Question and Answer with Brad E. Kelle on Ezekiel

Learn more about Ezekiel in the New Beacon Bible Commentary Series

Ezekiel Bible commentary

Brad E. Kelle (Phd, Emory University) is the Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Point Loma Nazarene Univerisity. Dr. Kelle has served as the chair of the SBL’s Warfare in Ancient Israel Consultation (2004-06) and Section (2007-12) at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. He is also the past president and current member at large (executive board) of the Society of Biblical Literature Pacific Coast Region.

Dr. Kelle is the Old Testament editor for Currents in Biblical Research and has written or edited a variety of works on the Old Testament and ancient Israel. His research and writing focus on Old Testament prophetic books and ancient Israelite and Judean history.

Dr. Kelle is also an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene and spent eight years as an associate pastor, for youth and worship, at a Church of the Nazarene in the Atlanta area.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Ezekiel?

I began to have a special interest in the Old Testament prophets during the time of my Ph.D. studies. Prior to this project, however, most of my attention had been on the so-called Minor Prophets (my first book was Hosea 2: Metaphor and Rhetoric in Historical Perspective, 2005. As this interest continued to develop over the years, I found myself also working on issues related to warfare in ancient Israel and the Old Testament (see my Ancient Israel at War 853-586 B.C., 2007. These issues included the significance of trauma within warfare and the use of insights from trauma theory for reading war-related biblical texts. The invitation from the series editors to write a new theological commentary on Ezekiel provided an exciting opportunity to see these areas of interest come together. Indeed, several previous works had used trauma as a lens for engaging Ezekiel but few, if any, full length-commentaries had attempted a sustained reading of the book as a whole from this perspective. I felt sure that these insights would provide new ways to understand the difficult parts of Ezekiel (especially some of the problematic violent depictions), as well as the overall theology at work in the book.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

I wrote the commentary specifically for the benefit of pastors, ministers, and students who seek a theological engagement with Ezekiel that also takes account of the book’s historical context and literary dimensions. The intended audience is especially those from the Wesleyan theological tradition, and the commentary seeks to engage Wesleyan theology at various points. But I have also attended to mainline critical biblical scholarship in such a way that I hope the book is useful to students and scholars from a wide variety of perspectives. I have tried to write in such a way that it will be accessible to Christian lay readers and others just beginning with critical biblical studies.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Ezekiel?

My commentary has two unique elements. First is the attempt to engage the book of Ezekiel with particular attention to dialogue with elements of Wesleyan theology. For Ezekiel, the richest point of contact proved to be the Wesleyan emphasis on holiness (of God and God’s people), since this is also a key element within the book’s theology. The second unique element is the sustained use of trauma study as a lens for understanding Ezekiel. I employ insights from trauma theory first as a means of understanding the experiences of Ezekiel and his audience in the destruction of Jerusalem and subsequent exile, as well as how those experiences explain some of what we see in the book. I also use trauma study as a lens for understanding how the book’s theology works, especially how Ezekiel uses the understanding of holiness in the Old Testament priestly tradition as a means to articulate the meaning of destruction and exile and the possible future for God’s people.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Within my discussion of the historical background of Ezekiel, the section discussing the events and experiences of the exile (and accompanying Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem) was memorable because of the insights provided by trauma study. A trend within modern scholarship had largely relegated the exile to a historical-political event and emphasized that the experience was not that bad for those involved (i.e., the exiles were not enslaved, tortured, etc.). Insights from trauma theory suggest, however, that interpreters have overlooked the traumatic nature of these events, especially the ways that they were physically, emotionally, psychologically, and even spirituality destabilizing for the prophet and his community. When we begin to explore the nature of traumatic experiences and the effects on those who suffer them, we can gain a clearer picture of why Ezekiel says and does certain things reported in the book and what theological aims were at work in the messages.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

As I entered the world of Ezekiel and imagined myself journeying into exile with the prophet and wrestling with questions of how to understand these events and what they mean for God and God’s people, I realized the continued relevance of theology in the midst of crisis. Ezekiel offers God’s people today resources for thinking theologically about who God is and who God’s people are in the midst of crises like destruction and exile. How does one experience and even proclaim the holiness of God in the midst of events that seem to dismantle all to which we have clung for our sense of identity and life?

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Ezekiel?

