Mark (NTL) by Eugene Boring

book mark boring

Eugene Boring’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark is one of the most highly regarded in the New Testament Library (NTL) series. Mr. Boring is quite respected in the scholarly world and this book is just one of several of his major titles. Though he is much less conservative than I am, he has a knack for throwing out provocative thoughts that I enjoy considering when studying a passage in Mark’s Gospel.

In his Introduction, he covers all the bases in 25 pages. There was a substantial bibliography before the Introduction began too. More than some writers, he focuses on Mark’s specific audience, and says this gospel is one to be read aloud “in the context of a worshiping congregation”. Though he sometimes confuses the Jesus of history as someone different than the Jesus that Mark writes about, he does trace beautifully the story that’s being written. He feels that genre is one of the most important aspects to getting at Mark’s meaning. Though I really can’t agree with Mr. Boring on his conclusions on sources, date, and provenance, nor his conclusions about Mark 13, he is a clear writer in stating his conclusions. He pulls out many details that you might miss within the text that can give some great thoughts. His discussions of author, purpose, text and transmission, and language, translation, interpretation, though, are all quite brief. His historical conclusions are odd, but in any event, he believes the main content of Mark’s narrative is theological.

His actual commentary is even better. This is where he sees things that others miss. Even if you don’t agree with his conclusion about what he found, you will love being able to dwell on the nuggets he dug up. The real value of this commentary is here.

This commentary is now available in a more economical paperback edition. It’s one of the more important mid-sized commentaries on the Gospel of Mark. You will enjoy checking 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.

Entrusted With The Gospel–A Book Review

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This book, edited by Andreas Kostenberger and Terry Wilder, collects 12 scholarly articles on the Pastoral Epistles. They cover matters similar to what you might find in the introduction of a major commentary and discussions of theological issues. The editors provide the first two articles while the others are provided by other scholars who have a good background in the Pastoral Epistles.

You will likely find some articles more interesting than others, just as I did, as a matter of personal interest. For example, I’m so convinced that the books in the New Testament are written by those they’re attributed to, that I find a discussion of pseudonymity pointless. Still, if that’s your thing, you’ll find a good article about it here.

I found the article that describes the stewardship theme of the Pastoral Epistles to be very interesting, as was the one on cohesion and structure. There is good coverage of Christology and the prevalence of salvation found in these letters. One of the very best articles was the one on ecclesiology as there are so many local church issues discussed in the Pastoral Epistles. Paul Wolfe has an article that exegetes several of the more debated versus in these epistles. In addition to ethics and mission in the pastoral epistles, well-known scholar Howard Marshall gives a detailed overview of all the recent literature on these epistles (since 1998).

This book accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. The contributors are more conservative and the scholarship more dependable than many such books. This book is important in any major scholarly study of the Pastoral Epistles.

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.

Five Festal Garments by Barry Webb

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I wish other scholarly books read like this one. It could make a prototype for future scholarly monographs. For one thing, he loved to read the New Testament back into these five wonderful Old Testament books. These five books – Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther – became the five short Old Testament books that were sung in the great festivals of Israel. Though they are not together in our Bibles, it’s still a great idea to look at them together. Mr. Webb has hit a home run and packed an incredible amount of material in 150 pages.

Mr. Webb describes these books as sitting on the edge of the canon because they had more trouble with acceptance than any in the Old Testament. In the chapter on each of the five books he crams in much material like you might find in an introduction in a commentary, but the depth can’t hide the warm spiritual truth he uncovers for Christians.

He broke down the Song of Solomon in an incredible way. He describes the incredible statement it makes about love between a man and a woman in a tasteful way. He may not see it as a picture of the love of Christ for his church as much as I do, but he does finally conclude that there’s something of the love of God in it.

Without getting bogged down as I’ve seen so many scholars do, he broke down the episodes of the book of Ruth. He beautifully brought out the theology to be found in this amazing little book. He also discussed Ruth as salvation history, which many scholars will no longer do.

He sets the scene of suffering in the book of Lamentations and makes sense of its structure. Again, the theology was spot on. I may not have agreed with all his conclusions on Ecclesiastes, but I was intrigued by what he had to say. In the chapter on Esther he addressed the charge that it’s a secular book. He did see Esther and Mordecai as more conflicted characters than Bible characters like, say, Daniel. Again, he provided us with many avenues of study.

