Goldingay is a prolific writer of commentaries to say the least. Sometimes you wonder if he has some captive researchers locked up in his basement. As Baker expands its major commentaries in the OT, we find that he will soon have in print a commentary for them in the Pentateuch, History, Wisdom, and Prophetic sections. At what point is he just showing out?
More seriously, I really like this commentary. In over a decade of book reviewing, I’ve found myself not particularly liking some of his earlier ones that I reviewed and then really liking his more recent contributions like Jeremiah and Lamentations. Maybe he changed. His comments don’t strike me as subversive as before to be sure. Maybe I changed. I had to make myself admit the possibility.
So for this review I want to focus on specifically why this volume and his other recent ones ( I hadn’t seen his Genesis or Joshua yet) are so effective. When you pick up this volume, read the Author’s Preface that mostly describes the process of how he wrote this commentary. I wish all commentaries told this information up front. Later it hit me. He didn’t just collate a mass of scholarly details (a fair description of many modern works), but he had something to say himself. He is one of the leading OT scholars today, so isn’t that as it should be? I can look up what everyone else says myself. I like to hear what the author has to say. The footnotes will back up this assertion.
Further, he has settled into a comfortable, mature, capable writing style that belies his scholarly prowess mingled with effective communication that belies his years of teaching. He writes as one who wants to get his message across and has honed the skills necessary to do it. In his paragraphs both what he has learned and what you have just learned rise to the top.
His next great strength is in OT background. Again, offering to us from his decades of work that we don’t have. Only when his assertion arises from critical assumptions alone does he miss. He often transports the reader to Bible times. He harnesses a mass of details and makes it a palatable morsel to swallow. He is closer to average on theology and structure, but he excels in bringing to bear the broad sweep of OT times while sitting you down in a particular text. That is really how he stands out in the pack and that really helps in these lesser-known Minor Prophets.
This book is not as long as some on just one of these prophets from Hosea to Micah, but I bet it will do you as much good. I still must spar with him in places. “Wind” instead of “spirit” in Joel 2. Ok, whatever. The historicity of Jonah? I knew that was coming. At least he said it was still authoritative. The whole theological message of Obadiah is that “God will take redress”. That’s it? Really? I could list more examples, but there are far more places where he taught me something. Even where he failed to convince me, he often made me think. I can overlook a few places where I rolled my eyes to get all that good stuff. And of course you, the reader of this review, might have rolled your eyes at me instead at these disputed points.
I like this volume so much that I wonder if I should go back and look up and review a few of his that I missed along the way like, say, the Psalms. In any event, you can’t miss with this one.
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.