There are numerous, full-length, comprehensive, critical commentaries on Ezekiel that are useful for detailed study. For two works that offer a theological engagement with Ezekiel through dialogue with insights from trauma theory and in ways that are accessible to Christian audiences of pastors, ministers, and students, I recommend the following:

Nancy R. Bowen, Ezekiel (Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries; Nashville: Abingdon, 2010).

Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, A Biblical Theology of Exile (Overtures to Biblical Theology; Augsburg: Fortress, 2002).

I also recommend an older but classic theological treatment that places Ezekiel alongside Isaiah 40—55 and Jeremiah, examining each one’s theological responses to the experiences of and issues raised by the destruction of Jerusalem and Babylonian exile: Walter Brueggemann, Hopeful Imagination: Prophetic Voices in Exile (Ausgburg: Fortress, 1986).

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

My most recent book came out in the fall of 2017: Brad E. Kelle, Telling the Old Testament Story: God’s Mission and God’s People (Nashville: Abingdon, 2017). The book provides an overall reading of the Old Testament (in the Protestant canon) as a whole from the perspective of missional interpretation. It is a companion to a more traditional introduction to the Old Testament textbook and reads the Old Testament as the story of God’s mission to restore creation to the right-relationships for which it was intended and the calling of God’s people to participate as the instrument within that divine redemptive mission.

I am currently writing two books. The first deals with the field of moral injury (related to the study of trauma within warfare) and the reading of biblical texts: The Bible and Moral Injury: Reading Scripture alongside War’s Unseen Wounds (Abingdon Press). The second is a full-length commentary on Hosea to be a part of the Old Testament Library series: Hosea: A Commentary (Westminster John Knox).


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Question and Answer with Michael Shepherd on The Minor Prophets

Learn more about The Book of the Twelve in the Kregel Exegetical Library Series

bible commentary minor prophetsMichael Shepherd (Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Cedarville University.

Dr. Shepherd previously taught Old Testament and Hebrew at Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana, for nine years (2006-2015). He has published seven academic monographs and more than a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles, essays, and book chapters in his field. He is currently working on a commentary on the book of Jeremiah for the Kregel Exegetical Library series.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on the Minor Prophets?

My interest in the composition of the Book of the Twelve began about fifteen years ago. I published the earliest expression of my understanding of this composition in a 2008 ZAW article entitled, “Compositional Analysis of the Twelve.” This led to my 2011 book, The Twelve Prophets in the New Testament (Peter Lang), in which I tried to articulate the way in which reading in the context of the Twelve as a whole influenced the manner of citation from the Twelve in the NT documents. More recently, I contributed an essay entitled, “The New Exodus in the Composition of the Twelve,” to a Festschrift in honor of John Sailhamer (Text and Canon: Essays in Honor of John H. Sailhamer [Pickwick]).

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The intended audience is anyone who is interested in studying the Book of the Twelve seriously and for its own sake. It is designed to make an original contribution to scholarship, but I believe that it is also accessible to pastors and students who have invested in exegesis in the original languages. There is also something for the local church member who does not mind putting in the hard work that the Scriptures require. The commentary is formatted to be read linearly, so there is no confusion about where to find what within multiple sections on the same passage.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of the Minor Prophets?

This is the first ever single-volume commentary on the Book of the Twelve that argues for a single compositional stratum produced by a single prophetic composer/author. Much work has been done in journal articles and scholarly monographs over the last thirty years that has taken into account the transmission of the Twelve in antiquity as a single work as well as the internal clues to the composition of this work, but this has not found its way into many of the commentaries, in part because these commentaries are generally on sections of the Twelve rather than the whole. This commentary will enable readers to see how the final composer has brought the parts together to function with ongoing relevance as a unified, messianic, and eschatological document.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

The most memorable part of this project will always be the compositional seams that tie together the individual books of the Twelve. The commentary follows three criteria for identification of this compositional activity: (1) distinctive material at the end of one book that connects to similarly distinctive material at the beginning of the next; (2) development of the program of the Twelve set forth in Hosea 3:4–5; and (3) citation from the book of Jeremiah. It is this seam work that provides a superstructure within which to read lower levels of the text.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

I agree with Psalm 1 that the blessed person is the one who “murmurs” (i.e., reads aloud quietly to oneself) in the text of Scripture at all times (Ps. 1:2). In my opinion, the oldest and best way to communicate exegesis of Scripture in its original languages and on its own terms is the translation and commentary format. It allows the Scripture to dictate the agenda. The exegetical process has allowed me to enter a textual world that has a grand vision of Christ and his kingdom, and I will continue to live in that world.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on the Minor Prophets?

