This volume joins two others on Colossians and Philemon by Scot McKnight to replace the influential and long-standing volume by F. F. Bruce on these three wonderful New Testament books in the venerable New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) series. Don’t you suppose contributing this commentary on Ephesians would be a daunting task both for its high-altitude theology and in following in Bruce’s footsteps? Cohick mentions as much in the preface.
Did Cohick succeed? I think for the most part she did. The farther I got into the introduction the more I liked it. The conclusions are pretty conservative. As you are probably aware, if you are going to write on Ephesians these days, you must address authorship and pseudepigrapha issues. As she notes, the answer to the question of whether Ephesians is a genuine Pauline letter will profoundly affect the trajectory of a commentary. If you were like me and have no doubt about Paul’s writing of this letter, these issues are something of a pothole on the road to understanding. Nevertheless, any good commentary must discuss it in depth and she does a good job. She lays out the arguments clearly and if you are wrestling with this you would do well to read what she has to say. Textual and historical background are also sufficiently covered, as are structure and theology. The NPP gets only about three pages which is precisely what it deserves.
I found the commentary proper to be thoughtful and helpful. It was neither too slim nor too verbose. She is especially adept at laying out arguments and reasoning to conclusions. You don’t have to, of course, agree to profit from that skill she brings to bear.
I do have one caveat in my recommendation. It’s only about one small section and perhaps I would rank its importance higher than you would, but I will share and you can decide. In her preface she mentions the “inflammatory” Household Codes, not in quotes but her words. That bias seemed present in the commentary on that section. Perhaps it was just me, but I thought her fine reasoning skills were not as present here. My more conservative position is disagreed with in many commentaries I read, so I’m used to that; but this section seemed a little agenda laden to me. When I rechecked her biography, it does turn out that she has written on the subject much in the past. It wouldn’t be fair to withhold a good recommendation over this one point involving one small section of the whole book, but you can at least be aware of it and see what you think when you look at it.
After reviewing the two new volumes on Colossians and Philemon recently, I feel that she has produced a work equal to the more well-known Scot McKnight. Warmly recommended.
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.
2 thoughts on “Ephesians (NICNT) by Cohick”
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Thank you for your review; it was pleasing to learn we were in lock-step on a majority of points concerning this fine commentary.
Addressing the elephant in the room: I believe one can be theologically conservative without necessarily subscribing to a so-called complementarian or hierarchical understanding with respect to gender issues in the Church generically, or to the haustafeln in Ephesians 5 specifically. I doubt anyone who has researched the subject in any depth can properly claim to being free from bias one way or the other on the issue, but my perspective as an Australian leads me to think the matter is more of a ‘touch-point’ within American evangelicalism than, perhaps, anywhere else.
In closing I support your overall assessment of the commentary, and thank you for posting the review. I too found Professor Cohick’s mature exegesis throughout both winsome and thought provoking.
Ian Thomason, PhD
Former Director, Tyndale College