Mark: Through Old Testament Eyes by Andrew T. Le Peau

book mark ot

This book is the inaugural volume in the Through Old Testament Eyes commentary series. Series editor Andrew T. Le Peau contributes this volume on the Gospel of Mark. As we are starting to see such a proliferation of commentary series these days that the market is almost glutted, so a new series especially needs a unique contribution to not get lost in the multifarious market. If this first volume is any indication, I think this series is going to have something to say that’s not found in others. The Old Testament angle is only part of its success.

Be sure to read the Series Preface to see how it’s set up. In the Introduction to Mark’s Gospel, you immediately see that this series is aimed at pastors and Bible students, not academic types. He gives a long movie analogy of movies borrowing from older movies to describe Mark’s borrowing from the Old Testament. It’s in this Introduction that you find one of the highlights that will be carried through the whole commentary. Scholars often make a discussion of structure a quite nebulous exercise, but he takes it and in a few paragraphs turns it into something truly helpful. Compared to others, the Introduction is short, but I think it succeeds for what this series intends to be.

Every passage has commentary with an emphasis on its relation to the Old Testament. That does help where other commentaries sometimes lack. It’s those sections in the dark shading that I love the most. They contain all kinds of helpful information. It often involves explaining structure. Many times there’s a helpful chart that aids understanding even more.

I see this commentary as the perfect secondary commentary. It holds up well with the other serious paperback commentaries on the market. If this series can sustain what we have here, it will likely be quite successful. In any event, this first work on Mark is 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.

Reformation Commentary on Scripture (NT XIII) on Hebrews and James

book ref heb jam

Though several titles have been released in this Reformation Commentary on Scripture series, this is my first opportunity to review or use one of its volumes. Immediately I’m impressed by the hardback volume and its attractive dust jacket. Since this series is different than most that I use, I really appreciated the guide to using the commentary that was provided at the beginning of the volume. That is followed by a general introduction to the whole series that explains what its producers are hoping to accomplish. The editors are seeking to help modern interpreters and preachers, as well as furthering historical understanding and Christian scholarship. There’s a great deal of helpful information on that history and how exegesis fared in Reformation times. It was thrilling to see a sympathetic view of Anabaptists from that time as well.

Next, we have an introduction to Hebrew and James that reviews things as they stood in the Reformation period. The commentary itself is easy to follow. The person quoted is always listed at the beginning with a more detailed bibliographic entry at the end of the periscope. Hebrews and James are tricky for totally different reasons, and that makes this step back to Reformation times even more interesting. There were some authors quoted that I’ve read Spurgeon loved that I’ve not seen anywhere else that was icing on the cake for me too.

It’s all really fascinating. It’s a terrible mistake to assume that only our generation has anything to say. Though the years aren’t equal, the Reformation seems like the midway point between New Testament times and today in my view. It’s great to see what was believed at that time. Plus, you must respect the men who returned to the Bible at such cost in their generation. What they have to say is at least worth listening to.

I think I’ll be checking out other titles in this fine series. IVP is to be commended for providing us today with such a valuable asset.

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.

Zondervan Handbook to the Bible

book zon han

This handbook that is the favorite of many has garnered a fifth addition. I’m told that there are over 3 million copies in print in many languages for the first four editions. Even the earliest editions, edited by David and Pat Alexander, were colorful and more eye appealing than most on the market. That tradition is extended in this latest edition. It’s beautiful, colorful, full of helpful articles, and contains wonderful maps, charts, diagrams, and photographs.

Section 1 introduces the Bible with broad discussion, helps put the Bible in its proper setting, explains keys to understanding, looks at the unity of the Bible, and surveys the challenges of reading the Bible today. The next section covers the Old Testament, breaking it down by looking at the four genres found there. Each book of the Bible is given an overview and a synopsis of its contents. There’s many articles of special features found in the book as well as lavish illustrations. The New Testament is approached in the same helpful way.

You will enjoy the final section too that they call the “rapid factfinder”. I describe it as a brief Bible dictionary as well as a reference on where to find further discussion in the book itself.

The book is beautiful and well done. The paperback cover is sturdier than most and actually works well in this case. Many of the contributors are well-known scholars. I imagine any Bible student would crave this book. It’s 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.

Second Corinthians (NIGTC) by Harris

book nigtc 2 cor

This volume by Murray Harris is one of the most respected in the well-known New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series. Its success arises from its masterful exegesis, its scholarly clarity, and its warmth. Along the way, you will have one of the most conservative entries in the series as well. Having already written a helpful commentary II Corinthians in the EBC series aimed at pastors, Harris flexed his scholarly muscles in producing this meticulous, yet clear technical commentary.

