canonize him as a bold pioneer, but I don’t think still I’d be convinced. Perhaps, too, since he mentioned the plethora of commentaries on Jeremiah today, he felt he needed an angle to join the fray. I would have thought, but what do I know, that delivering a commentary in a major commentary series on one of the largest books in the Bible would have been enough. If I’m studying anything based on the Masoretic text, as most would be doing, won’t this commentary leave me high and dry where they differ? Will this be along the lines of Coca-Cola bringing out New Coke, which of course if you’re younger than me you probably never heard of?
If I’ve been sounding super-critical, let me balance it. Mr. Shepherd is a quality scholar. His writing is fine, his research thorough, his conclusions clear headed and the help he gives quantifiable. His earlier commentary on the Minor Prophets in this same series was top notch. It would not be fair to write him or this commentary off for one questionable idea even if it unfortunately pervades the whole work. To be even more fair, what he did is not one iota as bad as those who take the Masoretic text and chop it to pieces, as if you couldn’t believe a word of it. Finally, perhaps anticipating the criticism, he mentions what the MT says often throughout the commentary.
Every commentary has its strength and this one is the exegesis despite the incessant discussion of the Greek text. The exegesis is better than, say, the theology, but it’s not barren of theology and often makes good Scriptural connections.
I’ll give this 4 stars, but you can add one more if you happened to be looking for a commentary on the Greek text of Jeremiah. If that were the case for you , I doubt this one could be beat.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.