The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Rev. Ed.)–Volume 8, Daniel-Malachi

book ebc 8

Mark me down as someone who has loved and used the earlier EBC set for years. This new set, edited by Tremper Longman and David Garland, has been one I’ve wanted to check out and this volume 8 is my first foray into the set. One thing is clear: the revision is a success. Not only is much brought up to date and improved, but the way the original series was envisioned remained. In other words, real depth with a corresponding succinctness for busy pastors.

In Daniel, Andrew Hill replaced the late Gleason Archer. There’s a much more scholarly feel and less direct eschatology. Gone is Archer’s clear premillennial position that is replaced by Hill’s survey of opinions. Still, Hill provides what I’d call an astute presentation that can run with the big dogs of exegetical commentaries. A similar thing happened in Carroll R.’s replacement of Leon Wood for Hosea.

Richard Patterson took his fine work on Joel and made it better. In Amos and Micah editor Tremper Longman took the late Thomas McComiskey’s work and updated to the extent that he is now listed as the co-author. The effort is a good one. Carl Amerding updated his work on Obadiah, Nahum, and Habakkuk to good effect. John Walton turned in a more scholarly effort on Jonah than did H. L. Ellison, though I wish he could see his way clear to see it as “journalistic history”. He still came to pretty conservative positions.

In Zephaniah, Larry Walker updated his earlier work and I really loved it. Haggai and Malachi were greatly improved by Eugene Merrill, a scholar I always enjoy. Kenneth Barker updated his work on Zechariah and kept a dispensational outlook. It was yet another success for the project.

This book has a lot going for it. A quality help on Daniel and all the Minor Prophets between two covers means that for an economical price you can build your library more quickly. This is a winner all the 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.

James (NICNT) by Scot McKnight

book james nicnt

Scot McKnight gives us this replacement volume in the venerable New International Commentary (NICNT) series. That series was aimed at pastors originally, but has since expanded its scope for scholarly types. Pastors can glean deeply from it, but it covers all the issues. Still like the earlier volumes is the fact that it has no untranslated Greek. A funny aside is how a major volume in another series by Eerdmans (James by Moo in the Pillar series) is written by McKnight’s dear friend. Both are well worth having.

In McKnight’s Introduction to James he shows a keen appreciation for the complexities of the letter even while confessing that some of those complexities were foisted on James by scholars. His charge of some scholars being “obsessed” with certain strange developments of study is undoubtably true.  His discussion of “James in the Story” is at once interesting and clear. He does a fine job in explaining how James gets tangled with Paul, even though it may be more of our starting point than a true divergence. Still, I can’t agree with all his Paul-James controversy points.

His discussion of who James was carefully laid out the possibilities and reached conservative conclusions after wading deeply. His dating of James was early. His portrayal of themes in James was helpful and the section on structure was excellent as it shared so many opinions of other influential scholars before he arrived at his own.

The commentary section focuses to advantage on the text. I enjoyed it. Again, it might sound scholarly, but it will add to your understanding of this letter that perplexes many. You should 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.

Luke 3 (Hermeneia) by Bovon

book lk 3

Many multi-volume commentaries lose steam by the final volume. In this case, Francois Bovon carries a consistently high standard of quality to the end of this three-volume set in the Hermeneia series. Known in the commentary world for its great theological reflection, this final commentary continues its wow factor all across its pages.

This volume covers Luke 19:28-24:53. That means that he will pick up the story Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and then follow Luke through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. As with the other volumes, each passage begins with a bibliography, his translation, an analysis that includes structure and textual issues, commentary, and an excellent history of interpretation. Sometimes his comments on structure are interesting, but I usually disagree with him on most of his textual opinions and historical evaluations.

Though you will find things you may disagree with completely, there’s all kinds of interesting things throughout the story of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. As that is the crux of the Bible itself, you will love having those insights that make you stop and say, wow, I’ve never thought about before.

You probably wouldn’t consider purchasing this final volume on Luke’s gospel, unless you intended to buy the whole set. It’s a plunge I recommend you take. Particularly, if you’re building a major exegetical commentary library. In fact, I don’t see how you can say you had that type of library unless these three attractive volumes sat on 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.

1 & 2 Thessalonians (ZECNT)

book zec thess

The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary is quickly becoming one of my favorite commentary series. The format is ideal for pastors or students and easy to follow. It yields great insight from the type of work scholars do and good theology that you might expect from a pastor. Don’t let the Greek scare you off as the English is always nearby and all arguments can be followed without difficulty.

