Isaiah 1-39 (Interpretation) by Seitz

book Isa 1-19

Christopher Seitz has provided this commentary on Isaiah 1-39 in the Interpretation Bible Commentary (IBC) series. This is one of the few books of the Bible to get two volumes in this series. Isaiah 40-66 has been done by Paul Hanson. Reviews I have seen labeled this work a “conservatively critical commentary”, which seems fair to me.

In the forward to the book, he states that he finds treating the final form of the book of Isaiah as an intelligent approach. That’s not to say, that he doesn’t take critical detours to imagine historical reconstructions and sources. Each time he does that, it seems to me to be the least valuable portions of the book. I find little guidance in such guesses.

In the Introduction, he begins explaining the character and position of the book of Isaiah. He states that he can see why Isaiah has a place of prominence among the prophets. He admits, as well, that “Isaiah’s salvific character” plays a role. In the next section, he tries to explain why it’s a good idea to have a commentary on what he calls “First Isaiah”. As you probably know, critical scholars imagine either two or three Isaiah’s depending on the critic. Next, Mr. Seitz describes the literary structure of Isaiah 1-39. There were some interesting observations in that section. From there, he tackles the historical structure. He breaks down things like the superscription and call of Isaiah, the Syro-Ephraimite coalition, and King Hezekiah and the 701 BC debacle.

In part one, he gives an overview of Isaiah 1-12 in 10 detailed pages. From there he dives into the commentary itself, which includes more interesting tidbits for the reader, though mostly all from a critical viewpoint. In part two, we have an overview of Isaiah 13 – 27 in the same style and again followed by commentary. Part three concludes with an overview of Isaiah 28 – 39 with the corresponding commentary.

If you know what to expect in an IBC volume, you will find this a great one in that style. Most I’ve seen rank it above the other mid-length critical commentaries, and I’m inclined to agree with that as well. This is a respected book in the IBC 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.

2 Peter and Jude (IVPNT) by Harvey and Towner

book ivp pet jude

Robert Harvey and Philip Towner joined forces to contribute this commentary on the similar letters of 2 Peter and Jude in the IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNT) series. Mr. Towner has also written the commentary on the Pastoral Epistles in this series while Mr. Harvey was a pastor of many years. You could tell which one was the pastor and which one was the scholar, though in both cases the pastor was scholarly and the scholar was pastoral. Maybe my bias as a pastor causes me to enjoy Mr. Harvey’s commentary on 2 Peter more, but we can appreciate Mr. Towner stepping in after the untimely death of Mr. Harvey.

Mr. Harvey begins his Introduction to 2 Peter by jumping into the background of the book, including authorship. I appreciate that he has no trouble believing Peter wrote this work, and even to trace Peter’s marveling at being forgiven throughout the letter. He dispenses with some of the stranger features of genre study, and moves on into the style and vocabulary of Peter. He gives further discussion of topics in 2 Peter, canonicity, date (A.D. 65 to 68), and origin and destination. In discussing Peter’s purpose, he talks about strengthening the brothers and seeing God’s actions in our lives. Next, he tackles the historical background of Peter’s world before he concludes and gives an outline of the book. The commentary was thoughtful, helpful, and seemed to find the heart of every passage.

Mr. Towner begins his Introduction to Jude by explaining the book’s neglect today. He explains the historical background of Jude’s time before he discusses questions of authorship and date. He seems at least open that Jude could have been the writer, yet is uncertain about the date. Next, he discusses the theological character of this book. In it he sees a redemptive story and a Trinitarian outlook. He sees Jude’s technique as working through apocalyptic too. Further, he discusses eschatology, the church, and faith as seen in the Book of Jude. As is common in most commentaries on Jude, when he gets into the literary character of Jude he talks about Jude’s use of Midrash and the similarities with 2 Peter. He closes by explaining the opponents that Jude faces in the writing and some thoughts on our reading Jude today. As we said before, the commentary itself has more of a scholarly feel.

This commentary is a fine, economical choice if you are entering into a study of these two books that receive less attention than most. You will find good help here.

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.

Exodus (EEC) by Eugene Carpenter–Two Great Volumes

book exodus eec

Volume 1

Volume 1 in Eugene Carpenter’s two-volume set on Exodus in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series covers Exodus 1 – 18. I heard discussion as far back as 2003 of a coming, major commentary on Exodus by Mr. Carpenter as one to be highly anticipated. As it turns out, and as the acknowledgment explained, Mr. Carpenter completed the work just days before his accidental death in 2012. It is a blessing that the work was finished before his death.