James Nogalski’s many publications on the Twelve have been helpful to me from the very beginning. I would also like to recommend Rolf Rendtorff’s The Canonical Hebrew Bible: A Theology of the Old Testament (Deo), Christopher Seitz’s Prophecy and Hermeneutics: Toward a New Introduction to the Prophets (Baker), and O. H. Steck’s The Prophetic Books and Their Theological Witness (Chalice).

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I have recently agreed to do the Jeremiah volume in the KEL series, so I will be working on that for the next few years. I am very grateful to the folks at Kregel. I have nothing but good things to say about them.


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Question and Answer with Stephen Dempster on Micah

Learn more about Micah in the Two Horizons Commentary Series

two horizons commentary micah

Stephen Dempster (Phd. Univeristy of Toronto) is the Professor of Religious Studies at Crandall University. He has taught numerous courses on Old Testament books and biblical theology, include the Book of Micah. Dr. Dempster’s professional appointments include serving as the Chair of the Biblical Theology Section for Evangelical Theological Society 2011 to 2016 as well as serving on the Editorial Board for Zondervan’s Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament series from 2010 to 2017.

Dr. Dempster wrote Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series (IVP Academic), which D.A. Carson described as, “fresh, provocative, helpful–and doubtless will prove to be the stuff of many sermons and lectures.”

His other writing contributions include: “The Canon of Scripture,” in A Manifesto of Theological Interpretation, ed. in C. Bartholomew and H. Thomas, (Baker, 2016), 131-148; “The Old Testament Canon, Josephus and Cognitive Environment,” in The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, ed. D. A. Carson, (Zondervan, 2016), 321-361; “A Wandering Moabite: Ruth—A Book in Search of a Canonical Home,” in The Shape of the Ketuvim: History, Contoured Intertextuality, and Canon, ed. J. Steinberg and Tim Stone (Eisenbrauns, 2016 ), 87-118; and “From Slight Peg to Corner Stone to Capstone: The Resurrection of Christ on the Third Day According to the Scriptures,” Westminster Theological Journal 76 (2014): 371-410.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Micah?

I have been a Professor of Religious Studies for 3 decades at Crandall University, mainly teaching undergraduates. I have long been interested in Hebrew linguistic structure and exegesis and received training at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and the University of Toronto. Major academic mentors were Raymond Dillard, Palmer Robertson, John Revell, Paul Dion and John Wevers. Major spiritual mentors were my parents, the Reverend Sam Dempster and Mary Dempster. They taught me the old, old story at a young age and led me to faith. Another major mentor has been my wife Judy, who often reminds me of Lady Wisdom in Proverbs with her gracious and timely advice and practical down-to-earthness. And what can I say about our children (Jessica, Joanna, Nathan, Michael, Holly and Tori) who have blessed me and taught me so many life lessons! Not to mention countless students whom I have had the privilege of teaching and from whom I have learned so much, and faculty members with whom I have interacted and taught over the years.

I have also seen the importance of studying the Scriptures as canon and not just as a historical artifact. Brevard Childs has been an important influence on me in this regard. In fact Rolf Rendtorff begins his Magnum Opus on Old Testament Theology straight to the point: The Old Testament is a theological book! If this is the case, then it behooves interpreters to apply the text to their lives. Thus I am convinced that the Scriptures need to be applied to the church and the culture at large. Micah with his stress on justice cries out for application!

And what can I say about the most important influence? My raison d’être—the Lord Himself, who created me before I was born in my mother’s womb, and who has given me health and breath, and saved me to become his servant, and to walk in his hesed with Him, and to teach theology which is really about coming to understand one’s place in the world before Him. Jean Calvin once said that in the end theology teaches us that we all have to do with God. And Paul spoke about God revealed in Christ as a vast ocean of wisdom, knowledge and grace that we can swim in forever! And that all of us live and move and have our being in Him. O come let us adore Him!

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

It is intended for the church but I think it would most benefit pastors, students and lay Christians. Professors might be stimulated by it but its goal is to connect what communicators describe as the two horizons: the context then in Micah’s time and our context now.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Micah?

