Signs of the Messiah by Andreas Kostenberger

Andreas Kostenberger has been writing on John’s Gospel for years. I’ve used all of his titles on John to advantage. While this volume may never be as well-known as his commentary on John, nor his upcoming major new commentary on John, I think this book is something of a little jewel that Bible students ought not to overlook. To be sure, it is a perfect example of where a scholar writes some of the best the profession can give pastors or those doing intense study of Scripture. Or what is even better is that there is little jargon or extraneous material to have to wade through to get to the good stuff! When scholars take the details of a book and formulate its structure they present to us something that is truly helpful. That is what you will find here!


The introduction is not a complete introduction to the gospel of John, but rather an explanation of what this book is trying to accomplish. It takes the signs (you will learn what they are if you don’t already know) and break the gospel of John down into units. Within the unit, he explains the sign that was given and what Jesus was accomplishing and the Book of John particularly. There are riches in every chapter.

I thought the several charts throughout the book were a wonderful aid to what you were learning and crystallized in one visual what you were trying to grasp.


I disagreed with a few fine points of detail, many of which were only in the footnotes, but overall I agreed with his conclusions and thought the work was awesome. This book will probably never be the most famous one written by this author, but it will do you as much good as any of them.

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.

Ezra-Nehemiah (NIVAC)

There is always cause for celebration when a major commentary series reaches completion. That is the case with this final volume in the NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC) series covering Ezra and Nehemiah. Some series never reach that milestone, or if they still will, we can at least say that multiple decades have not been long enough yet. As I understand it, this series has also been widely used, so reaching completion is even more praiseworthy.

This last volume, not counting revisions that may come in the years ahead, is up to the level that you usually get in this series. I can’t recall a case where I’ve seen an important commentary being written by a married couple like this one written by Donna and Thomas Petter. It is almost comical to imagine what this entry entailed to produce. In the preface, you can even tell that they are a little self-conscious about it. After a little chuckle, you will see, though, that the finished product is one where the authors pulled off what they set out to do.

There is a solid introduction to both Ezra and Nehemiah that addresses literary and historical setting, political background, authorship and date, intended audience, structure, and theological themes. The scholarship is mostly conservative. That is followed by some nice maps and charts, a detailed outline, and a select bibliography.

The commentary proper follows the typical NIVAC style of translation, original meaning, bridging contexts, and contemporary significance. I found the original meaning section to be outstanding. The application is more hit than miss. I don’t think I’m being harsh in reviewing it in those terms because I ultimately see most such attempts at contemporary application that way. To be fair, what we have here is better than most.

Most people don’t study Nehemiah and Ezra as often as they do many other biblical books, so this commentary may suffice as the only resource for many Bible students for those neglected books. For pastors and those doing deeper studies, this will be a worthwhile volume to have at hand with other key titles. I recommend it.

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.

Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (TOTC) by S. D. Snyman

S. D. Snyman has turned out a little gem in the ongoing revision of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (TOTC) series on the exciting books of Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah. This volume along with a few other recent releases show us what is an emphasis in this round of revision in the long-running series: exegesis and theology. Previous volumes highlighted ANE background and other such details. This new emphasis is far better for us who use them. I am pleased!

This volume on three Minor Prophets who should be far better known is one of my favorites so far. I hope my love of these three prophets isn’t jacking up my review of this book, but it surely is a fine offering.

There is a general introduction to the three prophets and their writing that is brief but really gets you oriented. Each book is given introduction and commentary in turn. There are seven or eight pages of introduction, which is for this series what Goldilocks would call “just right”. I was impressed with what was accomplished within that brevity. It says as much as some larger works that can never tell the difference between the center and the tangent. When you get to the commentary you really have a basic grasp of what’s going on in the respective book. He does mention where scholars diverge and disagree, but he never allows the book to confuse that with what is most important.

The commentary is great. It doesn’t go as deep or say as much as some of the larger works, but that is not this series’ goal. Again, it is more to the point and you do know what is going on in the passage. There are many rich statements that will help you as you work through these books that you might not be especially familiar with.

Mark this volume down as an A+. I sincerely hope this series can keep this fine level of quality in the volumes that are still coming down the pike.