Since the EEC began as a digital commentary series, it’s exciting to see these two volumes available as a hardback for a wider audience. I imagine this commentary will continue to raise the reputation of this budding commentary series.

Mr. Carpenter begins the Introduction with a discussion of textual issues. He concludes that the text is well preserved. He further explains the significance of the title as well as the canonicity of Exodus, which has not been majorly challenged. When he discusses authorship, he concludes: “Moses was most likely the focal inspired author-editor and originator of the Pentateuch and thus of Exodus, with the gifted Joshua and possibly Eleazer serving as important early inspired editors or contributors.” While my beliefs would be even more conservative than that, it’s clear he’s more conservative than most of the major Old Testament commentaries on Exodus we have today. He’s a little more nebulous on date and gives too much credence to some of the critical theories out there. Still, I was pleased when he discussed the history of the book that he said, “the events in Exodus are real history; it is accurate history as intended by the author”.

Next, he goes into the theological elements of the book. In that section, he discusses the God who speaks and acts, the people of God, and Exodus: a lasting paradigm. After a brief discussion of structure, he gives a detailed outline and a select bibliography.

The commentary section is very full. For each passage he gives an introduction, a translation, textual notes, and very detailed commentary verse by verse, all followed by biblical theology, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography for the passage itself.

This commentary by Eugene Carpenter is clearly a top-three commentary for what we have available today. I imagine it will be used for many years to come and I highly recommend.

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

The second volume by Eugene Carpenter in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series covers Exodus 19 through 40. The commentary maintains the high standards set in volume 1. Without a doubt, this is a major exegetical commentary on Exodus. Mr. Carpenter has clearly done a great deal of work that he shares here.

The Introduction that Mr. Carpenter writes for Exodus is in volume 1. This volume picks up at 19:1 with the same type of commentary we saw in the earlier volume. He has an introduction for each passage, followed by a translation, verse by verse commentary, biblical theology comments, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography for that passage.

The work is deep, full, and yet accessible. He succeeds on the exegetical and the theological level. He interacts with some scholarly opinions that I find little value in, but he does provide much that is of great help.

This volume covers the 10 Commandments as well as the ceremonial laws in the later chapters of Exodus. Scholars will find a treasure trove of footnotes for further study.

This work is well done and it is well worth adding to your library. 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.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Rev. Ed.)-Volume 7: Jeremiah-Ezekiel

book ebc 7

Volume 7 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC), Revised Edition, covers from Jeremiah through Ezekiel, and is another successful updating in the beloved series. This volume contains two brand-new authors with new works and one revision by an author from the original series. It uses the helpful format found in the other volumes of the series.

The Book of Jeremiah is tackled by Michael Brown, replacing the respected Charles Feinberg. He begins the Introduction by describing the world of Jeremiah’s day. Next, he describes the uniqueness of the book of Jeremiah, both in its length and in its contrast between despair and hope. He describes how he comments on the final, canonical form rather than drowning in the nebulous world of sources. After that, he discusses date and authorship, stylistic differences, and his own opinions about editorial activity and sources. I found that to be of little value. When he gets back to historical background he is much more effective. The discussion of background is followed by one of literary style where he discusses issues of structure. He ends with a section on texts and versions, followed by a bibliography and outline. The commentary itself follows the normal style of overview, translation, commentary, and notes. He gives solid exegetical help with commentary of sufficient length for the aims of this series.

Lamentations is done by Paul Farris, Jr., replacing H. L. Ellison. I’ve seen some good press on this commentary, and it appears to be well earned. He begins the Outline discussing title, authorship, date, and historical setting. From there he gets into literary setting where he describes the alphabetic acrostic poetry, the voice, the dirge meter, and city laments in the Ancient Near East. After a brief section on liturgy, he has one on theology. Even including the bibliography and outline this is rather brief. The commentary itself follows the same style mentioned above, but is very detailed and helpful.

The work on Ezekiel has been updated by Ralph Alexander. The Introduction has not been majorly updated, but has a much better appearance. It still covers background, unity and authorship, date, place of origin and destination, occasion and purpose, literary form and structure, and theological values. Some reviewers downgrade Mr. Alexander’s commentary merely because he has a pre-millennial viewpoint. Don’t listen to them. This is a commentary of value.

This is another fine volume that bolsters the status of the EBC, revised edition, and 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.