Harris provides a massive bibliography running 100 pages. He begins the Introduction by digging into the literary issues of II Corinthians. I appreciated that on page 1 he wasted no time in saying, “one of the areas in which there is consensus among NT scholars is that Paul was the author of 2 Corinthians….” Quickly he segues into where the strongest debate concerning this book always happens – how it fits with I Corinthians. He explains what he calls “the severe letter”. He works through all the main possibilities before he begins defending the integrity of II Corinthians. There’s debate also about some of the passages and if they possibly come from a different hand than Paul. Again, these passages are covered from every possible angle and he is quite open to conservative solutions.

He also tackles the occasion, purpose, and outcome of the book. From there, he comes back at the book with a view to explain historical issues. In doing so he will review the date, Paul’s opponents, and the collection for Jerusalem. He works with care in producing a chronology before he dives into discussions about structure. There’s also some good discussion of theology in the book, which you will also find in the commentary itself.

The commentary proper is over 800 pages on the text. It is in perusing these pages that you will see that Harris lives up to the reputation that has attached to this book. As with most volumes in this series, the English translation of the Greek presented is nearby and fairly easy to follow even for non-Greek readers.

This volume is easily the best we have on the more technical side for II Corinthians today. Don’t miss 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.

Haggai and Malachi (NICOT) by Jacobs

book hag mal

This latest entry in the highly- regarded New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) by Mignon Jacobs covers Haggai and Malachi. It replaces the serviceable volume by Pieter Verhoef that’s been much used for 30 years. In the last few decades this series has transitioned to academic issues from its earlier emphasis of assisting pastors, though scholarly pastors will still love it. If you appreciate the last few entries in this series, you will find this new title in that same vein and fully of their caliber.

After a substantial bibliography, the Introduction of Haggai begins with the historical background. We learn of the times of the prophet, his identity, and the date of his activity in the book. The next section tackles historical context by explaining what the author calls “chronological indicators” followed by the sociopolitical context and the conceptual framework. Next, there’s a brief discussion of the text followed by a section on inter-textual indicators. That revolves around Haggai’s comparison with Ezra, Chronicles, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Leviticus. There’s also a short section on structure (It could have been longer). The Introduction ends with a brief overview of the message that includes a few theological values.

The book of Malachi has an Introduction with the same design as that used by Haggai and explained above. There’s a few more charts and tables in this one to help the reader. The outline provided in the section on structure was also much more detailed than that of Haggai. I thought the theological discussion of the ideal versus the real was illuminating.

The verse by verse commentary of both sections is helpful. Scholarly issues are well defined and inter-textual discussions are well done. I’m glad to have this book on my shelves. It’s a real asset!

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 New Testament in Antiquity by Burge, Cohick, and Green

book nt antiq

This book is a fine new entry on the market for New Testament introduction. This attractive, well-illustrated volume by Gary M. Burge, Lynn H. Cohick, and Gene L. Green is an up-to-date survey of the New Testament. Its special emphasis is to provide that introduction within the cultural contexts, whether Jewish, Hellenistic, or Roman cultures. That viewpoint helps bring the New Testament to life. The book is designed as a textbook, and the publisher provides both instructor and student resources for it, but any Bible student could learn much from it.

Chapter 1 begins with a broad look at the issues involved in studying the New Testament. The reader is reminded of the importance of context, geography, history, and as said before, culture. Chapter 2 discusses the historical setting of the New Testament. It begins by explaining the post-exilic times, continues through the Hellenistic period, and ends by explaining the Roman era. (Notice the chart on page 38, which is one of the most creative I’ve ever seen explaining the family of Herod). Chapter 3 narrows its focus to Israel and the time of Jesus. Chapter 4 expands the discussion to the Mediterranean world of the Apostle Paul. Chapter 5 discusses sources for the Gospels – I find that chapter off target, but it’s exactly what you’ll find in most modern New Testament introductions.

Chapters 6 – 11 cover the life of Christ and the four Gospels. It’s helpful to view the Gospels collectively as a life of Jesus and then examine the uniqueness of each gospel. Chapter 12 overviews the book of Acts while chapter 13 gives an overview of the Apostle Paul. Chapters 14 through 26 survey the rest of the books of the New Testament. A concluding chapter discusses the preservation and communication of the New Testament.

The maps and pictures are well chosen, beautiful, and quite enlightening. Some of the illustrations and reconstructions were especially eye-catching. The design of this survey is ideal. It is at once to the point and of sufficient depth to be a real asset to readers. I imagine this book will be the text of choice for New Testament survey classes for the next several years. Pastors and Bible students will find it worthwhile to check out as well. 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.