I think part of what makes the commentary unique is that it has a smaller introduction than a lot of commentaries, and in the exegetical section there is an attempt not only to deal with the text in its historical context, but in its wider biblical context, even taking into account the New Testament. Moreover, the last ¼ of the commentary is devoted to exploring themes of Micah in the context of the Bible. Thus there are themes on justice, the land, true and false prophecy, and Micah’s doctrine of God. At the end of the book there is a section on Micah and modern ministry and some of the themes which might be helpful for modern communicators of the word: cheap grace, the relationship between idolatry-covetousness and injustice, etc.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

There were a number. I was blown away by the transcendent image of God at the beginning of Micah when all of created reality melts before him as he makes his entrance into the created order; and also at the end of the book when his transcendence is not understood as omnipotence and holiness but mercy and grace, or perhaps even better, when omnipotence and holiness are used at the service of mercy and grace.There is also a close relationship between the temple at the end of history where the nations ascend and are taught by Yahweh and from that teaching turn their instruments of destruction (sword and spear) into instruments of construction (shovels and rakes). The call goes out to Israel as they worship to not be concerned about one off performances of outlandish sacrifices but to hear Yahweh’s word to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. When the nations see Yahweh’s word embodied in His people, they will respond likewise! This sounds very much like Jesus saying to the church: In this way all will see that you are my disciples, by your love for one another!

When thinking about the power of forgiveness and the potential of it to not only change lives but to change history I was struck by the example of Adolf Hitler, who, because he did not experience forgiveness, became more and more bitter and ended up becoming the person that was responsible for so much carnage. If he had experienced forgiveness, history would have been very different.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

The realization that God has done so much for me as Creator and Redeemer and calls me to a relationship with Him (literally walk with Him), where he wants His values and character to rub off on me. Not only that I would seek justice but I would rather also love mercy. In fact it was this Hebrew word hesed which had such an impact on me. It’s a word that cannot be really translated. We use the word mercy or fidelity or covenant love or loyalty for understanding it in English. But it is all these things and more. But its essence is this. It is when a person with power sees a powerless person and responds with help when called upon. It often occurs in the context of the covenant, but it need not. Help is needed and the response of the person who can help is help! This is a quality that supremely describes Yahweh. He is a God of Hesed. In the great Israelite credo which describes the attributes of Yahweh, Exodus 34:6-7, it is the only characteristic that appears twice. And it is an incredible fact that not only does hesed characterize Yahweh, he loves doing hesed! In fact as I write in my commentary on Micah 7:18-20: “It is not just that God practises hesed or shows it, but that he delights in it. It is what gets him excited! Calvin aptly remarks, ‘for the only prop or support that can raise us up to God, when we desire to be reconciled to him is this, –that he loves mercy.’” And the ultimate expression of hesed is the Cross!

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Micah?

There are many number of commentaries. May I single out a few. Bruce Waltke’s is excellent for studying the text of Micah and the various versions, the LXX, the Vulgate etc. He is a very astute exegete as well with a clear interest in applying the text. Two German commentaries were very helpful with theology and exegesis, Wilhelm Rudolph and Hans Walter Wolff. Rudolph’s has not been translated but Wolff’s has. An extremely insightful francophone commentator is Bernard Renaud. His commentary contains a wealth of interpretive gems. At the same time all three commentators would argue that most of the book of Micah comes from a time later than Micah. A very practical, popular commentary for lay people is that by Ralph Davis. But two more comprehensive works have also been very helpful: Abraham Heschel’s The Prophets and Gerhard Von Rad’s Old Testament Theology: Vol 2. Both scholars have a deep appreciation for the driving force of the Prophets, the Word of God.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I am currently working on a number of projects: 1) a commentary on Genesis using Hebrew discourse structure as a guide to exegesis 2) a monograph on Kingship and Kingdom in the Bible 3) a biblical theological commentary on Jeremiah and Lamentations 4) numerous essays.

I don’t know how people can follow my work and ministry other than read my few books (Dominion and Dynasty, and Micah: A Theological Commentary) and essays which are published in various journals and collections of essays. I teach at Crandall University, with two colleagues in my department, who are real heavyweights in the field of scholarship: John Stackhouse and Keith Bodner. I also have been blessed to teach in an adjunct role at Westminster Theological Centre in the United Kingdom under the expert leadership of theologian Lucy Peppiatt and Old Testament scholar Matt Lynch, and also in an adjunct role at Toronto Baptist Seminary under the competent guidance of Principal Kirk Wellum.