Christian Origins in Ephesus & Asia Minor by Fairchild

book ephesus

This is the book that I will be taking with me if I am ever privileged to tour Turkey and all the Bible sites there involving Paul or the Seven Churches of the Revelation. Since I have done some solo touring in Israel, I know what I’m looking for in a book that I would want to carry with me every day of the trip, and this is that kind of book. This second edition is an attractive hardback that would still easily fit in a backpack for travels. In the meanwhile, this book will also serve as an outstanding Bible study resource.

The book begins with some vivid maps of First Century Asia Minor, followed by maps of Paul’s First and Second Missionary Journeys. In fact, the maps were created by Tutku Tours. After a brief introduction, chapter 1 introduces us to Ephesus. After background information and Bible history are shared, we get wonderful pictures and a tour guide to the archaeological site. In fact, the map on pages 10 and 11 are the same sort of map you would get if you were touring the site. If you use the map, and then the text, pictures, and descriptions given, you could easily plan your trip. The armchair traveler would feel as if he or she were there too. The paper and visual quality are similar to the small books you often find at tourist sites, though much more true to Bible history.

Chapters 2 and 3 spread out from Ephesus to places like Miletus, Priene, Colossae, Hierapolois, Troas, and Assos. The quality of text, pictures, and tour guide information maintains its high level. Chapter 4 looks at Peter and John’s ministry in Asia Minor while chapter 5 turns its attention to the Seven Churches of Revelation. Finally, chapter 6 continues this history for the years after the New Testament period.

After a brief conclusion, the book ends with a helpful glossary as there are many terms the reader might not be familiar with, timelines for archaeological periods, and historical ones as well. The author even attaches a lengthy bibliography for important commentaries on the New Testament as well as historical and archaeological resources on all the sites studied in the volume.

I’m really impressed with this book and recommended for either Bible touring or Bible study. You’ll be a winner either way!

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 Corinthians (IVPNT) by Johnson

book 1 cor

After reviewing several volumes in the IVP New Testament Commentary series, I find this volume on First Corinthians as one of the best it has to offer. Alan Johnson writes with such heart. Scholarly endeavors never obscured the simple believer in Mr. Johnson. That is not to say that this volume lacks in scholarship, but that it doesn’t lose sight of what’s most important.

In the author’s preface, Mr. Johnson says, “my life has been transformed by the words of Paul in this ancient letter.” He sees First Corinthians as Paul working “through his theology of the cross as lifestyle”.

In the Introduction, Mr. Johnson begins by setting Corinth in its first-century setting. He feels that setting is essential to grasping what First Corinthians is attempting to say. Further, he feels that too much emphasis on Greek culture overlooks the Roman character of Corinth. When Mr. Johnson spoke of the market-service economy in Corinth as well as the impact of tourism on the culture, he brought up points that are not well stated in several other works. He briefly describes the religious environment and social status inconsistencies in Corinth too.

From there, he tackles the subject of Paul, who he states is the author. He tries to fit in Corinth with Paul’s overall chronology. He sees Paul’s purpose for First Corinthians as:” status seeking, self-promotion, a competitive drive for adulation and success, even use of the Christian church as a means of self-promotion and advancement”. He briefly overviews scholarly viewpoints on the integrity of First Corinthians, followed by discussion of rhetoric, major theological themes, and contemporary relevance.

After an outline, he jumps into the commentary itself. It is well done! In my judgment, he always struck the right balance that you are looking for in one of these mid-length commentaries. He got to the heart of the issue quickly without being superficial. I see this commentary as an excellent addition to the library of any pastor or Bible student. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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 (BTCP) by Peterson

book romans btcp

The young Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation (BTCP) series continues its impressive start with this fine volume on Romans by scholar David Peterson. When I saw that Mr. Peterson was scheduled to produce this commentary on Romans, I fully anticipated an excellent volume because of his track record in producing a top-flight commentary on the Book of Acts in the Pillar New Testament Commentary series. Though this series may not go as deep on the exegetical level, it creates its own niche by carefully probing biblical theology with competent exegetical work behind it. Mr. Peterson has proven himself adept at both types of commentary. In other words, he has succeeded with this BTCP volume on the Book of Romans.