A History of Israel (Revised Edition) by Kaiser and Wegner

book hist israel

We have here a massive revision of a much-beloved history of Israel textbook. Don’t allow the word “textbook” to cause you to think this book is only designed for college students. It’s an extraordinary resource for any Bible student or pastor. The amount of information is incredible. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. is known for his helpful conservative scholarship and has been a trusted name for many for years. You might say this volume has been made fresh with the addition of Paul Wegner as a co-author.  The addition of many color pictures and maps from the B&H Publishing collection helps immensely as well. It’s large 7” X 10” size allows the font and picture/map dimensions to add to its enjoyment. The only downside is the fact that it’s in paperback and that its type of printing removes some of the sharpness of the illustrations. My hope is that this volume will meet with such success that the publisher might consider an attractive hardback with slick pages. That is, though, the only shortcoming of this book that I found.

As much as I enjoyed the bells and whistles of this volume, it’s the well written conservative viewpoint that makes it stand out. I’ve seen most of the other histories of Israel in print by academic publishers today, and this volume far exceeds them all. The others may have some commendable features but always come with a pile of caveats because of their consistently twisted chronology and skeptical nature. This volume contains all the academic and biblical information on the history of Israel that a sincere Bible believer could desire.

After three introductory chapters that describe the scholarly mess that academia has made of the history of Israel, the book has nine major parts with 30 more chapters that take us from Israel’s beginning to the Intertestamental period. You might quibble over some date or conclusion, but you will greatly appreciate the bedrock assumption behind every conclusion drawn from the evidence found that the Old Testament is a trustworthy source and the basis of our study. I especially appreciated the archaeological proof of Israel and the Old Testament, which is substantial, that is presented in this volume.

Without a doubt, this volume will take pride of place in my library on the subject of the history of Israel. 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.

Philippians (EEC) by Keown–2 In-depth volumes on Philippians

 

book phil eec

In this latest release in hardback of the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series, Mark Keown hits a home run. As one who owns all the modern, major exegetical commentaries on Philippians, I can say unequivocally that these two volumes on Philippians are the most thorough we have today. As a bonus, its stance is warmly conservative. As I understand it, as is the case with all volumes in the series, this two-volume set was first released as one volume in digital form. Readers like me who will defiantly only use a book that can be held in our hands must be grateful to Lexham Press for providing these two attractive volumes for us.

Volume 1 covers Philippians 1:1-2:18 and with indices runs over 550 pages. See what I mean about thorough! This volume contains the Introduction to the Book of Philippians and runs to 92 pages alone. I appreciate that the author’s love of Philippians becomes apparent on page 1. To me, that’s essential to a good commentary. Keown quickly establishes his acceptance of Paul as the author. After discussing the role of Timothy in this letter, he dives into Paul in Rome and thoroughly describes the scene there. Next, he explains the integrity of Philippians. He picks apart the multiple–letter hypothesis and sees Philippians as a unified whole. After carefully examining the evidence, he’s comfortable with a conservative dating.

After he works his way through the data in Philippians, he reviews the recipients of the letter and gives us background on the town of Philippi itself. From there, he delves into the Philippian church and draws a careful picture of its makeup. That church’s need transitions him into some of the themes that we find in Philippians. He concludes that section with finding the “cruciform” life in the letter. The next section tackles the genre of Philippians. He finds it hard to fit in the straitjacket of one narrow description. After describing the use of the Old Testament in Philippians, he explains thematic and structural analysis of the book. Though brief, it is very good and clear. After an outline, he provides a lengthy bibliography.

In every passage he gives an introduction for the passage itself, followed by the portion of outline in play, translation, textual notes, and all followed by detailed commentary. This is where the commentary is impressive. Though it might be lengthier than many will want for Philippians, there’s no doubt that it addresses every exegetical issue imaginable. In other words, it’s not going to miss something that you think ought to be discussed. What makes it superior to many other major commentaries of great length is that its bulk is not made up of esoteric, somewhat off-topic discussion. No, he gives us mostly exegesis.

I predict that this commentary will prove to be widely used in the years ahead. 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.

Volume 2 covers Philippians 2:19-4:23 in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series, and continues the thoroughness found in the first volume. With indices, it runs to almost 570 pages. Just like the first volume on Philippians, its claim to fame is detailed exegesis. Other major tomes addressing Philippians on the exegetical level often run on side paths that many Bible students think go nowhere. I so appreciate that this volume is always wrestling with the text.

