Jeremiah (NICOT) by John Goldingay

The NICOT gets a major replacement in this massive commentary on Jeremiah. The series likewise snagged a prolific scholar in John Goldingay to provide this commentary on one of the harder books of the Old Testament. One can only marvel at the output of Goldingay, and whatever you might think of him, you can find no evidence of haste in this thorough production. As I perused this volume, I repeatedly found myself thinking what intense and intimate time he has spent in Jeremiah. Both the depth and scope are impressive. I can just imagine what a conversation on Jeremiah with Goldingay would be like. I bet he could cite the most obscure passages to make his point.

Before I discuss the particulars of this commentary, I must admit that this commentary is easily, by a wide margin, my favorite work by Goldingay. For comparison’s sake, I find this work much more useful than his work on Daniel in the WBC series. The format may have helped that be so, but the work itself was better to me across the board. Sometimes Goldingay makes conclusions in his writings that seem bewildering to me for an evangelical to make, and though that occasionally shows up here, he seems to mention those things but concludes more evenly this time around.

The first part of the Introduction really shines. Here we find background information that really opens Jeremiah to our understanding. In the section on the unity of composition he thoroughly discusses five major perspectives (he calls horizons). Some are nonsense, but all are exquisitely explained. He covers authorship and date next and makes Jeremiah come alive even if one can’t agree with all he says. After canonicity and textual discussions, he dives into an enlightening presentation of Jeremiah’s theology. Don’t miss the last section called “analysis of contents”. “Wow” is the word that comes to mind there.

The commentary proper also shows a depth that impresses. What are you looking for? Background? Textual matters? Theology? Details? Big picture? It’s all to be found here. Again, you may not agree with all he says, but you will leave knowing far more than you came with on the passage. As you probably know, that can’t always be said in commentaries, even major ones. In far to many of them, the mass of details can’t be harnessed and made into anything of substance.

I’ll rate this commentary higher than I expected when I first cracked it open. It’s a big one. In size and usefulness.

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.

Matthew (RCS), Edited by Lee & Marsh

The RCS continues its unearthing of old treasure in this latest volume on Matthew edited by Jason K. Lee and William M. Marsh. I don’t know about you, but I see the gospel of Matthew as an ideal book of the Bible for the type of insight you can gain from this RCS series. There’s just something about Matthew’s uniqueness, his beautiful parables and miracles, and fascinating stories from the ministry of Jesus Christ that has enthralled Christians for centuries. Because of that beauty, gems of understanding from another time to help us grasp its riches and effectively interpret are especially inviting.

As has been surprisingly uniform across the volumes of this series that I have encountered, copious research has gone into pulling out the most meaningful nuggets from the Reformation era. As is always the case as well, they do not allow themselves to only quote their favorite authors, but truly give a real swath across the spectrum that puts a major historical epoch in perspective. The same general introduction and an overview of the contributors to Reformation writings is found here as in every other volume, but there is a nice historical introduction to what will be finding in Matthew. From there, you have those wonderful writings for each passage that are the most meaningful.

You are not going to agree with everything that you read here. How could you? All the writers that are quoted in it don’t even agree with each other. That is not the point. If you were wondering how this might help you in your studies, besides the obvious historical understanding, it is all these treats that are the icing on the cake you made in your exegetical work. Read it near the end of your studies and that icing will be a tasty treat.

This volume on Matthew is truly up to the mark of all the wonderful contributions that have already come down the pike in this series. I give it my full recommendation.

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.

Colossians and Philemon (Kerux)

This is my first chance to review an entry in the newer Kerux Commentaries series. From what I can see, this series is designed for the bottom line of preaching, or in other words, seeing what is necessary to put together a message or a lesson on the passage. There are even two authors. One is the exegetical author while the other is the homiletical author. I don’t know how often it is the case, but in this instance it doesn’t appear the two authors even knew each other that well before this project. Fortunately, that didn’t seem to degrade from the work. The series states that it is “based on the text-driven Big Idea preaching model”.

This series is clearly aimed at the busy Pastor or the serious Sunday school teacher. It’s not going to waste its time on many of the more detailed aspects of a major exegetical commentary. That is no problem at all as there are those type of works available if you need them. This volume could not replace them, but it is not intended to. In other words, I believe there is a place for a series of this nature.

It also has that more eye-appealing look found in works aimed at a wider audience. Some passages are in darker shaded boxes, there are occasional helpful graphs or charts, and succinct asides with helpful information. It would be accurate to call it user-friendly.

For each passage, you begin with a one-page summary that gives an exegetical idea,a theological focus, a preaching idea, and a slightly longer section of preaching pointers. From there, the author is explaining to giving a literary structure and themes overview followed by an exposition of the text. While not overly long or extensive, it is not shallow. They often provide the Greek next to phrases they are explaining, which may not be needed for their intended audience. Still, they do a good job at getting to the heart of the passage and providing what is helpful for teaching or preaching. After they finish their exegesis, they have a section on theological focus followed by one on preaching and teaching strategies. To really aid the busy pastor or teacher, they end with a section of contemporary connections and discussion questions. If you want help with exegesis, but like to take it from there, the last section might not be as helpful. Others will love it. Its value will likely depend on you.

Overall, I find this volume to be a successful entry at reaching the stated aims of the series as I understand them. The two authors made a cohesive work and offered real help on Colossians and Philemon. There is value 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.