Daniel (TOTC) by Paul House

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The Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (TOTC) series scores again. This latest title is at least the tenth release in this current revision of the venerable series (current writers used earlier editions as young Christians in many cases!) and they are all a success—keeping the winning format and scope with more up-to-date scholarship and good writing. Snagging Paul House was a coup for the series too as he has already produced a much-used Old Testament Theology as well as coauthored an Old Testament Survey. To my mind, he worked within the established TOTC format as if it fit him like a glove.

Any commentary on Daniel bears the additional weight of the varying prophetic outlook of the reader. While that’s not an issue in many other books of the Bible, Daniel is second only to Revelation in that dynamic. Many will unfairly rate any commentary on these two books on this issue alone before they read the first paragraph. For the record, the TOTC series has always been amillennial. Though that is not my viewpoint, I’ve always found great insight in these volumes. This volume, too, delivers on many levels in my judgment even though that differentiation of perspective exists.

The Introduction gets to the point as this series demands yet delivers the goods. Some of the more perverse scholarly train wrecks on Daniel that dominate much literature is happily not the focus here. Let’s call it a clear conservative presentation. History is carefully unfolded. Literary, genre, and textual issues are all concisely unpacked. Daniel’s role in the canon is probed before theological themes are presented. Structure gets one paragraph called “Analysis” and a detailed outline.

The commentary itself is well done, again, in the TOTC style. Its best contributions are historical and theological. You will be able to trace easily the flow of the text. A few passages will have the drama of a prophetic outlook that may not match your own, but you will still learn much in the commentary.

I really like this book and am happy to have it at hand for future studies. Highly 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.

 

Reformation Commentary on Scripture (OT VIII) on Psalms 72-150

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It’s great to see this work on Psalms completed with the release of this second volume covering Psalms 73-150 in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series. Editor Herman J. Selderhuis, a church history expert, had already delivered the winning earlier volume on Psalms 1-72. I don’t see how anyone would stop short of getting them together. They are both well-crafted, lovely on the shelf, and effective on the desk.

The only odd feature of this volume is the replication of a guide to the commentary (that’s in every volume in the series), a general introduction, an introduction to the Psalms, a map of Europe in Reformation times, a timeline, and a lengthy section of biological sketches. They are all without alteration in the earlier volume. Perhaps they wanted to ensure the reader’s ability to use as a stand-alone book. In any event, you will want this title for the commentary on Psalms 73-150 covering pages 1-399.

The same painstaking work found in the earlier volume continues to the end of the Psalter. Unlike some commentaries that peter out before the end of a longer biblical book, this one reads like a labor of love. I’m impressed by the amount of research required to distill for us the best the Reformers had. I also appreciate the scope of comment. You might be able to figure out the editor’s favorite Reformers, but you will get much coverage beyond them too. To my mind, the Reformers were at their best in the Psalms.

Look here for treasure that the exegetical commentaries won’t have. They weren’t afraid of practical Christianity and it shows. I highly 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.

Ecclesiastes (Interpretation) by William Brown

 

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William P. Brown, a prolific writer on Wisdom literature, contributes this commentary on Ecclesiastes in the Interpretation Bible Commentary series. I’ve had the privilege of reviewing the better titles in this series, and for its theological offerings, this title is certainly in that category. In fact, it gets its higher ranking for that theology far more than for its academic weight. That’s not to say that he fails to address scholarly issues, just that its theology is its best feature. As expected for this series, the conclusions come from a fairly critical perspective.

In my mind, the Introduction was not the success that the commentary was. His bizarre comparison to the epic of Gilgamesh sent much of the Introduction awry. Why not use Solomon, or at least the Bible, instead of something with such a dubious connection! Brown does seem at least to love Ecclesiastes even if he finds it the strangest book in the canon.

The commentary digs out much theology and well describes “vanity”. If you like to check out either the critical perspective or some theology that’s a little different than what you find other places, then you will want to check out 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.

