1 and 2 Samuel (TOTC) by V. Philips Long

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Can you imagine the task that you would have before you if you were charged to write a commentary on a portion of scripture the length of both books of Samuel and stick to the typical parameters of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (TOTC) series? To make it worse, you would have to allow within those constraints that your task was to delve into some of the most beloved stories of scripture. Did V. Phillips Long get the job done? Yes. How did he do it? Pithiness.

The trick would be to make every sentence count. There would be no room for fluff and every paragraph would have to carry quite a load. All of that you will find here. To make it even better, theological accuracy is not sacrificed and getting out such a myriad of details.

You will see the author’s pithiness in the introduction. To be honest, I found it ideal. Unlike many introductions, it sticks to the type of information that will actually do a Bible student much good. I noticed an honesty as well. For example, Long was willing to admit that there is no clear structure to the books of Samuel other than telling the story as it happened. The Lord, of course, develops the appropriate theology in the text. But this story is a history, a history that the Lord carried out in the persons of Samuel, Saul, and David. These stories need no help in being thrilling, only that we not miss the point of those stories.

I read some passages in this commentary that I thought are some of the more challenging to commentate on. Again the value of saying more with less was clear. I found myself nodding in agreement with the theological implications of the text brought out as well. The things in the story that needed explaining were well explained. The goal to illuminate more than the obvious was accomplished.

This is a fine commentary. Bible student, Sunday school teacher, or pastor we’ll find this a treat. That it is more economical than most helpful commentaries cements its value. You will enjoy 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.

Romans (KEL) by John Harvey

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I’ll be honest. When I first thumbed through this book, I wasn’t impressed at all. It looked too brief for an exegetical commentary. Then I started digging into it and I became more and more impressed. First, we need not forget that some commentaries are written for pastors or serious Bible students rather than scholars. That is the case here. Come to think of it, there isn’t exactly a shortage of those voluminous exegetical works on Romans! Second, there’s much to be said for writing succinctly with clarity. That is clearly present in this work. At times he says as many meaningful things in a paragraph that some of those larger commentaries would need 10 pages to say.

The Introduction was actually enjoyable to read. He made historical background actually interesting to read. When he delved into deeper, more scholarly issues, he gave a number of particularly helpful charts to synthesize his presentation. I give him kudos for all of them.

The commentary was a solid work. There were a few instances where Romans has become controversial that he did not say as much as many other writers. He usually outlined the various viewpoints, but didn’t seem to want to bog down in making that what his work was known for. He never lost his focus on pastors and Bible students. In some ways, the commentary reminded me of one of the better NAC volumes. In any event, this is a commentary worth having.

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.

Joshua, Judges, Ruth (RCS), edited by N. Scott Amos

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This latest volume of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture equals its predecessors in laying bear the contributions of the Reformation Era to the respective area of scripture. Somehow, at least in my opinion, this volume was a little more fun. Perhaps it is because the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth are at once unique and even controversial. What you will soon see is that passages that invite all sorts of wrestling among students had the same grappling with a text in the days of the Reformation. Particularly, some of those wild stories in the latter part of the Book of Judges prove for interpreters to run circles in trying to form an interpretation. From what I can see, we have not improved upon their commentating despite our decades of exegetical work.

Mr. Amos did a good job in the Introduction in describing his research. You will likely find answers to questions you will later have, like say, why are there fewer Anabaptist citations in this work compared to other RCS volumes. It’s simple if Mr. Amos is accurate. Very few Anabaptist authors tackled these books of the Bible. He lays out clearly what the Reformation had to offer in these three books from each strand of Reformation thinking.

The layout of this volume is identical to the others and Mr. Amos seems right at home in that setup. There are always many decisions to be made in what to put in and what to leave out, but I found many interesting contributions in what we find here. I enjoyed how he pointed out that whatever comments different Reformation personalities had about who wrote each of these books, that they had an overwhelming sense that the Holy Spirit was the ultimate author. I’m glad he didn’t scold these giants of biblical interpretation with modern gibberish.

This is a fine series that makes a distinct contribution and I find this one of the best books it has given us so far.

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.

Including the Stranger (NSBT) by David Firth

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This book has two things in his favor. It’s another of these unique entries in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series, edited by D. A. Carson, that are theologically astute and make a distinct contribution to both scholarship and biblical studies.The other plus is that renowned scholar David Firth contributes this volume in his area of expertise, the Former Prophets which include Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. In fact, Firth has already delivered an outstanding commentary on the books of Samuel. His deft hand shows throughout this volume.