I enjoyed this book. I sat down and read it straight through in about two hours. I don’t see how anyone could read it without benefit. It’s an awesome 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.

Luke (NTL) by John Carroll

book luke NTL

This commentary is a fairly recent entry in the well-known New Testament Library (NTL) series. Before I received this book, I had heard reports that it was one of the most practical volumes in the series for pastors. Now that I’ve had a chance to get into it, I must agree. It’s a quality midsize commentary for the Gospel of Luke.

After an extensive bibliography, Mr. Carroll gets into his Introduction on Luke’s Gospel. Though rather brief, I felt it covered all the bases well. In fact, it might be the length that many pastors would prefer. He begins by explaining Luke’s impressive qualities, including he says, “Christian historian, gifted storyteller, literary artist, and theologian”. He sees Luke is drawing the picture of Jesus within the Roman world. As you will find in most such commentaries, he outlines what has been believed about Luke being the author of this gospel. He dates Luke’s Gospel later than I would. He discusses genre and purpose followed by the suggested approach to reading Luke’s Gospel. He feels that Luke applies his story to Israel’s story. He sees Luke’s Gospel as the theocentric and says, “what drives the story as God’s faithful commitment and relentless activity to accomplish the divine purpose for Israel, and through Israel for all people”. Finally, after discussing textual issues of the Gospel of Luke, he gets into the design of the narrative, which covers issues of structure. All in all, it’s an introduction well done.

The commentary itself was well done. He brought in appropriate background material, defined the meaning of words, and did lose track of the narrative flow of the gospel of Luke. Every passage I checked had meaningful, helpful commentary that you could appreciate. In fact, I compared some passages to what I had read in some of my favorite larger exegetical commentaries, and Mr. Carroll had something worthwhile to share in every passage. This is a good resource to add to your shelves.

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.

John (NTL) by Thompson

book john NTL

This commentary on the Gospel of John is one of the latest in the New Testament Library (NTL) series published by WJK. This volume is designed to be a major mid-length commentary for those who study in the Gospel of John. It is aimed more at those who teach than scholars. You will find it quite suggestive on many passages.

Marianne Meye Thompson explains in her preface that she has worked 17 years on this commentary. That’s a lot of time for mature reflection. It’s also fair to say that this is one of the more conservative volumes in this series. She chooses not to debate the historicity of the stories in John’s Gospel, but just comments on the text that we have.

I could not agree with her that the John of this Gospel was not the John, who was the son of Zebedee. Still, the Introduction to John’s Gospel she gave was filled with helpful insights. You could sense a love of the gospel of John as you read her comments. She makes some great comments on how John is different than the Synoptic Gospels. The discussion of Jesus as the son of God in both the Introduction and a later excursus (excursus 2) showed that this was an area of the author’s expertise. I thought her explanation of how matters affecting ritual purity were absent from John was well-made as well.

The section on structure was rather short though competent, and her opinion on the dating of John landed at the conservative position of the 90s. She stated that this commentary “focuses on the gospel’s account of Jesus of Nazareth: what he said, what he did, how is life ended, and what happened after his death.” To my mind, this commentary achieves the goals the author set out at the beginning.

Though it was not as in-depth as some of the major exegetical commentaries out there, I thought the commentary proper was both interesting and helpful. She wrote in a clear way that was easy to understand. I could not agree with all her conclusions, but I appreciated the way she wrote. I checked several passages in this commentary, and the quality was consistent throughout.

If you’re looking for an additional voice in your studies of John’s Gospel, you would do well to cure this volume for your shelves. 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 Theology of Mark’s Gospel by David Garland

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This book is the equivalent of a whole shelf of books on the Gospel of Mark. Veteran commentator, David Garland, has written an ideal volume here. Think of it as a book that summarizes all the issues and themes that scholars often talk about involving Mark’s Gospel to put beside your commentaries on Mark. Fortunately, Zondervan is putting out a whole series called the Biblical Theology of the New Testament (BTNT) in eight volumes to cover the New Testament. Authors in the series are required to have already written a commentary on one of the books in their section. Mr. Garland has already written a commentary on Mark in the NIVAC series. Though its stated audience is for upper college and seminary-level students, I found it, as a pastor, accessible and easier to read than many volumes of its kind.

