This volume on Lamentations by F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp in the Interpretation Bible Commentary series is likely the most referenced volume in the whole series. I’ve seen it mentioned in many places including the most respected listings of valuable commentaries. Its success is partially rooted in its thoroughness compared to others in the series. Here you have 159 pages on the 5 chapters of Lamentations. For comparison, the companion commentary in the series on Jeremiah’s 52 chapters rounds out at 275 pages. You can make some prediction on that coverage alone. Beyond the depth of coverage is the quality of theological reflection itself. There are places the discussion goes off the rails with its critical outlook and troubling conclusions about God to be sure, but Dobbs-Allsopp turns the theological spade to the same profit as the better volumes in this series.
The Introduction is much more thorough than many I’ve read in the series too. There is a broad sweep of several introductory issues including date and authorship with typical critical conclusions before the author slows down for one of his favorite topics: literary features. He defines the genre as “city-lament” and says it’s written in lyric poetry. He carefully weaves through metaphor, diction, wordplay, pun, euphony, alphabetic acrostic, and enjambment. The balance of the Introduction is on theology. I found more value here.
The commentary itself upholds the standards established in the Introduction. As is true of some of the better titles in this series, it competes for the title of the best commentary from the critical perspective. Adele Berlin is its main rival, but the intentions of the two are different. Berlin aims at the scholar while this volume pitches itself to teachers and preachers. Pick according to your need, but this is a successful choice to grasp the critical approach and glean its theological contributions.
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