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.

 

Preaching in the New Testament (NSBT) by Jonathan Griffiths

book preaching NSBT

This recent release in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series, written by Jonathan I. Griffiths and edited by D. A. Carson, is a winner! It matches the depth of the series that is respected all around while having something to say about preaching that will be meaningful to every preacher. While I have read and enjoyed many volumes on the subject of preaching in the New Testament, this one is different and lives up to its subtitle in that it goes hard after being an exegetical and biblical-theological study. In other words, it’s less a motivational approach and more of a declaration of what the New Testament specifically says about preaching. By the end of the volume, you will have no doubt that the task of the preacher, or “authoritative public proclamation”, is the design of the Lord revealed in the New Testament.

After a brief Introduction explaining the purpose of this book, the author tackles in Part 1 what he calls foundational matters. He will explain in three chapters the basis of the Word of God in biblical theology as well as the key Greek words for “preaching” in the New Testament. That chapter on those keywords is fascinating (don’t miss the fine charts) and really proves the authors premise by its end. This section is followed by an excursus on who the preachers are in Philippians chapter 1.

Part 2 covering chapters 4 through 9 exegetes six key passages where preaching is discussed in the New Testament. 2 Timothy 3-4, Romans 10, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 2-6, 1 Thessalonians 1-2, and Hebrews are all superbly covered. In some cases, the focus is on a few chapters while others trace words for “preaching” throughout an entire New Testament book. The author succeeds in both of these approaches, and again, in my opinion, proves the place of preaching in the New Testament beyond doubt.

Chapter 10 shares a summary and conclusions. He gives a summary of exegetical findings, followed by his biblical–theological conclusions. I found it easy to agree with every one of his conclusions made here after reading this book. In a day when preaching is held in less repute than former days, this book is just what we need. I’m glad it’s been written and glad to 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.

Understanding Biblical Theology by Klink and Lockett

book und B theo

Edward Klink and Darian Lockett join forces to guide us in defining the term “biblical theology”. In doing so, they will divide the scholarly world into five major schools of thought on the subject. In addition, they will compare theory and practice as well as the origin of it being the church or the academy. Both authors have already published major works. In particular, I greatly admire Klink’s recent commentary on the Gospel of John in ZECNT. I see him as a theological and scholarly writer to keep an eye on in the future.

The introductory chapter surveys what the authors call the spectrum of biblical theology. Though I read widely, I was a little surprised to see what I thought was a commonly accepted term so exactly defined and widely debated. Along the way, they will further try to separate the concept of biblical theology from systematic theology. As will become important as you read the rest of the text, in this introductory chapter they define the issues involved that divide scholars. How the Old Testament connects to the New Testament, whether we should look for historical diversity or theological unity, the impact of the scope and sources of biblical theology, what the actual subject matter of biblical theology is, and finally, whether biblical theology should be defined by the church or the academy. Make sure you linger over the small chart on page 22 that shows a logical way to view the five schools of thought. Spoiler alert: there’s an outstanding summary chart at the end of the book that will make it possible for you to review and make sure you followed the line of thought given in this book.

The design of the book is simple. There’s a chapter of defining the particular school of thought followed by a chapter that fully examines one of its major proponents. In a nutshell, you have biblical theology as historical description with James Barr, as history of redemption with D. A. Carson, as worldview-story with N. T. Wright, as canonical approach with Brevard Childs, and as theological construction with Francis Watson. Please don’t ask me where I land even after reading this book, though I find myself vacillating between the first two schools of thought. Strangely, each point of view had some aspects worth considering, even if some of them had more serious drawbacks.

Some might find this subject a hair too finally split, but I can’t imagine a resource that could more capably define the parameters of this subject. Believe it or not, the authors were so faithful to their task of explaining why this issue is hard and how it’s been viewed that they never championed one viewpoint over the others. This is THE book on the subject.

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 Spurgeon Journal–The Perfect Gift!

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You’ve surely heard of one of the publishing feats of recent years in the publication of the lost sermons of Charles Spurgeon. Available in both a hardback and deluxe collector’s edition, this set when complete will be a treasure for Spurgeon fans or those who love preaching in general. Many are building their set one volume at a time as they are released. B & H Publishers has also created this exquisite ruled journal in a matching style to the set. Journaling is the rage these days, and I’ve hardly seen one that looks nicer than this one. It’s a leather-bound beauty!

This 5” x 8.25” Journal grabs your attention at first sight. You will notice Spurgeon’s signature embossed on the lower right-hand of the cover. When you open the book, you’ll see a place to put your name with another faint rendition of Spurgeon’s signature below. The next page gives a blurb about the 12 volumes of the Lost Sermons set. That’s followed by an open table of contents where you can approach the 140 sermons in the order you prefer. What’s labeled as page 1 has a place for you to put the date in the top right-hand corner with the ruled lines for your reflections filling the rest of the page. Some pages have profound quotes by Spurgeon at the bottom, with the following page giving the title and sermon number of the Spurgeon sermon that the quote was pulled from.

This journal on acid-free paper is the perfect size and feel. If you like journals, you will love this one. My guess is that any pastor would find it the perfect gift. In my view, no corners were cut in producing a journal worthy of the monumental set of the lost sermons of Spurgeon.

I received this journal 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 Maturity by J. Oswald Maturity

book spiritual mat

Oswald Sanders writes in a similar vein as he did in “Spiritual Leadership”. Though this title is not as well-known as his leadership classic, it probes with the same depth into spiritual maturity. As the subtitle says, he brings out principles of spiritual growth for every believer. It is an outstanding book.