The book is divided into two parts, though that division is a little skewed. Part one only has two chapters covering introductory matters while the rest of the whole book is on major themes in Mark’s theology. While those first two chapters on introductory matters were well done, I feel part two is where the immense value of the book comes out.

Do you know why I find chapters 3 through 14 so valuable? It’s because all the issues that I’ve encountered in commentary reading on Mark’s Gospel get discussed in a clear, suggestive summary of what’s been believed and straightforward reasoning behind conclusions Mr. Garland offers. Some of these subjects were ones I’ve tried to get smaller individual volumes on, but was thrilled to find them all here.

He discusses what the introduction of Mark 1:1-13 means. He covers the Christological titles of Jesus, such as the Son of Man. Other standout chapters were his explaining the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Mark. He made great sense of the secrecy motifs that you so often hear of in regards to Mark’s Gospel. Another subject that you hear about so often is the prominence of discipleship and he covered it in great depth. Don’t miss chapter 10 on the requirements, costs, and rewards of discipleship – that chapter is quite perceptive. He makes clear what the atonement means in Mark’s Gospel, and as you might expect, covers Mark’s eschatology. The last chapter is on the debate over the end of Mark’s gospel, and though I find the longer ending more accurate, he well covers the issues.

As I said before, I can’t believe how many volumes I’ve looked for that could be replaced by this one volume. For my money, it’s quite a bargain.

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.

Luke (ZECNT) by David Garland

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With every new title in this Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series that I delve into, I find my appreciation growing. This series is well conceived and this entry by seasoned-commentator David Garland adds to the laurels of the series. In addition to commentaries on a few New Testament epistles, Mr. Garland has already produced a volume on Mark in the NIVAC series. He is equally at ease in either the Gospels or the epistles.

In his Introduction to Luke, Mr. Garland discusses the authorship of Luke and Acts. In accepting Luke as the author, he strives to dig a little deeper into who Luke actually is. He keeps his discussion of Luke’s sources mercifully brief and jumps on into the genre of Luke and Acts. He sees Luke as both an historian and apologist. The next section is called “date, provenance, and the readers of Luke-Acts”. Unlike some other commentaries I’ve read, he discusses those three issues together rather than separately. There’s even in that section some great information that some others might put in the category of structure. He makes some nice, valid points about Luke’s purpose in writing this gospel. The only disappointment in the Introduction is that his section on structure is only an outline.

I found the commentary proper of even more value. That’s not to say I didn’t disagree with him on some points. For example, the meaning of the word “inn” in the birth of Christ is much more conducive to the traditional meaning that Mr. Garland seems to believe. Most other commentators would not agree with him on that one either. Still, the commentary is of extraordinary value. Every passage I surveyed offered the kind of things I’m looking for in a commentary.

Mr. Garland appears comfortable with the ZECNT format. In each passage, he discussed the literary context, stated the main idea, offered his own translation, explain the structure and literary form, and gave an exegetical outline before launching into a detailed explanation of the text. That is followed by a theology in application section that helps preachers bridge the gap between exegetical information and the sermon.

Having reviewed the volumes on Mark and John, and now reviewing this volume on Luke, I’m amazed at the quality this series has given us on these three Gospels. This volume is ideal for pastors. Think of it as being helpful like the NAC series with a little more depth. 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.

Luke (NAC) by Robert Stein

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Robert Stein has written a quality volume for the New American Commentary series. I have long felt that the NAC series is a top choice for pastors in terms of content and price. Though the volumes are slightly shorter than some of the other exegetical commentary series, the help these volumes provide is still top-notch. This volume on Luke is one of the better volumes in the series.

The Introduction is succinct, power packed, and covers an amazing amount of information in its pages. In just a few pages he covers the authorship of Luke by examining internal evidence, church tradition, and the “we” sections and, to my mind, unanswerably proves that Luke was the author. He surveys well the various opinions on the date of Luke. He reminds us that Acts was never intended to be either Paul or Peter’s biography, but sought to tell the story of taking the gospel to the world. Though such things are highly suspect to me, he covers scholarly opinion on the sources of Luke. Though he finds outlines rather arbitrary, he provided a good one.