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.

Hosea (TOTC) by Robin Routledge

Here is yet another new volume in the rapidly unfolding complete makeover of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (TOTC) series. In my judgment, these more up-to-date new titles are holding their own against the famous selections that we have seen from this series in the past. To be sure, Robin Routledge delivers a home run in this take on Hosea.

The introduction begins by stating the context of Hosea. He explains historically where they are in the northern kingdom of Israel including political developments that defined the times. He develops the religious context as well, which as you would guess is essential to understanding Hosea’s ministry. Along the way, he will have considerable discussion about how Hosea’s marriage to Gomer should be viewed. It all seems wonderfully balanced.

He also explained Hosea’s place among the Minor Prophets as well as in the Old Testament at large including connections to Deuteronomy and Jeremiah. He next explained textual issues before delving into the theology and message of the book.

The commentary proper delivered the sort of thing that those who study the Bible would be looking for in this type of commentary. In every passage he set the context and gave commentary with real depth.

All the new volumes in this series that I have seen so far range from competent to very good. Mark this one down on the side of very good. I highly recommend it.

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.

1 & 2 Peter and Jude by Schreiner (CSC)

Only recently did I notice that the NAC series, which I’ve always loved, is being revised and re-cast as the Christian Standard Commentary (CSC). This first revision is on 1 & 2 Peter and Jude and updates the popular commentary by highly-respected scholar Thomas Schreiner. I had the privilege of using the part on Jude extensively a few years ago. I’m glad this commentary is receiving this revision.

I found the case to be exactly what the author stated in his preface. He has updated and revised, he has rewritten sentences, he has surveyed more recent scholarship, but he has not changed his mind. I carefully reviewed the bibliography and several of the footnotes. If that is your need, you will want this new commentary because there seems to be significant interaction with later works. If you are a pastor or teacher, what is revised might not be your main focus. Still, this volume has always been one of the most highly-rated in the NAC and sets the bar high for this new CSC.

As for this new CSC series, these new volumes are attractive. I always liked the look of the NAC and thought it looked better than several other series on the shelf, but these new volumes are even nicer and have a crisp, smooth look. I like the dust jackets, I like the binding, I like the font of the text, I like the font of the footnotes, and I like the overall layout and look of the whole book. Some series print volumes that look like little more than an afterthought, but this volume is sharp!

The work is top-notch here, and this volume is essential on Peter and Jude!

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.

Discovering the New Testament (Volume 2) by Mark Keown

This volume continues the excellence found in the first volume on the Gospels and Acts. If anything, this volume is even better because it lies in the author’s area of expertise. He has written a major exegetical commentary on Philippians that is outstanding. This volume covers only the Pauline Epistles, which are worthy of their own volume.

There is a biographical chapter on Paul’s life and conversion which discusses all issues of chronology as well. Chapter 2 gives an overall induction to all of these epistles. Chapters 3 through 13 take each of these epistles in turn. In each case, we are presented with occasion and context, structure, rhetorical devices, form of letters, authorship, a discussion on its placement in the Pauline corpus, and concluded with some questions to consider. To me they seemed well reasoned, judicious, and mature.

There’s a chapter on Paul’s thought in theology that approaches theology by key subjects. As you would expect, the main topics are here as well as the New Perspective on Paul. Appropriately, there is a concluding chapter on Paul’s missionary strategy.

When I encountered the first volume, I felt it would be a replacement for Merrill Tenny’s widely used New Testament introduction. On reflection, this set will be so much more than that. The three volume set by Hiebert that was found in so many personal libraries a few decades back is a closer comparison, except that this set is at once more up-to-date and better. I am impressed with everything I’ve seen from Mark Keown’s hand. This fine volume does nothing to lessen that opinion. To my mind, this will be when concluded THE New Testament introduction set.

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.

Hebrews (TNTC) by David Peterson

The TNTC continues its series revision with this new release on Hebrews by highly-respected scholar David Peterson. That Peterson mentions his respect and friendship with Peter O’Brien only raises expectations for me. As it turns out, this commentary is a success delivering high quality within the parameters of this series. There are more detailed commentaries that you will need, but this is the perfect volume to be your choice from a mid-range commentary series.

