Commentaries: September 2006 Archives

Hosea Commentaries

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This is part of a larger project reviewing commentaries on each book of the Bible. Follow the links from that post for more information on the series, including explanations of what I mean by some of the terms and abbreviations in this post.

Duane Garrett's NAC is usually the first place I loook on Hosea. It's toward the more in-depth end of the mid-level commentaries, a little more in-depth than most volumes in the series. It's the most recent of the evangelical works on this book, and I find his judgments to be sane and reasoned yet without dogmatism when the issues are less clear. Garrett has also done Song of Songs for WBC and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (all in another volume), and Joel (in this volume) for NAC. His Rethinking Genesis is one of the more reasonable defenses of conservative views on the authorship of Genesis (and the Pentateuch in general). It's not surprising, then, that he is a conservative evangelical. His strengths include philology and a good sense of the literary features of the book, and he offers lots of detailed excurses on exploring some particular issues in more depth.

Douglas Stuart's WBC is the classic evangelical treatment. It's getting pretty dated now, but Stuart is revising it for publication next year (according to Thomas Nelson). Several reviewers I've read have said they Stuart is their favorite on Hosea. His work on Hosea and Jonah in this volume generally get placed as the best of the commentaries on the five books it treats (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah). He is especially strong on theology but handles other matters judiciously also. One key strength is his tying the prophetic oracles back to covenant blessings and curses in the Torah, with his conception of prophets as enforcers of the covenant. One reviewer wishes Stuart spent more time explaining alternative views and thinks he's a little too willing to emend the MT. Stuart has also written the NAC on Exodus, the Preacher's Commentary (formerly Communicator's Commentary) on Ezekiel, and a commentary on Malachi in the same series as McComiskey's Hosea (see below). He is currently working on a second WBC volume to replace the current one on Micah-Malachi. Stuart is also a conservative evangelical. I don't like the format of this series, but I do think it's easier to read than McComiskey below, and Stuart is usually a clear writer. I look forward to the revised edition, which may well replace Garrett as my first choice on this book. [add link to Thomas Nelson site]

Drunk Brainstorming

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Since I don't really have the time today (or the ability to focus) for putting a post together out of any of the several things I want to blog about, I'll just share an interesting piece of information I picked up from Karen Jobes's Esther commentary.

Apparently the Persian emperors had a special method of coming up with ideas for imperial policies. They would gather together their closest advisors, all get drunk, and then start tossing out ideas. If they still agreed with the policies after they'd sobered up, they would implement them. This isn't just the way some of their policies came about. According to Jobes, this was their usual method of figuring out how to deal with difficult policy decisions. This isn't unheard of in our day, either. I know several philosophers who come up with their best stuff when drunk. Since they have to wait until they're sober to write it up, I'm sure that allows some good quality control.

Of course, there's also the following corollary. If you have any ideas while you're sober, you should wait until you see what you think about them when you're drunk before implementing them.

This post is part of a larger project reviewing commentaries on each book of the Bible. Follow the links from that post for more information on the series, including explanations of what I mean by some of the terms and abbreviations in this post.

D.A. Carson's PNTC is easily my favorite commentary on John. I consider Carson to be one of the most balanced theological interpreters of scripture. Those more skeptical might just think that's because I tend to agree with him, but I think it's because we've independently arrived at similar enough views that I happen to think he's just gotten it right much of the time. This is clearly a favorite among most evangelicals. Carson operates at an academically sophisticated enough level that serious research ought to interact with him far more than actually happens. He defends traditional Johannine authorship as the most likely explanation of the data we have without insisting on it as a point of orthodoxy. His theological perspective is mainstream evangelical and broadly Reformed.

Herman Ridderbos' mostly theological commentary (English translation 1997) is very widely appreciated across the theological spectrum despite its distinctively conservative conclusions. It's a little light on what's usually called introductory matters (i.e. date, authorship, and other issues usually covered in the introduction), but that's because its focus is on the theological meaning of the text. At this task, Ridderbos excels. On some issues, Ridderbos' moderately conservative views come through, but it's not usually front and center. The original commentary was published in two volumes, one in the late 80s and the other in the early 90s. Like other commentaries translated into English, the date might fool you into thinking it interacts with scholarship later than what the author actually had access to. His first volume was prior to Carson's, and his second was shortly after Carson's.

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