Biblical studies: March 2007 Archives

I've organized most of my lists of volumes in commentary series both in canonical order and in chronological order of publication. This is the chronological listing of the volumes in the New American Commentary series, first for the whole Bible and then for the Old Testament and New Testament separately. The list of volumes in canonical order can be found here.

[Note: The volumes on Daniel and Galatians were released in the same month. I do not know the exact publication dates. Therefore, I don't know which came out first if they were published on different dates. I had to list one of them before the other, so I went with canonical order. All the others are in chronological publication order.]

This is a list of the current and forthcoming commentaries in the New American Commentary (NAC). For a chronological list according to publication date, see here. For more series, see my post on commentary series. This series is published by Broadman and Holman, and thus its commitments will reflect those of the current people behind that publisher, who are conservative Southern Baptists. Not every commentator in the series is a dispensationalist SBC type (e.g. a few are Reformed Baptists with other eschatological perspectives), but all volumes can be expected to affirm inerrancy and to have contemporary relevance in mind. The aim is to be mid-level, less depth than the New International Commentary series (and even a little less than the Pillar New Testament Commentary) but much more expansive than the Tyndale series and most other expositional commentaries. Some of the volumes seem to leave much of the scholarship in footnotes and just give a running exposition. Others are more detailed in exegetical rigor in the main text. All are fairly readable to those without strong seminary training, and some are quite excellent. Most of them spend more time on theology than is common in more detailed series. The series is mostly complete now, with Psalms, Isaiah, Zechariah, I Corinthians, Ephesians, Hebrews, and Revelation left to be published. Here are the volumes that are out:

The commentary on the irresponsible documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus continues after its airing. See here for links to some of the pre-game discussion. Mark Goodacre liveblogged the Discovery Channel special, and Jim West also treats the documentary segment by segment.

Ben Witherington has a nice summary of the problems with it. Andreas Kostenberger has a similar evaluation, including a Q&A format about the documentary based on questions he'd asked ahead of time about what they'd be willing to include that might count against their case. Craig Evans responds , and Bruce Chilton comments here and here. Chris Weimer has a very clear presentation of difficulties in the argument and presentation of issues in the film.

Matt Jones gives a seminary student's perspective on the documentary and the Ted Koppel debate afterward. Other responses to the Koppel aftershow include Mark Goodacre's and Kevin Wilson's.

For more links, see Tyler Williams' roundup.

O. Palmer Robertson's Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah has put together an excellent treatment of these three minor prophets. He defends views typical among conservative evangelicals, placing the books in the 7th century and defending the unity of composition, each by the single author they claim to be about. His treatment of the theology of these books is probably one of the best among contemporary commentaries.

Robertson tends to emphasize New Testament and later Christian interpretations, usually in a way that I find convincing but occasionally going a little beyond the text. Consider the following example. Coming from a Reformed theological tradition, Robertson defends the Reformation interpretation of justification by faith in Habakkuk, something several of the more mainstream commentaries have sought to undermine. He so emphasizes faith (over faithfulness) that I think he underemphasizes the connection between faith and repentance that some other commentaries seemed to me to get more clearly, but I welcome his attempt to see genuine justification by faith in Habakkuk's prophecy. I didn't notice anything particular to covenant theology as opposed to new covenant theology (the differences between Reformed covenant theologians and Reformed Baptists), though his expertise is in covenant theology.

I'm a bit late with this, but Bruce Metzger managed to survive about week after his 93rd birthday last month, right during the time my computer died, so I couldn't put together the kind of post I wanted to. The nice thing is that I could now go back and read what everyone else said before saying anything myself.

Several things stick out to me Dr. Metzger's contribution to biblical studies in general and textual criticism in particular, but it's his effect on the popular level that I'm most grateful for, so I'll say a couple things about that before including some wonderful anecdotes from people's interaction with him. I'm not going to link to all the writeups in the blogosphere since his death. The Princeton Seminary writeup does a good job of capturing some of his achievements, and you can follow the links below from where I took the anecdotes for a number of other writeups and accounts. Instead, I'll mention two things I'm grateful for from his work that have had an impact at the popular level, even if his most important work was fairly technical scholarship in textual criticism.

1. Metzger was one of the Christian scholars interviewed for the fictional interview format of Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. Strobel presents the book as first-person reports of an investigative reporter's interviews with Christian biblical scholars in a way that increases the reporter's confidence about Christian claims. He begins with textual criticism, discussing with Metzger whether we can take the Bible as a reliable source in terms of our current texts reflecting what the original said. It's one of the strongest chapters in the book. After all, Metzger was widely viewed as the most important scholar in the field of New Testament textual criticism. I'm less pleased with some chapters in that book, but several of them are top-notch, and the one based on what Metzger has to say is perhaps the most careful of them all.

2. It was almost entirely due to Metzger's insistence that the NRSV committee refrained from using gender-inclusive language for God. The NRSV is the most academically respected translation and is usually the translation of choice for most university courses on the Bible. I very much doubt it would have the same credibility if Metzger hadn't won over the translation committee to an understanding of why their original intention would have been such a bad idea. I think there is room for good translations that use different policies on gender-neutral language when referring to humans. I don't think the same is true for language about God.

Also, some excellent anecdotes have come up in bloggers' tributes. Several have stuck out to me as indicative of Metzger's personality and temperament.



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