The Origin of Paul’s Gospel by Seyoon Kim–A Classic!

book pauls gospel

The designation “classic” isn’t trite regarding this groundbreaking study by Seyoon Kim. It would not be hyperbole to say that this book could stand up against the 10 top books on the New Perspective on Paul and still come out ahead. With scholarly wizardry, Mr. Kim neuters the arguments of the NPP’s most influential proponents. While we can’t deny that this book leans heavily to the technical side, nor dispute the fact that it might be beyond the reach of the beginning student, it’s a tour de force on how to marshal the Scriptures themselves to craft tight arguments rather than the nebulous fair that much of the scholarly world releases these days.

Chapter 1 is essential to rank the most important elements of Paul, his theology, and his background. Chapter 2 is about Paul the persecutor and reviews his life before the Damascus experience. Many scholars hijack this background to form the basis of the later conclusions about Paul. As you will see here, they stretch a few facts much too thinly as well as creating others from thin air.

Chapter 3 is about Paul’s incredible experience on the road to Damascus. Mr. Kim returns to the clear portrait of Scripture that meeting Christ on the road to Damascus is exactly what changed Paul’s life and led to everything he believed. It’s sad that the scholarly world would rob us of the obvious and replace it with something that is obscure at best. Chapter 4 looks at Paul’s gospel, the revelation behind it and the mystery involved in his New Testament revelation. The balance of the book is three extended chapters on the Christology and soteriology at the core of Paul’s teaching.

There are a few other amazing things in this book. I was impressed with the extensive exegesis that was done on all kinds of passages. Fortunately, there are great indexes that makes this book an outstanding reference volume on your shelves as well. There are sections of this book that served better as a reference than afternoon reading. Still, the depth of thought is incredible.

We owe Wipf and Stock Publishers a debt of gratitude for keeping this important work in print. For the record, this book will still be important 20 years from now. It’s hard to explain how influential this book has been. In any event, it deserves a place in every serious library New Testament today.

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.

Isaiah (NIVAC) by Oswalt

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I love this book. It’s one of the best I’ve seen in the New International Version Application Commentary (NIVAC) series. Two words come to mind about the content of this commentary: mature and conservative. The tough questions are in no way dodged and quality, robust analysis can be found on every page. It probably helped that John Oswalt had already turned out an impressive commentary on Isaiah in the NICOT series. This second pass is something special.

The Introduction to Isaiah that he provides is rich, probing, and something different. Not that he fails to cover the normal introductory issues, but how he succeeds in tying these introductory issues to contemporary life is something to behold. The historical background he provides is a page turner. His conclusions in the section on authorship and date blow much of the absurd liberal scholarship that Isaiah has been subjected to right out of the water. The section on the central themes of Isaiah bring the book alive. He discusses the uniqueness of Jehovah, servanthood, the Lord of history, and realized righteousness. There’s some quality theology all across that section.

The commentary itself is excellent and follows the typical pattern of this series. Whether you agree with every conclusion he makes or not, you will find this commentary an outstanding asset to your studies. You need this book!

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.

Deuteronomy (NIVAC) by Daniel Block

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Daniel Block has this commentary-writing thing figured out. He has already excelled in the past with both Ezekiel and Judges/Ruth, and now he succeeds again with Deuteronomy in one that marries exegesis and application. To my mind, this is one of the finest commentaries in the New International Version Application Commentary (NIVAC) series.

In the preface you see Mr. Block’s love of Moses shine in the first paragraph. He literally brims with things to say about the Book of Deuteronomy. If you’ll do a little checking, you’ll find he has written some additional books with deep scholarly insights on Deuteronomy.

He gives us a fine introduction to Deuteronomy. He succeeds in imparting much scholarly information with the clarity that lends itself to this style of commentary. He begins by explaining the history of interpretation. He succinctly brings us through that history, and as you probably know, Deuteronomy has been subjected to some of the worst scholarship imaginable. He’s not sure if Moses wrote the book, but he has no doubt of the historicity of Moses and the authenticity of what is found in Deuteronomy. The section on hearing the message of Deuteronomy was well done and shows how Mr. Block finds fault with the place many take Deuteronomy. He sees it as a book with a great message for us today rather than just a foil to the New Testament. The brief section on theology gets to the heart of the matter and he explains structure and design with an expressive chart and thorough outline.

The commentary itself is the caliber you expect from Mr. Block. He is able to give helpful homiletic suggestions without ever resorting to fluff. The style of this commentary series that includes the sections of original meaning, bridging context, and contemporary significance is one that Mr. Block clearly mastered. The publishers allowed him more pages than many received in this series and he put them to good use. This commentary fills a real need and makes it to the must-buy 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.

I, II, III John (NTL) by Lieu

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This commentary in the New Testament Library (NTL) series published by WJK on the Epistles of John has been written by Judith Lieu who had worked previously on these epistles. As is common with this series, she writes from the critical angle. Not only is her work better than most from that viewpoint, but she pushes back against some of the critical conclusions of the past few decades that were, quite frankly, from left field. In this book, then, you will not only get the theological pointers that this series is known for but also more plausible critical conclusions.