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Question and Answer with Duane Watson on 1 and 2 Peter

Learn more about 1 and 2 Peter in the Paideia Bible Commentary series

paideia bible commentary peterDuane F. Watson (Phd. Duke University, M.Div. Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Professor of New Testament Studies at Malone University where he has taught since 1989. Other than authoring 1 and 2 Peter in the Paideia commentary series, Dr. Watson recent writing projects include serving as the Editor of Miracle Discourse in the New Testament. Society of Biblical Literature, 2012; Editor (with Robert L. Webb) of Reading Second Peter Through New Eyes: Methodological Reassessments of the Letter of Second Peter. Library of New Testament Studies, T. & T. Clark, 2010; and Editor (with Alan J. Hauser) of The History of Biblical Interpretation,Volume II: The Medieval through the Reformation Periods. Eerdmans, 2009. He has also been published in numerous journals, dictionaries, and encyclopedias.

Dr. Watson is also the Owner and Operator of Docs Crocks, an antique business specializing in 18th, 19th, and early 20th century American Stoneware. The largest company of its kind in America.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 1 and 2 Peter?

I was approached by the editors of Baker Book House to write this commentary on 1 Peter based on my previous work on 2 Peter. That included my dissertation from Duke University published as Invention, Arrangement, and Style: Rhetorical Criticism of Jude and 2 Peter (Scholars Press, 1988) and commentaries on Jude and 2 Peter in The New Interpreter’s Bible (Abingdon Press, 1998).

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The Paideia series is intended to be a mid-range commentary that is accessible to all these groups. The series strives to be clearly written, avoid jargon, summarize debated passages and issues accurately and simply and provide more detailed background information in separate boxes.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 1 and 2 Peter?

The main contribution of this commentary is to bring the vast new literature on this book into a readable form.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I Peter 3:18-22 is the most challenging in this book. The background of this passage is in Jewish tradition and literature and is difficult to explain to the average reader. Here we find angels who created a race of giant children with humans; children who subsequently corrupted humanity and necessitated the Flood (Genesis 6:1-4). These angels were punished by God by being placed in a prison at the far reaches of creation to await their judgment at the final consummation of all things. On his way to heaven after the resurrection, Jesus proclaimed to the angels his victory over sin and their final judgment. Pretty interesting background!

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

While it was not a focus of this series, I was most edified by trying to write the theological issues section. I was raised in the holiness movement and look for how I can apply what the text says to daily life. As I have grown older, I have tried to refine this practical approach by not being too specific as to how a text can be applied and rather open up the possibilities to people to pursue their own paths. To me, theology without application is not very useful. As Professor Daniel Migliore said in one of my classes at Princeton Theology Seminary a long time ago, theology that does not help people where they live is not good theology.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 1 and 2 Peter?

If I had to recommend one commentary on 1 Peter, it would be that of John H. Elliott in the Anchor Bible Commentary Series (New York: Doubleday, 2000). It is encyclopedic and creatively pushes the boundaries of our understanding of 1 Peter. Even if you don’t agree with all of his conclusions, you greatly benefit by his encyclopedic discussion of all the issues.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

My current project is a commentary on the Johannine Epistles for the New Cambridge Bible Commentary. This commentary will be finished this summer and hopefully will be available next year. The approach in this commentary is a verse by verse exposition of the text with emphasis upon the rhetoric of the text and how the author of these letters is working hard to persuade his audience not to follow his opposition that was teaching that Jesus was not the Christ.


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Question and Answer with Michael Barrett on Hosea

Learn more about Hosea in the Gospel According to the Old Testament commentary series

hosea commentaryDr. Michael Bar­rett is Vice President for Academic Affairs/Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is a min­is­ter in the Heritage Reformed Congregations. For­merly, Dr. Bar­rett served as pres­i­dent of Geneva Reformed Sem­i­nary. He earned his doc­tor­ate in Old Tes­ta­ment Text with a spe­cial focus on Semitic lan­guages.