His premise is that a unifying theme of these Former Prophets Is the treatment of strangers or foreigners. It is a theory that he very well may convince you on because (It made sense to me). Even if it isn’t the overarching theme of these books, it is at least in play in a key way.

To my mind even if you don’t agree with his premise, you have something of a fine introduction to each of these historical books of the Old Testament. In fact, I could not imagine studying these books without consulting this work going forward. To me, it almost does what Barry Webb’s “Five Festal Garments” does for the Five Scrolls. Count this another winner in an outstanding series.

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.

The Book of the Twelve by Michael Shepherd (Kregel Exegetical Commentary)

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This commentary will serve as a handy help to pastors and Bible students. Since there is only a little over 500 pages of actual commentary covering all 12 of the Minor Prophets, it is obvious that Mr. Shepherd has not attempted to produce the typical prolix commentary of our day. What he has provided, however, is direct help on grasping both the meaning and overarching theme of these prophets. His stated niche,that to my mind he has accomplished, is presenting these 12 prophets as a unified composition. In other words, instead of 12 random prophecies that so lacked cohesiveness that they were not even fully integrated within themselves, he paints a portrait of the Lord designing them as so unified that they should never be completely thought of by themselves. You can’t deny that that is a refreshing approach after years of commentators trying to decide if each passage within each of these prophecies is even legitimate!

It will be extra important to read the introduction to this work as he makes his case for the cohesiveness and unity of these prophecies. I personally thought this introduction read well and made a lot of sense.

The commentary proper lacks the thoroughness of some other works, but what he shares is good all around. Perhaps it shows the forest better than the trees, but that is no problem. There are plenty of other commentaries to analyze those trees!

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.

Revelation (ZECNT) by Buist Fanning

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This latest release of the ZECNT Is a fine exegetical commentary on the highly-debatable Book of Revelation. Personally, I always give commentators a little slack because this book manages to trip them coming out of the gate in almost every instance. In other words, the reader is going to approach both the book and the commentary with his or her own theological system. For that reason, no matter what the perspective of the commentator happens to be, he or she is going to start out with a much higher group of detractors than if, say, they had written on the Gospels or one of the Epistles. Fanning has done the best that could be done. He has tried to write a commentary that would be helpful to the widest number of readers without rigidly lobbing off whole swaths of them. He does, however, lean toward positions that would be labeled futurist as opposed to historist. Still, he is fair to all. More importantly, the exegesis and examination of structure are both rock solid. No, I don’t agree with every interpretive point he makes, but what commentator on Revelation could hope for that from any of us? The point that must not be lost is that this commentary can help you as you wrestle with this challenging book of the Bible.

I thought the introduction was exceptional. Throughout, he both lays out varying opinions and respectfully submits his own. He begins by talking about authorship and really does not land on one outlook himself in this case since he doesn’t find it critical to the overall interpretation of the book. He discusses date and setting, genre with an emphasis on prophecy, imagery and symbols, all before he addresses the thorny subject of hermeneutical approaches. He explains both the importance and the specifics of the use of the Old Testament in this book and how to view prophecy and typology. I thought his discussion of topology was particularly apropos. He discusses text, language and style, before he dives into structure and outline which is an emphasis of this series. He gives a lot of outstanding insights before he provides his own outline. There is a select bibliography given as well.

The commentary proper follows the typical style of this series and is quite helpful. There were just a few places I wish he had said a little more. Still, when you talk about what you really need to learn in an exegetical commentary you will find it all here in spades. The end of the book gives a nice summary of the theology of Revelation too.

He probably does for a futurist position what Beale does for the modern fad of an eclectic position. You’ll need both. Therefore, you should probably put this in the must-get category.

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.

Joel (ZECOT) by Joel Barker

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I have really enjoyed these early volumes in the ZECOT series and this new title is no exception. Joel Barker provides another competent exegetical commentary with an emphasis on discourse analysis this time on the Book of Joel. Unlike other mostly unprofitable types of criticism, discourse analysis renders real insights into the text. If you are looking for a standalone commentary on the Book of Joel, this volume will definitely meet your needs.

After he offers his own translation of Joel he jumps into an effective introduction to the Book of Joel. By the first few paragraphs, you can tell that the author enjoys Joel. To be sure, that always makes a commentary better. He offers six theories for the historical context of Joel. He lays them out clearly and makes it easy for one to evaluate. I might not agree with his final conclusion, but I appreciate his defining the issues. He makes a wonderful case for the literary integrity of Joel. I tend to find that with every book of the Bible, but I appreciate his compelling case that should answer any critic. He looks at Joel’s place among the Minor Prophets as well as describing Joel from the perspective of rhetorical discourse. He proves here that he is up to speed on those issues as you would expect for this series. I really appreciated his thoughts about the structure of Joel as well.