Lamentations (Interpretation) by Dobbs-Allsopp

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This volume on Lamentations by F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp in the Interpretation Bible Commentary series is likely the most referenced volume in the whole series. I’ve seen it mentioned in many places including the most respected listings of valuable commentaries. Its success is partially rooted in its thoroughness compared to others in the series. Here you have 159 pages on the 5 chapters of Lamentations. For comparison, the companion commentary in the series on Jeremiah’s 52 chapters rounds out at 275 pages. You can make some prediction on that coverage alone. Beyond the depth of coverage is the quality of theological reflection itself. There are places the discussion goes off the rails with its critical outlook and troubling conclusions about God to be sure, but Dobbs-Allsopp turns the theological spade to the same profit as the better volumes in this series.

The Introduction is much more thorough than many I’ve read in the series too. There is a broad sweep of several introductory issues including date and authorship with typical critical conclusions before the author slows down for one of his favorite topics: literary features. He defines the genre as “city-lament” and says it’s written in lyric poetry. He carefully weaves through metaphor, diction, wordplay, pun, euphony, alphabetic acrostic, and enjambment. The balance of the Introduction is on theology. I found more value here.

The commentary itself upholds the standards established in the Introduction. As is true of some of the better titles in this series, it competes for the title of the best commentary from the critical perspective. Adele Berlin is its main rival, but the intentions of the two are different. Berlin aims at the scholar while this volume pitches itself to teachers and preachers. Pick according to your need, but this is a successful choice to grasp the critical approach and glean its theological contributions.

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. 

Numbers (Interpretation) by Olson

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This volume on Numbers in the Interpretation Bible Commentary series by Dennis Olson is one of the more favorably reviewed in the whole series. When I saw that it was judged as more academically astute than its companion volumes, I was intrigued to check it out. Its marks for theology rank highly as well. Without doubt, its conclusions spring from a critical perspective just as you will find to be true across the series. To my mind, these reviews are accurate.

The Introduction is quite brief but introduces us to Olson’s highly-regarded ideas about the structure of the Book of Numbers. That provocative view of structure divides Numbers into two parts: Numbers 1-25 and 26-36. It sees the first part as the old generation of rebellion and the other as the new generation of hope. The design within each half is also presented as cohesive. This review of structure is followed by some theological discussion. Everything else is pushed to the commentary section.

The structure Olson loves to highlight becomes a guide in the commentary itself. Besides a few places of too much brevity, the commentary is well done. If you understand the perspective this book brings, you will know what you can find versus what simply must be sought somewhere else.

There are about 5 or 6 volumes that have separated themselves from the others in this series. Mark this book down as 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.

Spiritual Gifts by Thomas Schreiner

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This book is different than other Thomas Schreiner books I’ve used. That’s not to say it isn’t good, just that it’s different. He’s turned out some impressive exegetical volumes over the years, and though this volume has a scholarly awareness, it can profit any Christian. In my view, it’s pitched at the right level to be a blessing to lots of people. You can tell he’s writing past those obsessed debaters who battle these issues for kicks so he can reach Christians with honest questions on a confusing subject. His tone is more of discussion and gentle persuasion with a keen respect of the reader who might at the end of the day conclude differently than him.

After an introduction, he gives a balanced, gracious critique of the strengths and weaknesses of the Charismatic Movement. The next three chapters dissect the various lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament. He gives two chapters to reason out what the New Testament really means by “prophecy”. There are two chapters on the explosive issue of tongues. The final two chapters look at arguments pro and con on the cessation of gifts.

His arguments are judicious and have the ring of truth. I found myself nodding “yes” on many pages. I’d call this book a perfect volume to use to make sense of spiritual gifts. You will want to check it out.

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. 

Leviticus (Interpretation) by Balentine

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From what I can see, this book is one of the more decorated in the Interpretation Bible Commentary series. Samuel Balentine is held up as an expert on Leviticus. To be clear, it comes clearly from a critical perspective. As is true with some of the better volumes of the series, it excels in theology even if you don’t agree with its critical outlook. There’s no way I could agree with its overemphasis on ritual, but I can appreciate his desire to see Leviticus as something that a listing of weird, arbitrary laws.

The Introduction begins with discussing the unique design of Leviticus before making his case as its being ritual texts. There are helpful discussions on structure and theme. Too much of sources are found, but that is not the emphasis. Further, he traces the worship value of the book and draws out helpful theology. Check out the chart on page 17 too.

