Vol. 2 - No. 7

July, 1983

Book Review

by Byron Gage


I suppose that there is no end to the number of commentaries on the Book of books, and several have crossed my desk of late. I will endeavor to simply list them, describe them, and let the reader know of their availability. The reasons for such an approach are obvious when dealing with commentaries. One may find great value personally in a commentary which has no ap­peal to others. False doctrine (if a commentary should have some) needs to be personally confronted in order to strengthen the individual. And, I have no commentary in my library that is useless, all having some valuable aspects and thoughts.

The New International Greek Testa­ment Commentary series, edited by W. Ward Gasque and I. Howard Marshall, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, looks very interesting. I have received Galatians, by F. F. Bruce, 1982, and James, by Peter Davids, 1982, and both look to be valuable to those interested in studying the Greek texts of these N. T. books. F. F. Bruce is extremely well known as a Greek scholar and his work is very thorough. Highly footnoted with a lengthy bibliography, this book will make a fine reference book for the more serious student. The format is virtually the same for the commentary on James by Davids and I will be looking for more in the series. A word of warning to those who want a simple commentary of homi­letical orientation: These are not for you. But if you are willing to work, are not only interested but also dedicated to learning more of the original language in actual Biblical use, and need a critical commentary these look good.

Another series, this one published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, is the Bible Study Commentary. These are relatively small, paperback books and are very practical for the home bookshelf. They are simply, a Bible study helper and look great for personal study. They are not technical nor critical but offer some good, practical comments on the books covered. I have received Ruth and Judges, by Paul P. Ennis, 1982, and Jonah, by John Walton, 1982. These commentaries are readable enough and small enough to make great introductory reading before beginning a class, whether as teacher or pupil. A thorough overview of the book would thereby be obtained. These are written in a simple enough style that teenagers would have no trouble at all studying them.

The Everyman's Bible Commentary, Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois, is very similar to the commentaries mentioned above. Small, paperback, and easily read, these books would likewise make home Bible study a little more productive. I & II Chronicles, by John Sailhamer, 1983, and Exo­dus, by Ronald F. Youngblood, 1983, are the two I have seen. They look good and I look forward to using them often.

There are currently six volumes available of the Nicot- The New International Com­mentary of the Old Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have Ezra and Nehemiah (one volume), by F. Charles Fensham, 1982. Hardback, rather technical, and extremely thorough, it is another commentary that I value highly. Covering one of the most inspira­tional periods of Hebrew history, it appears to be interesting and informative.

About Commentaries

Brethren are mixed in feelings concerning the use of commentaries. Our practices range from no commentaries at all to utter dependency upon them. Kept in proper perspective, the comments of other men of varying backgrounds and education provide a wealth of informa­tion and understanding, not only of Biblical texts but how men respond to the Bible. Understanding the fallibility of men, the possibility yea, the pro­pensity for doctrinal prejudice, and our sus­ceptibility to rhetoric, it behooves us to take special care when using commentaries of men, be they sectarian or brethren. Weigh all carefully in the light of God's infallible Word, make your own decisions, and thereby establish your own faith. We stand or fall by virtue of our own personal faith which stands in God and not in men. Use the commentaries by all means, but only as they clari­fy and illustrate Scriptural truths are they worthwhile.