After reviewing several volumes in the IVP New Testament Commentary series, I find this volume on First Corinthians as one of the best it has to offer. Alan Johnson writes with such heart. Scholarly endeavors never obscured the simple believer in Mr. Johnson. That is not to say that this volume lacks in scholarship, but that it doesn’t lose sight of what’s most important.
In the author’s preface, Mr. Johnson says, “my life has been transformed by the words of Paul in this ancient letter.” He sees First Corinthians as Paul working “through his theology of the cross as lifestyle”.
In the Introduction, Mr. Johnson begins by setting Corinth in its first-century setting. He feels that setting is essential to grasping what First Corinthians is attempting to say. Further, he feels that too much emphasis on Greek culture overlooks the Roman character of Corinth. When Mr. Johnson spoke of the market-service economy in Corinth as well as the impact of tourism on the culture, he brought up points that are not well stated in several other works. He briefly describes the religious environment and social status inconsistencies in Corinth too.
From there, he tackles the subject of Paul, who he states is the author. He tries to fit in Corinth with Paul’s overall chronology. He sees Paul’s purpose for First Corinthians as:” status seeking, self-promotion, a competitive drive for adulation and success, even use of the Christian church as a means of self-promotion and advancement”. He briefly overviews scholarly viewpoints on the integrity of First Corinthians, followed by discussion of rhetoric, major theological themes, and contemporary relevance.
After an outline, he jumps into the commentary itself. It is well done! In my judgment, he always struck the right balance that you are looking for in one of these mid-length commentaries. He got to the heart of the issue quickly without being superficial. I see this commentary as an excellent addition to the library of any pastor or Bible student. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
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.