Thessalonians is given treatment by scholar Gary Shogren. His Introduction begins with an exciting portrait of the birth of the Thessalonian church and the events of Paul’s ministry surrounding it. The description of Thessalonica is vividly told. A few pages in he even described life in that church and it felt like you were there. His telling of the treatment of Jews there further brought it to life.

He took on critical issues next and well described what has been believed. He was more generous than I could have been toward some of them, but you gained an awareness of the swirling of the scholarly world on Thessalonians. His own conclusions were conservative.

Some may not like his section on eschatology. Of course there’s enough eschatology in it that any commentator will have to disappoint somebody, but he was a little harsh toward those who believe in a pre-tribulational rapture. That section is followed by a detailed outline and a select bibliography.

The commentary was good as Shrogen obviously felt comfortable with the distinct ZECNT style. You will not find it shallow.

I recommend this to pastors and students seeking real help on Thessalonians.

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.

Galatians (ZECNT) by Thomas Schreiner

book zec gal

Chalk this book up as another outstanding volume in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary (ZECNT) series that has turned out a remarkably consistent set of commentaries. This time respected scholar Thomas Schreiner does the spade work that uses the ZECNT design that helps pastors and students alike and presents Galatians in a clear and helpful way.

Schreiner doesn’t leave us guessing as in the first few paragraphs of the Introduction  his approach (a belief that the Reformers got it right, but not a defense of the Reformation itself)is laid out. I love how he dispensed with authorship in 3 sentences as there is no credible reason to doubt Paul. In his discussion of the recipients of the letter, he succinctly and fairly explains the both the North and South Galatian theories that divides scholars. He explains that it all rides on how Galatians correlates with Acts before he goes through all the arguments and concludes that the South Galatian theory is correct.

He goes on to explain date, background, opponents, and what the issue that Galatians addresses is all about. He provides discussion on structure before he proceeds to an outline.

The commentary is rich and, as expected, provides literary context, the main idea, a diagram, structure, an exegetical outline, and followed by detailed explanation of the text. Each passage concludes with a well done section on theology in application.

Again, ZECNT has provided one of the best commentaries of which I am aware on a particular New Testament book. You will want to add this volume to your shelves on the important book of Galatians.

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 (Pillar) by Kruse

book romans pillar

This book is one of the finest scholarly commentaries that balances its discussion to maintain great value for pastors available today. In replacing Leon Morris’s volume in the vaunted Pillar New Testament Commentary series, which was a favorite for many of us, this volume had better be good. Even with that pressure, this book lived up to expectations. It’s thoroughly conservative, carefully written, readable, and persuasive. Somehow it covers all the bases and does so succinctly in only 600 pages for the incredibly profound Book of Romans.

The Introduction is superb. It makes complex subjects understandable. It begins with historical background that puts Rome, Roman Christians, and Paul in appropriate context. He well explains the purpose of Romans and what scholars have thought on the subject. He gives conservative conclusions on authorship, date, and the integrity of the text.

He gave a thoughtful summary on the New Perspective of Paul that is as good as I’ve seen. He writes respectfully and yet can’t hide the utter weakness of that viewpoint. From there, he transitions to a fine discussion of theological themes. He sees Father, Son, and Spirit pervading Romans and concludes that “the gospel of God comprehensively conceived” is the heart of Romans.

The commentary itself has punch. I couldn’t agree with all his classic reformed viewpoints, but his tone, scholarly scope, and accessibility is a joy. As an added bonus, you will find numerous weighty “Additional Note” sections.

This book is a top commentary on the vital Book of Romans available today. Put it in the must-have 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.

Matthew (NAC) by Blomberg

book matthew nac

This book has gained a high reputation in the economical, pastor-friendly New American Commentary (NAC) series. Craig Blomberg has earned expert status in the scholarly world on the Gospels. Don’t miss his Preface where he tells what he thinks about commentaries series in general, and why the NAC is worthwhile.

Blomberg says his focus could be labeled “a cautious evangelical redaction criticism”. I love “cautious” and “evangelical”, but must admit my least favorite paragraphs were those explaining his views on “redaction criticism”. Scholars often miss that pastors find that the least helpful type of thing that scholarship provides. Some of us are convinced it’s not even accurate. Still, don’t let that turn you away from this commentary. It nevertheless contains the things pastors are looking for, and they are well done at that.