The learning that Mr. Peterson brings to the table is clear in the Introduction he writes on the Book of Romans for this volume. Although this series required that he summarize more on introductory matters, the research behind what he says is obvious. He begins by discussing the character of Romans and dives immediately into the epistolary framework of the book. This approach requires deeply probing what Paul was doing at this point of his ministry. The next section is on structure and argument. He agrees with those who see four main divisions in the argument Paul presents. He finally arrives at a new approach that he presents in four literary factors: alternation, refrain, progression/digression, and recursion. Next, he tackles purpose and puts Jews and Roman Christianity in its proper context along with Paul’s mission. He ends with a discussion of continuing relevance for the Book of Romans and an outline of the book.

There’s another introductory chapter that discusses biblical and theological themes found in the Book of Romans. This chapter effectively draws out in accordance with the aims of this series what will be developed throughout the commentary itself. In my view, there’s much to glean in this section to greatly enrich one’s understanding of Romans.

The commentary itself begins with the text, a discussion of context, another of structure, followed by verse by verse commentary. That is followed by a section entitled “bridge” that ties the discussion together and makes some helpful conclusions.

All the volumes in this series so far have been of high quality, and snagging Mr. Peterson for the Romans volume is something of a coup for the editors. It raises the stature of this series. This volume will be appreciated by pastors and 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.

Esther (NIVAC) by Jobes

book esther jobes

The NIVAC commentary series has successfully found a niche as a resource to pick up after you’ve studied the major exegetical commentaries and now need to think about application and contemporary significance. This commentary on Esther by Karen Jobes fulfills the aims of the series effectively.

In the Introduction the author begins with a somewhat subversive illustration to turn our minds toward the subject of the Book of Esther, but becomes much more helpful when she discusses the Book of Esther itself. The style is more succinct, and even breezy, than in some other series, yet the main points are still well covered. The historical background, as well as authorship and date, are all well covered before the author asked the question: is Esther reliable history? I appreciated, especially after having read as many commentaries on Esther as I have, her saying that the objections raised against the historicity of Esther are not “beyond explanation”. She approaches genre in a section about ancient storytelling and argues that Esther has great value whether it’s historically accurate or not. I’m a firm believer in the historicity of Esther, but love seeing her say that the relationship between biblical narrative and history “consciously rests on the concept that God has in fact worked in history through events that really happened”.

Her love of Esther’s story becomes clear in the section on literary structure. Again, this section is not as lengthy as in some of the larger commentaries, but the bases are still well covered. The same could be said of the section on the theology of Esther. Even more in line with the design of this series is the final section on contemporary significance. You will gain some helpful insights.

After a bibliography, she jumps right into the commentary itself. As with every volume in this series, it is divided into original meaning, bridging contexts, and contemporary significance. That design can’t help but have some repetition, but the author did a good job with it. I rate this volume as a success and a worthy addition to your library.

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.

Esther (EEC) by Tomasino

book eec esther

This commentary on Esther is my first foray into the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series. I don’t, therefore, know how this volume compares to others in the series, but I can assure you that this volume by Anthony Tomasino is outstanding. It’s my understanding that this series is produced by Logos Bible Software in digital form for readers. For guys like me who simply must have a hard copy in their hands and can’t quite put up with digital volumes of anything, I’m glad Lexham was produced to release these volumes in print. The good news, then, is that this fine commentary is now available to tech savvy readers and dinosaurs like me.

The Introduction to Esther runs to 130 pages! Don’t let that scare you away. All the pages are put to good use and the layout is such that you can easily skip areas that are not of particular interest to you. After opening with proof that this story has incredible relevance by the repeated attempts at Jewish extermination across the years, he gives a thoughtful synopsis and historical background to Esther and her times. He covers textual issues, sources, date and provenance from every angle. While I could not agree with all the author sees in sources and redaction, this commentary falls firmly into the conservative category. He further explains canonicity. All scholars obsess over genre and historicity when it comes to Esther. I appreciate that when he lists the historical difficulties that most every Esther commentary mentions, he at least doesn’t deny that they could have happened.

If the aforementioned subjects are not that important to you, please pick up reading again on page 70 with the purpose of the book of Esther. Purim, resistance, and all kinds of other literary features are discussed. The characterization is fully developed and well done. I underlined many sentences in the section on motifs, and for the record, I’ve never seen that better done. That takes him through structure and then he dives into theology. When he is finished, it’s clear that he is written the best Introduction in a commentary on the book of Esther that we have today.

The commentary proper includes his own translation, textual notes, commentary biblical theology comments, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography. Though it is a scholarly heavyweight, pastors can jump right in and enjoy this commentary thoroughly. At least, I know I did. Mark this down as holding the number one position in major exegetical commentaries on the book of Esther. 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.