The 55 pages of introduction to Hebrews is quite well done. Though this series calls for more brevity, this introduction packs quite a punch. Everything covered ranges from either solid to excellent. By far, my favorite part was looking at the details of Hebrews to arrive at a theme. Though the author concluded with a less narrow explanation than most, he was outstanding in marshaling a host of pertinent information for us to consider. You can really do some digging in what Hebrews is about in this section.

The commentary proper is judicious and shows the work of a mature scholar. I don’t always follow him in his conclusions, but I can always follow his train of thought which is essential in good commentary writing. Perhaps he could’ve done more on the warning passages, or maybe my problem is just that I didn’t always agree with what he was saying. You can decide for yourself.

In these days of the spiking number of commentaries available with a corresponding spiraling of price, this series and this specific commentary is a truly good choice. I warmly recommend it.

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.

Ephesians (NICNT) by Cohick

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.

Daniel (EEC) by Tanner

Wow! What a great commentary! I can’t really think of a category where this commentary couldn’t be described with superlatives. It just happens to be the first commentary in the EEC series to be released with this attractive new design. There’s far more than an attractive cover here, however, as this is a first-class commentary. I know the term “instant classic” is cliché, but I’m willing to argue that is the case. If you see some lower ratings out there, ignore them. Unfairly, commentaries on the book of Daniel are often assigned a grade based on the authors prophetic opinions before the book is even opened. I don’t personally see how someone with a different background on prophecy matters would not feel duty-bound to admit what an incredible work we have here.

What I found between these covers was incredible depth, perceptive insight, clear reasoning, and good writing. The scholarship is impeccable, yet isn’t overly dense as is so often the case. I think you will agree with me before you are even halfway through the introduction. Discussions about the text, Aramaic words, and other grammatical and literary questions is all you could hope for and certainly all you would ever need. I find discussions of structure more helpful to pastors and Bible students than some of the other information in these commentaries, and what he presents here could be a clinic on how to discuss structure in a way that enlivens one’s understanding of a biblical book. He not only explains varying opinions on structure, but more importantly he gives cogent analysis of their strengths and weaknesses. You are left with an opportunity to conclude on your own.

The commentary proper is equally commendable. There is the explanation that pastors and Bible students need along with discussions of grammar in the original languages and plenteous bibliographies for scholars.

To put it in perspective, I found this commentary markedly more helpful than, say, the recent revision of Goldingay’s WBC work. That work is more critical than some like to admit while this work is not afraid to believe as it explains. Some might prefer the more straightforward NAC volume, but by design it doesn’t cover everything as this one does.

Force me to only keep one commentary on the book of Daniel, and this is the one you will see in my hands.

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.

Hosea (ZECOT) by Jerry Hwang

Several of these earlier volumes in the ZECOT series have gravitated to the relatively shorter Minor Prophets. This volume by Jerry Hwang continues demonstrating the promise that the distinctive style of the ZECOT holds. Perhaps the series emphasis on discourse analysis shines even brighter in these Minor Prophets, though I look forward to all its volumes. Hwang grasps clearly all aspects of discourse analysis and similar scholarly tools and makes a real contribution here.

The introduction is thorough. At times the prose is stuffy, but the content is rich. I think pastors and students will be rewarded for waiting through language that might be a bit more scholarly than preferred. Still, this is not a scholars-only commentary.

The select bibliography is a bit too select, but the historical background to the prophecy as well as what the author calls “Hosea’s distinctive theology in its cultural context” is well done. The concepts discussed strike me as the best scholarship can offer the Bible student. Again, it may be heavy going it is verbiage, but you will be able to weigh the ideas that make up the theme of Hosea. The section on the contribution to Christian theology is too brief but on target. There is also a detailed outline for the book.

The commentary proper is never trite. Clearly the author took his time to produce a significant commentary. By now you are probably familiar with the ZECOT style and he is comfortable in it and puts it to good use. This commentary does not duplicate other volumes and is good as either a first or a second choice. I’m glad to have this commentary at my disposal.

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.