The commentary proper has the best of critical commentary with theological perception. It will vie for the best of critical commentaries on Leviticus without a doubt.

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 Gracious and Compassionate God (NSBT) by Timmer

 

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The New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) tackles the beloved Book of Jonah in this entry by Daniel Timmer. There’s really not a dud that I’ve seen in this series. Many attribute this consistent quality to the editorship of revered scholar D. A. Carson. I suspect that along with careful selection of contributors is responsible for the prestige of the series. If you value D. A. Carson as many do, you should know that he calls this volume by Timmer “a book to cherish”.

The subtitle accurately outlines what you will find between these covers: “mission, salvation, and spirituality in the book of Jonah”. In fact, chapters one and two take mission and conversion/spirituality in Jonah and relates it to the entire biblical corpus.

Chapters 3-6 take Jonah chapter by chapter drawing out its theology and again tracing the themes mentioned earlier. At times, the author is quite strict about the theology that can legitimately be mined here, perhaps overly so. Still, there are loads of great theological introspection for this familiar story. The concluding chapter effectively ties it all together.

Mark this down as another entry in this winning 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.

Finding Favour in the Sight of God (NSBT) by Belcher

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This latest entry in the New Studies In Biblical Theology (NSBT) by Richard Belcher and edited by D. A. Carson presents a theology of wisdom literature. Since this series has already provided Hear My Son by Daniel Estes and Five Festal Garments by Barry Webb, I opened this volume with something of a here-we-go-again attitude. I was in that fog for a few pages before I realized that this book was a really good one. Think of a field laden with nuggets. Often, I would catch myself saying, yes, that is what that wisdom book is about!

Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes make up the bulk of this volume. Since they each provide their own difficulties, help is appreciated. Theology and structural concerns shine throughout this volume.

The opening chapter explains why wisdom literature is such a challenge in the formulation of Old Testament theology. Making Creation its foundation was a reasonable hermeneutic. Chapter 2 discusses the theology of Proverbs 1-9. The structure outlined made sense to me. That’s followed by a brief chapter on the hermeneutics of Proverbs. Chapter 4 rounds out the study of Proverbs by concluding its main theological themes.

The next three chapters look at Job. For my money, this section is the richest in the book. In these chapters, I was amazed at how much he could impart to us. The chapters divide the Book of Job into three parts, but it’s so much more than that! The speeches, the structure, the theology–all so perceptive!

Ecclesiastes gets three chapters as well. If they aren’t quite as good as the ones on Job, they still are fine specimens of drawing theology out of a wisdom book. The final chapter on Jesus and wisdom makes the perfect conclusion to this book.

This book provides perfectly what you would want in this type of volume. Let’s rate it highly 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.

The Revelation to John by Stephen Smalley

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Somehow, I missed this large work on Revelation. Stephen Smalley was familiar to me particularly in his WBC commentary on the Epistles of John. As the subtitle suggests, this commentary is aimed at the Greek text. Revelation has been the subject of such approaches more so than some books of the Bible. There were Charles and Swete of another generation as well as Beale and Aune of recent times. Smalley is up to the task of being mentioned in their rank. Still, English readers can work around the Greek and follow the flow of the argument. In most cases, the English and Greek are side by side.

The Introduction begins by examining the text. He explains his approach as “literary and theological, rather than simply critical and historical. Though critical to some degree, he sees a “basic unity” in the book and accepts the authorship of John. He traces what he sees as the situation behind the book. As many scholars love to do, he takes a stab at constructing the “Johannine Community”. Genre is probed as well. He surveys John’s use of the OT before slowing down for theology. He rightfully sees the role of Christology in the book. When he turns to symbolism and interpretation, we learn his view is that of a “modified idealist”. His section on structure needs expansion.

There are almost 600 pages loaded with exegesis. If you lay aside your prophetic outlook and come here just for exegesis, you won’t be disappointed. I get more from the trees than the forest with this one. Not being part of a series may cause this one to be overlooked, but it stands in the major exegetical 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.