His dis­ser­ta­tion was titled “A Method­ol­ogy for Inves­ti­gat­ing the Trans­la­tion Philoso­phies and Tech­niques of the Sep­tu­agint.” For almost thirty years, he was pro­fes­sor of Ancient Lan­guages and Old Tes­ta­ment The­ol­ogy and Inter­pre­ta­tion at Bob Jones Uni­ver­sity. Dr. Bar­rett had an active role in the min­istry of the Free Pres­by­ter­ian Church until his coming to PRTS. He is a mem­ber of the Evan­gel­i­cal The­o­log­i­cal Soci­ety and has pub­lished numer­ous arti­cles in both pro­fes­sional and pop­u­lar jour­nals. He contributed to and served as Old Testament editor for The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Hosea?

I have taught the Minor Prophets, both in Hebrew and English, for many years on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The target audience is primarily lay Christians although pastors and students could benefit as well. My intention is to bridge the gap between the ancient text and setting and the current needs of today. The message of Hosea is old but not outdated.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Hosea?

This is not a verse by verse or even chapter by chapter commentary on the text. Rather, it develops the major themes and arguments of the book from a Biblical theological perspective. It is possible to get the major thrust of the message without necessarily dealing with all the interpretational issues or problems–those things that would tend to distract the layman who has no interest or knowledge of the technicalities.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I suppose the biggest challenge was defining the nature and timing of God’s instruction to Hosea to marry Gomer. It is one of the difficulties in the book, yet one that is so integral to overall message.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

To realize that Hosea’s love for Gomer was unrelenting and undeserved and from a human perspective made little sense, and then to see how that is magnified and intensified when considering Christ’s love for His bride. Humanly speaking it makes no sense, but it is all of grace.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Hosea?

I think the 3 volume set on the Minor Prophets edited by Thomas McComiskey (Baker) is one of the best. McComiskey himself did the work on Hosea.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

My next projects are biblical theological treatments of Exodus and Ecclesiastes. I don’t do social media, but can follow me some on the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary website as well has hearing some of my sermons on Sermonaudio.com.


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Question and Answer with Richard Pratt on 1 and 2 Chronicles

Learn more about 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Mentor Bible Commentary Series

chronicles bible commentaryRichard Pratt (Th.D. in Old Testament Studies from Harvard University) is a theologian, author, and founder and President of Third Millennium Ministries. Dr. Pratt taught at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS, and Orlando, FL, for 21 years. He also chaired the Old Testament Department in Orlando and is currently Adjunct Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary.

Pratt is actively involved in all aspects of ministry, including writing, teaching, and global advancement. He has traveled extensively throughout the world to evangelize and lecture, including Australia, China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico, Mongolia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine, Cuba, the United Kingdom and throughout the United States. He is best known for his approach to Biblical hermeneutics, which places a heavy emphasis on the Kingdom of God.

Third Millennium was launched in response to the lack of training of Christian leaders around the world. Third Millennium recognizes where the church is growing the fastest, those Christian leaders have the least amount of training. Pratt personally witnessed this in the 1980s as he traveled for missions. Helping the church worldwide has become his passion. He believes that any person that has the desire to learn more about the Bible should be given that opportunity in their own land, in their own language, and at no cost.

His books include: He Gave Us Stories: The Bible Student’s Guide To Interpreting Old Testament Narratives; Holy Bible: New Living Translation; Designed For Dignity: What God Has Made It Possible For You To Be; and the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (general editor).

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 1 and 2 Chronicles?

I wrote my dissertation on the prayers of kings in the book of Chronicles. I also wrote the study notes on Chronicles in The Reformation Study Bible. These efforts prepared me for writing this commentary.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

This commentary is intended for church leaders and highly motivated laypeople.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 1 and 2 Chronicles?

This commentary focuses on the major theological themes of the book and how they are communicated in each portion of the book.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I found David’s final preparations for the temple (1 Christ 29), God’s response to Solomon’s prayer (2 Chr 7) and Hezekiah’s Passover celebration (2 Chr 30) were eye opening. These passages are easily applied to Christians today.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

As one of the last Old Testament books to be written, Chronicles is a prelude to the Christian faith. The Chronilcler’s hopes are fulfilled by Christ. His themes readily apply to the Christian life.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 1 and 2 Chronicles?

Roddy Braun 1 Chronicles (WBC)

Raymond Dillard 2 Chronicles (WBC)

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I devote myself primarily to writing theological lessons that are published by Third Millennium Ministries (thirdmill.org).