The Introduction does a great job sharing various viewpoints about structure. He works his way to his own conclusion that sees value in a couple of opinions out there (Kingsbury and Bacon particularly). He wisely sees structure as a springboard to theology and gives us several pages that gets to the heart of Matthew. Again, his section on sources doesn’t do much for me, but I appreciated his conservative conclusions on date, authorship, and historicity.

The commentary proper never fails to provide help. The quality remains constant throughout. There might be points I’d disagree with, but every passage was of high quality.

Though this commentary would be considered mid-length (many people’s preference), and pastor/teacher friendly (even more people’s preference), it still can run with the big boys in the exegetical commentary field. 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.

Pastoral Theology by Akin and Pace

book pastoral theology

Daniel Akin and R. Scott Pace team to provide us with an outstanding volume on pastoral theology. Its design is what sets it apart from others in the field. It aims at more than the “what” by focusing on the “why”. That doesn’t mean that the book isn’t practical, but that it draws its practicality by providing the reader with a stronger desire to take pastoral work seriously.

The book begins with more theological foundation and builds to pastoral ministry. Section One has three chapters covering theological, Christological, and pneumatological doctrine and the relationship for the pastor and God’s character, champion, and Companion.

Section Two covers anthropology, ecclesiology, and missiology. This guides us even more to ministry. From there, the book blossoms into a passionate plea for preaching and pastoral ministry. Every page was full of nuggets. I don’t see how any preacher couldn’t be deeply challenged, guided, and encouraged. The chapter on balancing our families in ministry is worth the price of the book.

This book succeeds on both the level of theology and ministry. I can’t imagine a better book for pastoral theology. Let’s read it and remind ourselves why our ministry is so critically important and how scriptural the ministry is!

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 Twice-Told Tale by Bendavid

book twice told

Carta Jerusalem continues its trend of providing unique, interesting, and helpful titles of the type that you just can’t find anywhere else. This title by Abba Bendavid makes sense of a part of the Bible that many have trouble with and usually just overlook– the Books of Chronicles. Probably you have struggled through the multiple genealogies that begin Chronicles and the chapters that seem to repeat Kings. This book is a tool that will really enliven your studies of Chronicles and help you see why it is not a pointless repetition.

This English edition of a work originally written in Hebrew is edited and ably introduced by scholar Mordechai Cogan, who is known for his work on Kings. He explains the design of the book and how to glean the most from it. He further explains why the KJV with its more literal translation method is a good one for this project.

The book provides a collation of parallel texts to see how Chronicles compares with other texts. Those parallels are, as you would expect, with Kings, but also with other texts going back to Genesis. Its design is primarily that you can do your own study and draw your own conclusions.

This volume lives up to its press and is an outstanding asset for all students of the Old Testament. 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.

Luke 2 (Hermeneia) by Bovon

book luke 2

Francois Bovon continues the high standard of commentary that he began in the first volume of this three-volume set in the Hermeneia series. The level of scholarship and probing theological reflection remains at its commendable level. This volume is huge as it is actually one combined volume of what was two volumes in the original German and French. The translation is so well done you would never know it was originally in another language.

This volume covers Luke 9:51-19:27. That section is known as the Travel Narrative and is Luke’s most unique section. Bovon continues with the same format as we found in volume 1. In each section of commentary, he begins with a bibliography and translation. From there, he provides a section he calls “analysis” that discusses sources. That is, to my mind, the least valuable section and his certainty when he discusses sources is somewhat grating.  Next, he moves into commentary verse-by-verse of a most outstanding quality. A final section of the history of interpretation really moves this commentary into a special category.

Maybe the best way I can illustrate why this book is such a jewel is to refer you to some great passages of Luke that are favorites of many of us. In the section on The Good Samaritan, Bovon goes through the story seeing details others miss as well as their theological significance. Both in his own analysis and his discussion of the history of interpretation he allows for the allegorical interpretation of Christ being the Good Samaritan. Most modern exegetical commentaries run right by that possibility.

Then there’s his discussion of the Parable of the Prodical Son, which he wisely calls the Parable of Two Sons. He explains inheritance in those days as well as I’ve seen. He shares so many theological nuggets that most miss. It was truly an exciting section to read. There are many other such passages in this commentary.

This commentary is truly special and unique, and I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.