Genesis (BCOT) by Goldingay

Goldingay marches on. He seems to turn out commentaries at the pace other scholars turn out articles. How he does that is a mystery to which I can make no contribution. I’m sure some would say had he slowed down he might have, say, written a more detailed and meaningful Introduction for Genesis here. Those same observers would be hard pressed, though, to deny his penchant to turn a phrase or to make his work stand out. I think if I read just a few pages of his work I could peg him as the writer. I don’t mean idiosyncratic in a heavy way, but unique and lively.

His viewpoint is predictable and grates on me at times (perhaps because he doesn’t bury it in lifeless prose), but in recent years I’ve found it more palatable. The more I think about it, I suppose neither he nor I have changed our outlook much, but he puts more charming concepts at the center of his presentation even if things I vehemently disagree with sometimes underlies his position. Perhaps commentary series like this one (BCOT) line up best with his gifts. Or at least it seems so to me. (On that score, I see real potential in this recently-birthed series).

For the record, I came to this particular volume thinking there’s no way I would like it as much as his work on Hosea-Micah in this same series. And to some degree that’s true but it wasn’t overly a self-fulfilling prophecy on my part. I know what Goldingay believes but I still try to listen to what he says. There was some of what I don’t like; for example, his explanation of genre. To formulate categories centuries after the fact and then read them back as if more informative than what was said, and then to reduce divine Scripture to just another writing, strikes me as disingenuous, at least for believers. To deny the underlying premise that drives such thinking—God could not have done these things so we must find a more polite explanation—is one thing I’ve never understood from scholars who help us in so many other ways. But I digress.

Still, I did enjoy this volume more than I expected. I love how in a few paragraphs he neutered the whole Documentary Hypothesis. Throughout the text, he provided so many brilliant insights or things I had never thought of before. This more than compensated for his brief introduction. I don’t need a commentary to be the best in every area, only brilliant in some ways makes it much worthwhile to me. Sometimes Goldingay gets into real life for those on the pages of the Bible and that I love. Sometimes I scratch my head too, but he makes me think.

With my usual caveats for Goldingay, I warmly recommend this commentary!

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.

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