The Introduction is also more in-depth than several that I have reviewed in this series. The Introduction begins with a look at the acceptance and interrelation between the three epistles of John. The next section discusses the setting and looks at author, audience, and situation. She sees more uncertainties than I do, but still finds ways in which these three epistles clearly go together. The next section looks at the structure, background, and the thought of the letters. That will include a look at argument and style, Johannine tradition, and an in-depth look at the thought of the letters. From there, we find a review of reception and text, the overall importance of the letter and a concluding brief section on translation and language.

In the commentary proper, we find good coverage in line with this type series of the three epistles amounting to over 250 pages of discussion. The same critical assumptions found in the introduction are present here, but it is, without doubt, one of the more thoughtful and clear critical presentations. A solid effort!

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 (2 volumes) by Frederick Dale Bruner

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I must confess that I looked forward to getting a look at this massive commentary on the Book of Matthew. Volume 1 alone looking at Matthew 1-12 reaches 600 pages! Eugene Peterson called this book a “theological wrestling with Scripture”– you’ve got to admit that sounds intriguing. The set was updated in 2004 which makes it fairly recent. The designation that I had heard of it being mildly critical and theologically powerful is justified. I had also been told that many question its exegetical conclusions, but you will appreciate it for its theological insights. The Book of Matthew is blessed with other commentaries that might be your exegetical first choice.

Whatever Bruner has to say on introductory matters for Matthew is given in the preface. I take it that the introduction is not the contribution to studies of Matthew that he intends to make. The commentary itself is thorough, thought-provoking, wide-ranging, and theologically astute. I see this commentary as a noble second. After you have a good start on the Book of Matthew, then pick this volume up to see things that you have missed. When I peruse this volume, I don’t see any regurgitation of some other book. Bruner delivers an original production. I love the second viewpoint; don’t you?

This one is worth looking up!

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.

book matt 2

Volume 2 of Frederick Dale Brunner’s highly-respected commentary on the Book of Matthew is even more massive than the first volume. It checks in at over 800 pages. As was the case with the first volume, whatever introductory discussion he wants to have is found in the preface. Page 1 picks up with Matthew 13 and the commentary carries on through the end of the book. All the superlatives of volume 1 are repeated in this volume. Theology is its greatest contribution. Though it must’ve taken Bruner years to write this large-scale work, there’s no tapering off toward the end. The last chapter of Matthew is given the same quality work as the first. I’m glad to have this volume for the type of extra insights it delivers.

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 (NTL) by Fowl

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Stephen Fowl has delivered this volume on Ephesians in the New Testament Library (NTL) series. Mr. Fowl would rate as one of the more conservative writers in this critical series. If you are familiar with this series it’s safe to say that the author delivers what you’ve come to expect. There’s the same theological insight with even a higher level of exegesis as compared to other volumes in the series.

The introduction that follows a lengthy bibliography is rather short. Some typical introductory issues aren’t even touched upon. He does explain his view of the argument of Ephesians. He gives a fairly detailed outline of the book. He covers historical background in a section on Ephesus and Paul in Acts. When he discusses authorship, he doesn’t completely dismiss the possibility that Paul wrote the letter as we might have expected in this series. In any event, he doesn’t feel that authorship has all that much bearing on the interpretation of the book. He discusses briefly its relation to the book of Colossians, and he overviews vocabulary, style, themes, eschatology, and its use of the Old Testament. He ends the introduction with a look at the recipients and occasion of the book.

Even the commentary section is shorter than I anticipated. Still, the size is somewhat mitigated by a succinct style that is thorough enough to get to the heart of the matter in most passages. Again, the theological help makes this commentary worth consulting. Here’s a good look at Ephesians from a moderately critical perspective that is better than many in that same 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.

Ephesians (EEC) by Baugh

book eec eph

Here’s another fine, helpful, conservative volume in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series published by Lexham Press, this time on Ephesians by S. M. Baugh. It dives deep into the scholarly issues while retaining readability. Along with the other volumes released so far in this series, this book encourages you to believe that this series when complete will be a major asset and will live up to both the “evangelical” and “exegetical” labels.

Mr. Baugh begins the Introduction by discussing the authorship of Ephesians. He explains that no one doubted Paul as the author until the mid-19th century. He provides a listing of the five main issues that critical scholars use to attack the authorship of Paul. The fifth issue (“the Greek style of Ephesians versus the other Pauline Epistles”) is one where he will make an in-depth, scholarly contribution to the discussion. His explanation of the Greek style in Ephesians might be more than some pastors will care to get into but they must appreciate its erudition that will be hard for critical scholars to dodge. That discussion makes up the bulk of the Introduction.

He also discusses the date and place of writing, the occasion of the letter, and recipients. His section on theological emphases is surprisingly short, and he also gives a thorough explanation of how he will explain Greek verbs and syntax in the commentary. His outline is followed by a select bibliography.