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Question and Answer with Richard Coekin on the Book of Ephesians

Learn more about Ephesians in the For You Commentary Series

Coekin ephesians commentary

Richard Coekin is a renowned Bible teacher and has been involved in launching numerous churches and other ministries, such as the London Mens’ and Womens’ Conventions, the 9:38 Ministry Training Strategy, the Passion for Life mission, and most recently The Planting Collective. He is also involved in a Bible ministry to Members of Parliament in Westminster.

Richard is the author of several books including Our Father and Gospel DNA.

After studying law at Cambridge, and practicing for four years as a commercial lawyer in London, Richard studied theology at Moore College Sydney and Oxford University. After a training role in Manchester, he moved to become the first senior pastor of Dundonald church in 1995, a congregation of 35 adults that was planted into a school hall.

By God’s grace, God has grown Dundonald church steadily over many years to become a church of 600 adults and 300 children which has planted 9 churches locally and from which the Co-Mission Church Planting Initiative was launched in 2005.

Richard is married to Sian and they have five children.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Ephesians?

I’ve preached through Ephesians three times for our church over the years to the church that I serve consulting helpful commentaries and in particular Peter O’Brien in the Pillar series.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

Pastors, small group leaders and thoughtful church members.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Ephesians?

I hope that there is nothing novel about the doctrines espoused but since this is a pastoral reflection on the practical implications of this great epistle in the life of a local church I pray that “the manifold wisdom of God will be made known to the rulers and authorities int he heavenly realms” as churches unite in proclaiming reconciliation in Christ to all nations.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Ephesians 6: 10-18 concerning the armour of God because this is the climax and not a digression from the major themes of the letter.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

So many things -perhaps supremely the privileges in Christ displayed in Paul’s introduction of being chosen by the father, redeemed by the son and sealed with the holy spirit….to the praise of his glory.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Ephesians?

Peter O’Brien

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

Jonah – the reluctant evangelist – I’ve just finished a draft. It will be available through the Co-Mission website.


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Question and Answer with Andrew M. Davis on the Book of Isaiah

Learn more about Isaiah in the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary

Andrew Davis Isaiah commentary

Dr. Andrew Davis (Ph.D. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY) is senior pastor of First Baptist Durham, NC, where he has served since 1998. In 2005 he joined Southeastern Seminary as Visiting Professor of Historical Theology. He presently serves on the board of The Gospel Coalition. He is the author of An Infinite Journey and An Approach to the Extended Memorization of Scripture. He and his wife Christi reside in Bahama, NC, and have five children.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Isaiah?

I memorized the Book of Isaiah several decades ago, and was astonished at the scope and grandeur of the book—its vision of the greatness and sovereignty of God, the depths of human depravity, the clarity with which it predicted the sufferings of Christ and his subsequent glories. I was in awe of this book, and when Danny Akin and David Platt gave me the opportunity to write a commentary for their series Christ-Centered Exposition on Isaiah, I jumped at it! I especially thought that there is no book in the Old Testament with such clear predictions of Christ and such clear gospel themes as Isaiah.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

I was thinking first and foremost about pastors, desiring to be a resource to them to enable them to preach verse by verse through the entire Book of Isaiah. Then, through them, I was thinking about all Christians who would listen to Christ-centered expository sermons, as well as read my own as recorded in this book. Ultimately, my eye was on all Christians, because “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17) So I want the word of God to feed the faith of everyone who reads this commentary.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Isaiah?

I would not presume to think that my commentary is unique compared to all other commentaries on Isaiah. I would say that the concept of the entire series—Christ-Centered Exposition—is most meaningful in an Old Testament prophetical book like Isaiah, because the proclamation of Christ from texts that were written seven centuries before Christ was born shows the supernatural essence of the Christian faith, and many 21st century Christians are not as equipped to make this proclamation to our lost world as they could be.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I loved unfolding Isaiah 53 especially, because of its powerfully clear display of substitutionary atonement, the center of the gospel. I also enjoyed the soaring display of God’s majesty in Isaiah 40, and the amazing prediction of the spread of the gospel to the distant shores in many places in Isaiah.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Christ speaking to us in his own voice through Isaiah 61, as he displayed when he read that scroll in Luke 4, was overwhelmingly powerful for me, as was the next chapter—Isaiah 62—in which Christ speaks of his zeal for the final perfection of his bride, the church (Zion): He will not be silent until Zion shines radiantly as the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21-22).