The commentary proper follows the usual ZECOT pattern. He does an outstanding job here. My only caveat to that statement is his discussion of 2:28-32. I know we have to first place these scriptures in the context of the prophet’s time, but I just felt he was a little brief on the importance of this passage in the New Testament. Still, this is first-rate commentary on a book of the Bible where you’re likely to need it. I’d rank this commentary a winner!

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.

The Gospel of the Son of God by David Bauer

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David Bauer is the right person to write this academic introduction to the Gospel of Matthew. I’ve known for years that Mr. Bauer has followed in the footsteps of Jack Dean Kingsbury. Kingsbury’s writings on Matthew first fascinated me well over a decade ago. In fact, this volume divides the book of Matthew in the same three places that Kingsbury first did. I find that division to be quite helpful and accurate. Bauer takes the best of Kingsbury and expands it to all that we have learned since and offering his own additional conclusions.

Part one called an orientation covers form and genre, approach and method, circumstances of composition, and shape of composition in four chapters. I got the least out of this section especially as the theories of composition don’t do much for me. Academic tops will still likely work through it.

Part two is where the book starts to shine offering an interpretation in three chapters along the lines of the aforementioned division of Matthew’s gospel. There is brilliant insight to be found here.

Part three entitled reflection gives us 5 chapters looking at the Christological titles of Jesus, additional aspects of christology, God, salvation history and eschatology, and discipleship. You will find outstanding nuggets along the way even if there are occasional statements that you find totally subversive to your thinking. Take the book as one requiring a little digging to remove its treasure with a little junk to move out of the way and the gospel of Matthew will come alive to you in a whole new way.

I see this book as the pinnacle of a key interpretive arc of Matthew’s gospel. In that sense, it will be an indispensable volume.

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.

Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation

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If you happened to have the Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels, You will be glad to see this wonderful volume that finishes the New Testament from Acts through Revelation. The quality and depth of geographic information and how it plays into the story on the page remains just as high. Maybe you are like me and you are not as up to speed on the geography outside of Israel as you are that of Israel itself. If that be true for you as it is for me, then perhaps this volume will be even more important than the first one.

The quality of writing by a group of top-notch scholars, the appropriateness of pictures and illustrations, and the usefulness of maps make this an incredible resource. Mark this down as one of the greatest Bible study needs you have that you weren’t even aware of. My only small complaint is that the size of the font and particularly of maps is smaller than ideal. My guess is that the smaller font became necessary because of the incredible amount of information they are giving us. It would have been much more expensive but I wonder if this might have been better as two volumes than one. In any event, it is an extraordinary resource that could be a blessing to anyone at any level from Bible student to scholar. I give this attractive hardback volume the highest possible 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.

Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon (RCS), edited by Gatiss and Green

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This latest entry in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture (RCS) series covers six small Pauline epistles (1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). Though these letters of Paul are not quite as pivotal as recent releases in the series on Romans in understanding the Reformation, they still give great insight into both Paul and key Reformation thinking. Two scholars, Lee Gatiss and Bradley G. Green, combine forces to provide us this helpful volume in a series that makes a unique contribution to our studies.

There is the usual general introduction that adorns every volume in this series which lays out how this series is put together and what it hopes to accomplish before we receive an introduction to the six letters. This introduction begins by stating how the Reformation seized on Paul in laser-like fashion. I was almost surprised at how often the authors acknowledge the New Perspective on Paul. It almost seems that they assume it might be guiding reader’s opinions and must be often taken into account. To my mind, the NPP didn’t exist in the Reformation and doesn’t have the credence in many of our minds that some may think today and so might not need much discussion in a commentary like this one. Still, I don’t think these acknowledgments really detract from the commentary overall. More to the point, they did a great job of addressing how each of these letters was received in the Reformation. In another capitulation to modern times, they cited the few writings that were positive about women in the ministry. Whatever your view on that subject, there is no denying how few believed in that possibility prior to the last century.

I found the same strengths and weaknesses as with other volumes in the series. To be fair, the weaknesses can’t be helped as citations in the commentary are of necessity arbitrary. Someone must make the call for which writings to use in the commentary from the plethora of primary sources to choose from. The strengths are from the same area in that the authors have chosen well and given wonderful food for thought. They are wonderfully fair to a variety of teaching within and near the Reformation as well.

This series is far enough along to have earned a high rating and this volume clearly upholds the standard we have come to expect.

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.