Prolific commentator Richard Nelson has given us this volume on Deuteronomy in the Old Testament Library (OTL) series replacing the earlier work by Gerhard von Rad. Though he is without doubt from the critical side, his work here is widely considered one of the most mature from that viewpoint. In fact, I’ve seen several scholars rank it highly. Its critical analyses are much more up-to-date than the von Rad work it replaced. We have Jack Lundbom for an exhaustive, huge exegetical work and Patrick Miller with a briefer homiletic approach from the critical camp, and that leaves Nelson standing in the middle with the more typical exegetical commentary. Though I clash with the critical viewpoint in many ways, I found Nelson clear and able to provide me a solid understanding of how critical scholarship both looks at and affects the study of the Book of Deuteronomy.
After a brief bibliography, Nelson gives us 12 pages of introduction on Deuteronomy. While that is a little short, he made use of every word in some paragraphs that contained an incredible amount of information that could be mined. After a huge paragraph that opens the discussion of what Deuteronomy is, he enters into a section he calls “shapes and structures”. In this section, he pulls out many nuggets to help you approach your own study of Deuteronomy. He talks about the linguistics of the book and all kinds of structural information. He addresses the final form of the book and while admitting the structure is complex, he makes many astute comments. As you might guess, I couldn’t agree with much of what he said about the composition of the book, but he’s no more extreme than many other writings on Deuteronomy that I’ve seen. He really shined on the section called “theological themes”. I can easily agree that he has suggested many of the main themes found in Deuteronomy while giving insights and references to help.
The commentary proper is a positive representative of the OTL style. He gives the text, a lot of exegetical footnotes, some opening comments on the passage that discusses theme and structure, and then commentary on the text itself. Depending on your theological background, you might be looking for different things in this commentary than other readers. If you know what you’re looking for in an OTL volume, there’s no doubt you will find it here.
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.