This volume is the first of a planned two-volume set covering the Books of Samuel. It’s part of the highly respected New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) series published by Eerdmans. This series never had a volume on the Books of Samuel until this volume by scholar David Toshio Tsumura came along and we eagerly await the volume on II Samuel. Though some reviews I’ve read do not give this volume as high marks as others in the series, my own review finds this volume to be underrated.
Even those who are slightly critical of it must confess that Mr. Tsumura is expert on philological and grammatical matters. Scholarly students will especially appreciate its depth in the different critical approaches all the way down to the current hot topic of discourse analysis. Though he agrees with some things in critical areas that I could not, his approach would be considered quite conservative by most standards.
His Introduction begins with a basic explanation of the title of the book and then launches into a discussion of the text itself. He is quite positive about the value of the Masoretic text and compares it to the LXX and Dead Sea Scrolls. He confesses that we cannot know who wrote the books of Samuel since Samuel died in I Samuel. Though he agrees with more than I could, he still finds many of the theories of redaction in the text to be based on questionable assumptions. He digs deep into the historicity of the Books of Samuel and feels confident about most of it. He gives good background material on the Philistines, the Canaanites and all their influence including the gods of the area, and the prevalence of necromancy.
From there he goes into grammar/syntax and discourse analysis and shows us his specialty. He even addresses the poetry that can be found in the Books of Samuel. The section on literary structure and themes was well done as was the brief section on the theology of Samuel. The introduction ends with a detailed outline and a select detailed bibliography.
The commentary proper is quite full and a real help to those studying this book. There is more of an emphasis on philological matters than theology or application, but as I said before, the book is better than some people give it credit for being. It actually stands up well with other volumes in the NICOT series and I recommend it.
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.