In the commentary proper, every passage is given an introduction, an outline, a rendering of the original text in Greek, textual notes, translation, detailed commentary, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography for the passage.

When I checked out some of the more controversial passages of Ephesians, such as the household code, I found him to be very cautious on his way to reaching conservative conclusions. His commentary work was still thoughtful, and I often caught myself saying “I hadn’t thought of that before”.

We have several outstanding commentaries on the Book of Ephesians available today – add this one to that category. As one of the most important New Testament letters, you will want at least a few of the great ones. I suggest you make this volume one 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.

I Corinthians (ZECNT) by Gardner

book cor zec

This latest release in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (ZECNT) series on I Corinthians by Paul Gardner grows my appreciation for this series. It is at once warm and pastoral as well as showing excellent scholarship. This volume is a candidate for the first choice among pastors!

The Introduction is briefer than many I’ve seen in this series. What we have is well done, but it lacks a section on, for example, structure. Every passage in the commentary proper addresses structure, but there’s not an overview of it like has been an emphasis in others of this series. His conclusions are conservative: he sees Paul as the author without reservation, he follows the traditional outlook of Paul’s ministry and dates the letter at AD 54. He digs into the church divisions present in the epistle since that has been widely debated in scholarly circles. He dismantles some of the attacks on the integrity of the letter because so many of the theories floated are hopelessly subjective. He presents a balanced take on the city of Corinth and explains the social and religious context. After discussing the rhetorical and literary context, which he probably sees as covering structure, he returns to defining the divisions mentioned in the letter as the key to its interpretation.

His commentary is where my appreciation blossomed for this commentary. He used the typical format of this series and in my opinion excelled in the “explanation of the text” section. That’s probably the section most used by commentary uses too!  As you know, there are several highly-debated passages in this epistle and he was at his best in each of them. Not only did I often agree with what he said, but also did I find his thoroughness, logic, and argumentation done with more care than many others. In fact, I reviewed another good, conservative, major commentary on this letter recently, and was surprised to see how completely Mr. Gardner surpassed that work.

In many places, he added special “in-depth” sections in shaded boxes that were superb. He wasn’t afraid to take some conservative viewpoints that are less in vogue these days. I loved it!

I Corinthians is blessed to have several excellent commentaries on its contents. This one is as good or better than any of them: I give it the highest 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.

A Great Commentary Series For S.S. Teachers and Bible Students!

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Have you heard that Moody Publishers is in the process of re-releasing their much-beloved Everyman’s Bible Commentary series? I’m a pastor who has a warm spot in my heart for this series. As a younger Christian, and in my earlier days of teaching a Sunday school class, I built my collection of the entire set. They were a real help to me. Every volume in the set is clear, concise, yet really gets at the heart of what the passage is talking about. Further, every volume is conservative, free of scholarly jargon, and glowing with warmth.

It’s my understanding that this re-release of the series will include both paperbacks with redesigned, attractive covers and Kindle editions. The first wave of these new additions will include Daniel by John Whitcomb, Acts by Charles C. Ryrie, Romans by Alan Johnson, and Revelation by Charles C. Ryrie. All these titles are winners by the way!

Either Sunday school teachers or those attempting serious Bible study on their own will find these volumes a treasure trove. If you are in either of those categories, this pastor recommends that you don’t hesitate to secure your copies of these fine books that will greatly aid your study of God’s Word! You won’t regret it!

Colossians (NICNT) by McKnight

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Scot McKnight produced this fine new commentary on Colossians in the well-respected New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) series. This volume replaces the work of F. F. Bruce and complements McKnight’s recently released volume on Philemon in the same series. Additionally, I find this commentary superior to the author’s commentary on James in the NICNT. Experience must help when it comes to commentary writing.

After a substantial bibliography, McKnight gives us an Introduction with vigor and punch. His writing style captivates even in those places that many commentaries slow down to a crawl. Some commentaries, too, bog down in scholarly interaction. He was unusually successful in weaving in other scholar’s opinions while formulating his own. I did not agree with every conclusion he made but found it easy to follow his arguments. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I want from a commentary.

He begins the Introduction with a broad-ranging discussion of the apostle Paul and the situation of the Colossians. He concludes that Paul communicates “as an apostle and missionary and pastor, hence, as a missional, pastoral theologian”. His discussion of authorship interacted with the New Perspective on Paul and provided some great independent thinking. I don’t agree with his final conclusion but found the whole discussion enlightening. He also discusses the authority of Paul, Christology, ecclesiology, eschatology, themes absent in Colossians, and relationships with Ephesians and Philemon. He re-creates the opponents and setting of Colossae with clarity. He arrives at a date for Colossians by pinpointing the imprisonment of Paul and thoroughly discusses all the possible options. He has a large section on Paul’s theology of Colossians with scholarly awareness for our benefit. The final section is on the structure of the book and recapitulates several famous scholars before he provides his own outline of the letter.

The commentary itself is excellent it’s everything you’ve come to expect in this series and manages to give help both to scholars and pastors. This commentary takes its worthy place in this long-standing series and 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.