I fully agree with his conclusion that the purposes of Luke ought not be pigeonholed into a single purpose. He explains what he believes to be the four main purposes of Luke and provides a great deal of detail in explaining his case. I thought it was effective. His section on the theological emphases in Luke was also highly suggestive. By the time you get to the fine map that ends the Introduction, you may feel as I did that it was the kind of Introduction that really helps a pastor.

I found help in the many passages I reviewed in this volume. He was never trite, and he provides real assistance to one who preaches the Gospel of Luke. I highly recommend this volume to all my fellow pastors out there. You won’t 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.

The Gospel of John (NICNT) by Michaels

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J. Ramsey Michaels has provided us with a massive commentary on the Gospel of John in the New International Commentary of the New Testament series. This volume replaced the much-used and much-loved commentary by Leon Morris in that series. I had read good things about this book, and even had a few people say it was their favorite, so I was happy to delve into it for myself. Though I was ultimately convinced that I must give this book a high rating, I did find a few things not in its favor.

The Introduction, in my view, was not up to par for commentaries of this size. In defense of Mr. Michaels, he purposely kept it short and feels that Introductions would be better written after the fact. It almost read like a few reflections he wanted to share when he was finished. There’s not a lot of background either, but he also chose not to go that direction. He feels such background makes better sense in specific passages. The first part of his Introduction on the nature of John’s Gospel was interesting. He commented most on the authorship of the Gospel of John and was sympathetic to the traditional position, but choose to keep it anonymous since the author’s name is not mentioned. He almost sees anonymity as a trait of this gospel. He speaks only briefly of truth claims, the relationship of John to the other Gospels, and the structure of John’s Gospel, which I thought was the most lacking in the Introduction. He barely spoke of textual issues, and his section on theological contributions, which was good, was only four pages.

One other issue I had with the volume was that what he called the first tier of commentaries that helped him write his was Bultmann (!), Schnackenburg, Brown, and Barrett. At least Morris, Carson, and Keener were in his second tier. I felt at times that his first tier had too much influence on what he said. On the other hand, I would agree with many others who say that he came up with his own unique, fresh perspective.

You may ask why I would still rate this a five-star commentary considering the issues I have stated I have with it. Why must I? It’s the incredible, thoughtful content in the commentary itself. Every passage I interacted with taught me things that I had read nowhere else. Even though there might be a sentence that I disagreed with, in the next paragraph he would tie the passage into the larger context of John, or tie it into some other passage in John, or give some amazing exegetical insight that I found extremely helpful.

All in all, while this may not be my first choice on the Gospel of John, it is one that I will always consult going forward. A book that gets me thinking and opens other side paths in grasping a passage’s meaning is a winner in my book. 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.

Acts (NTL) by Holladay

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Carl Holladay has produced the latest volume in the New Testament Library series. The Book of Acts has had several major commentaries in the last few years, but this one shoots more at being a midsized commentary. There’s a little over 500 pages for the entire Book of Acts. Though NTL is known for being more from the critical camp, I found it more conservative than I expected. In addition, I found it helpful.

Though the commentary as a whole is midsized, he provided a major introduction in 70 pages. Frankly, it was a joy to read. Even if I didn’t agree on every point, I appreciated the clear writing. He is not antagonistic to Luke being the author and he can accept a more conservative date though he would only be nailed down to a rather large range of dates. For sure, I was more confident of the historical trustworthiness of the history Luke provided than Mr. Holladay was.

Scholars will love his detailed description of the textual history of Acts that covered several pages, though that will be the least interesting part of the Introduction to most pastors. I became very interested again when he discussed the literary structure. His discussion of the speeches in the Book of Acts was outstanding including theology and purpose of the speeches. His explanation of the use of “witness” and use of the Old Testament was helpful. The final section of the narrative unity of Luke-Acts was thought-provoking. Again, I found much food for thought about what the Book of Acts seeks to accomplish.

The commentary proper was briefer than some of the other major commentaries I use, but still included several creative thoughts and every passage I reviewed.

This book might not be the first commentary I turn to when studying Acts, but it is one I will be checking in future studies. I predict this may become one of the more respected volumes in the 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.