The Book of Psalms has been well served in the world of commentaries of late, and here the venerable New International Commentary series enters the fray. Three scholars, Nancy deClaisse’-Walford, Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth LaNeel Tanner, combine to give us this 1000-page one-volume commentary.
The target audience ranges from studious pastors to scholars. In this recent spate of commentaries, its niche seems clear. There is a recent fine three-volume set by Allen Ross among others, and this volume appeals to the same audience except offering a more economical option in one volume. This volume attempts to cover the same territory in a more succinct way. Ross would likely be more conservative, though I imagine the depth of three volumes verses the compactness of one volume will be the criteria of choice among purchasers.
The Introduction runs to page 51 and covers key issues well. Pastors will find some parts of it more helpful than others while scholars will delight in it all. Mr. Jacobson writes the bulk of the Introduction (and, as a matter of personal taste, he was my favorite of the three and I found myself agreeing with him more). Settling on the Masoretic Text rather than endless speculations over the elusive “original” is certainly a plus. An easy-to-follow history of approaches to scholarly trends in studying the Psalms was helpful.
Discussion on the Five Books within the Psalms as well as division within the books made sense. Special collections, like the Psalms of Ascent, are discussed in a meaningful way. There is less coverage of Hebrew poetry itself and main theological themes, though what was given I found interesting.
The commentary itself is exegetically satisfying. For reasons not clear to me, only Mr. Jabobson offered us a reflections section on some of the Psalms he covered. Perhaps it would have made the book too large to have it on every Psalm, but I especially enjoyed them. On that point, we can just enjoy what we got.
The writers chose not to translate hesed, which seemed odd to me. “Mercy’ or ‘Loving-kindness” are pretty good English words. Some Psalms seemed a little short in coverage, but, perhaps, that is the cost of covering Psalms in one volume.
Still, this is a fine volume and a worthy counterpart among New International Commentary volumes, and I suspect it will be around for a long time to come.
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.