He has a Trinitarian breakdown in the three parts of this book. In part one he writes on the overruling providence of God, in part two on the supreme vision of Christ, and in part three he writes on the Holy Spirit as the breath of God. As the editors say in the preface, this title “is not just a ‘how-to’, but a ‘be’ volume”.

In part one, he first tackles Romans 8:28 and goes beyond the usual shallow interpretations we find for that verse. He does find the good. In the next chapter, we get an outstanding vision of our God and how it always led to “profound self-abasement”. I love this chapter. Next, he finds the persevering love in the Lord being called the God of Jacob. In another chapter, he reviews the purposes of God’s disciplines as well as the perfected strength He gives. In chapter 6, he probes the ugliness of pride. After that, he discusses faith, deliverance, and the compensations of faith.

In part two, he first uses Revelation 5:9 to look at the transcendent worthiness of Christ. Chapter 10 looks at intercession, which he calls the unfinished work of Christ. In chapter 11, he takes one of the Beatitudes and describes Christ’s ideal of character. We also get looks at discipleship on Christ’s terms in one chapter and another on seeing the message to the church at Ephesus as a personal letter from Christ. In chapter 14, he describes what he calls a “reigning life through Christ”.

In part three, he first describes what he means by the Spirit being the breath of God, followed by an explanation of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Later chapters consider the purging fire of the Spirit, the mighty dynamic of the Spirit, and the missionary passion of the Spirit. The remaining two chapters makes sense of the controversial subject of speaking with tongues.

I underlined many lines in every chapter. The beautiful part about this work is how he draws his conclusions from the biblical text itself. In addition to being such a helpful devotional book, this is a good example for preachers in communicating truth. Mark down this title as a real jewel.

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.

The Letter to Philemon (NICNT) by Scot McKnight

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Here’s an interesting commentary. Philemon, something like the forgotten little brother of the New Testament, gets its own standalone volume in the venerated New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) series. Scot McKnight, a respected New Testament scholar, pens the ideal commentary on Philemon, coming in at 127 pages. In a few months, McKnight will also have a commentary on Colossians come in print in the same series. This replaces, or at least will replace when Ephesians is redone, the long-standing work by F. F. Bruce.

After a fine bibliography, McKnight turns in an Introduction of a little over 40 pages. A section on slavery in the Roman Empire makes up two thirds of the Introduction. While McKnight admits at times that slavery may not be the main theme of Philemon, he goes somewhat awry in writing at length as if it were. Still, it is a fascinating read on slavery. He brings in some modern information that strikes me as having little to do with Philemon, yet you will enjoy reading it. It seems to me that the theme of Philemon may have more to do with the world that a Christian finds him- or herself living in rather than a polemic against slavery. In fairness, you couldn’t really write a major academic work on Philemon without addressing the slavery issue as it has dominated the discussion for the last few decades.

The rest of the Introduction is in a more typical mode. He spends only a paragraph on authorship and date as the traditional conclusions are comparatively rarely disputed. In the next section, he discusses the relationship between Onesimus, Philemon, and Paul and feels that the traditional view that Onesimus was a runaway slave is most likely the case. In a section on the events at work in the Letter to Philemon, McKnight attempts to untangle the issues we will encounter. Though it’s a short section, McKnight is quite effective in explaining structure, rhetoric, and clarity of Philemon.

The commentary proper begins on page 49 and is well done. He provides the text, a few textual notes, an overview of the passage, and then quality verse by verse commentary. Scholars will love the copious footnotes on each page while pastors would do well to at least scan them as they contain some great information. The commentary is top-notch.

Most commentators like to lump Philemon with Colossians. In the preface, McKnight explains why that might not be a good idea. In any event, very few commentary series give Philemon its own volume. In my opinion, this volume outshines its two main competitors: Philemon by Joseph Fitzmyer in the Anchor Bible series and Philemon in the EEC series by Markus Barth and Helmut Blanke. Simply put, McKnight is newer, respects the text more, and makes better judgments. This is the standalone volume on Philemon that every pastor will want.

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.

Isaiah 40-66 (Interpretation) by Hanson

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Paul D. Hanson covers Isaiah 40 – 66 in the Interpretation Bible Commentary (IBC) series, picking up where Christopher Seitz left off. In the preface, the author gives his explanation for why the book of Isaiah was divided in this series while most other books of the Bible were not.

He doesn’t provide an Introduction to Isaiah, or even to Isaiah 40 – 66, as a whole. Instead, he divides this work into two parts with the first one being on Isaiah 40 – 55. He does, however, give a good overview in these two sections. He begins his overview in part one by covering the historical setting. He writes well and always incorporates the theological underpinnings. Next, he discusses the personal dimension of the prophetic message, and then goes into the worldview of what he calls “Second Isaiah”. He ends the overview by discussing the literary qualities found in this section.

From there, he jumps into the commentary section, which is more of a passage by passage presentation rather than a verse by verse one. He highlights both God’s compassion and justice often. There’s much theology throughout.

In part two, he tackles Isaiah 56 – 66, which he calls “Third Isaiah”. The overview and the following commentary are done in the same fashion as before. While I cannot agree with several historical or source theory statements, I do appreciate the theology he draws out throughout the book.

This book is a great companion to its predecessor on Isaiah 1 – 39. Again, the author makes good use of the IBC format. I recommend this book for those looking for one of the better critical presentations on Isaiah out there today.

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.

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.