As a case in point, check out the commentary on Philippians 4:13. In six pages of commentary, every word is thoroughly investigated. Options are weighed and conclusions are explained. Hard questions are not dodged either. After all the exegetical work, he explains the major interpretive issues. How wide is the application of this famous verse? He doesn’t just spout off an answer, and though he warns against taking in too wide a direction, he explains why we can take it farther than the narrowest interpretation with good reason. It’s in places like that we discover the commentator’s skill found in this volume.

In every passage he gives an introduction for the passage itself, followed by the portion of outline in play, translation, textual notes, and all followed by detailed commentary. This is where the commentary is impressive. Though it might be lengthier than many will want for Philippians, there’s no doubt that it addresses every exegetical issue imaginable. In other words, it’s not going to miss something that you think ought to be discussed. What makes it superior to many other major commentaries of great length is that its bulk is not made up of esoteric, somewhat off-topic discussion. No, he gives us mostly exegesis.

I predict that this commentary will prove to be widely used in the years ahead. 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.

 

The Epistles to Colossians and to Philemon (NIGNT) by Dunn

This volume in the New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series is by famous scholar James D. G. Dunn. He is, perhaps, most famous for being one of the main proponents of the New Perspective on Paul (NPP). While I do not find that perspective plausible, I do appreciate the clarity with which Mr. Dunn explained his position. As you might imagine, that perspective does sway the commentary on Colossians and Philemon. If you would agree with me that that perspective might be the flaw of this commentary, then the quality of writing found here that is often absent in other such works is its strength. Even if the scholarship is swayed by his perspective, no one can doubt the depths of the scholarship itself.

The style of the commentary matches what I’ve seen in other volumes of this series. Though the commentary on each verse begins with the phrase in Greek, it’s still easy to follow for those who don’t read Greek. I would not avoid this commentary for that reason.

The Introduction to Colossians begins after a lengthy bibliography. He first discusses the significance of the book, followed by the background of Colossae and its Christianity. He admits the lack of archaeological excavation in Colossae imbibes conclusions with uncertainty. I had trouble following him in some of the presuppositions that ultimately lead to his perspective on Paul. I certainly couldn’t agree with his lack of acceptance of the authorship of Paul. After a brief discussion of structure, he jumps into the commentary itself. Though his perspective on Paul is always going to be present, I still found his commentary interesting and the one I would want to consult from that perspective.

The commentary on Philemon is set up in a similar way. The Introduction discusses the author, the recipient, the occasion, and the place of writing. I was amazed that he didn’t allow himself to be submersed into the subject of slavery that consumes most other scholars these days. I appreciated that approach.

Though perhaps not as conservative as some, this is a major commentary that demands to be reckoned with. For that reason, I must recommend 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.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Rev. Ed.)-Volume 10, Luke-Acts

book ebc 10

Volume 10 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC), Revised Edition, covering Luke, John, and Acts, contains some of the most highly rated volumes in the beloved series. Since these commentaries were so successful, the original authors were kept with one additional collaborator on Luke. If you’re familiar with this series, this volume uses the familiar, helpful format found in all the others.

Walter Liefeld was helped by David Pao in updating the commentary on Luke. Though it may not be as lengthy as some, it’s always been well received. The collaborative update only makes it more so. Some parts of the Introduction are not reworked while some other sections were and still others added. There’s still a fine discussion on literary genre, distinctive features, the unity of Luke and Acts, authorship, purpose (a new section explaining elements making up the theme), intended readership, literary characteristics, composition and methods of reading where various types of criticism are discussed, text, history, date, and a lengthy section on themes and theology. This is followed by a bibliography and outline before jumping into the commentary proper.

The commentary is well-written, full of insights, and since it avoids wordiness, it could qualify as an excellent choice for pastors. I’ve always enjoyed using the old edition and I’m glad to see the updating that even increases its value more.

You could always tell that Robert Mounce, who wrote the section on John, aimed at pastors. The Introduction, bibliography and outline make up a mere seven pages. He admits that he doesn’t write for scholars, though there is a scholarly awareness throughout. I imagine some pastors may prefer this style. The commentary is in no way shallow and will provide real help to the pastor or Bible student.

Richard Longenecker, who is a highly respected scholarly writer, updates his well-received work on Acts. Again, the Introduction is not greatly reworked, but is well thought out in this in-depth approach. He covers history of criticism, historical writing and antiquity, kerygma and history in Acts, purposes in writing, sources, narrative, speeches (always an important section in Acts), structure, date, author, and a discussion of the text. This is followed by a bibliography, outline, and map. His conclusions are conservative. The commentary is well done. I’ve used the old edition for several years and am happy to see this update extending the life of this quality work.

This volume covering Luke – Acts is a bargain. It’s one of the best volumes in a set worth having. You would be wise to secure this volume for your library without delay.

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.