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Isaiah?

I truly benefited from many commentaries on Isaiah, especially E.J. Young’s three-volume work, as well as Alec Motyer’s works.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I am finishing my editing of a book on Christian contentment based on Jeremiah Burroughs’s timeless classic, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. It will be published by Baker Books next year. You can follow my preaching/teaching ministry through twojourneys.org.


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Question and Answer with Bryan D Estelle on his book Echoes of Exodus

Learn more about the Exodus in the Old and New Testament

Bryan Estelle exodusBryan D. Estelle (PhD, Catholic University of America) is professor of Old Testament at Westminster Seminary California where he has taught since 2000. He is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Prior to taking his position at WSC, he was a pastor in an Orthodox Presbyterian congregation in Maryland and was involved in planting a church in Oregon for the Presbyterian Church in America. He lectured in Hebrew at The Catholic University between 1997 and 2000. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, the National Association of the Professors of Hebrew, and a Fellow of the Institute of Biblical Religion.

Dr. Estelle is the author of Salvation through Judgment and Mercy: The Gospel According to Jonah, and Echoes of Exodus: Tracing a Biblical Motif (link below). He has contributed essays to Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry: Essays by the Faculty of Westminster Seminary California; The Law Is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant (contributor and co-editor); and But Let A Man Examine Himself: Children and the Lord’s Supper. He has also contributed articles and reviews to The Biblical Historian, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, The Confessional Presbyterian, Hebrew Studies, Maarav, Modern Reformation, New Horizons, Ordained Servant, Westminster Theological Journal, and Themelios. He was a contributor to and an Old Testament editor of the Reformation Study Bible. He is also a contributor to the forthcoming Baker Dictionary of Biblical Words.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests helped prepare you to write Echoes of Exodus? How was this particular project born?

This project was born out of necessity. I started to work on an elective class when I first took up my teaching responsibilities at Westminster Seminary in 2000. As I offered the class several times, the project began to grow. I started to notice lots of research that had been done on the topic but no one seemed to have tied it all together. That’s what I wanted to do. I was trained in Semitic languages and literatures, Hebrew and Aramaic especially. But I also had this deep interest in biblical and systematic theology. Well, the project just kept snowballing. Then, Dan Reid at IVP Academic caught wind of it. He was very keen on doing the project. The rest is history.

2. Who is the intended audience for Echoes of Exodus? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

I wrote the book to reach a wide audience, primarily my students, Pastors, and really interested lay people. Although the first chapter and appendix are fairly “heady” and theoretical, the remainder of the book is accessible to a wide audience if they have the motivation. Although biblical languages are referenced, IVP wanted me to transliterate the Hebrew and Greek so it could be made accessible to a wider audience. In other words, although some of my arguments had to appeal to technical questions involving Greek and Hebrew, one who has not been able to study those languages can easily follow my argument and train of thought. I think the book could definitely benefit Pastors who are preaching on Exodus. Moreover, sincethe Exodus is the “grammar of deliverance and salvation” by which the biblical writers often make their claims, it has important material for any serious minded Christian. I hope that my Jewish colleagues can learn from it as well although they will disagree with some of my claims. I did try and make constructive arguments in light of recent trends in methodology in biblical studies (especially intertextual studies and canonical studies). Therefore, I hope that fellow scholars will engage my arguments especially into how “allusion competence” and intertextuality work in any literature, but especially in the Bible.

3. What is unique about Echoes of Exodus? What contribution does it make to biblical studies and/or biblical theology?

First, I think that my book ties together much of the research on individual sections of Scripture that forefront the Exodus, the “new Exodus” as described in Isaiah and other prophets, and demonstrates how those books are integral to the New Testament development of Jesus as the agent of the New Exodus, the one greater than Moses, that executes and outstrips anything Moses ever did, and who brings to fruition the new exodus which embodies his greater work as the Penalty paying substitution for our sins and as the Probation keeping Messiah who fulfills all the first Adam and Israel (as the son of God) fails to accomplish. Where Adam and Israel failed, Christ prevailed.

Second, I think (by God’s grace), I have brought together some of the most recent trends in biblical studies to bear on this very important theme and motif. Without going down the path of a “central dogma”; nevertheless, I have demonstrated that the exodus motif is very central to the biblical story and drama.

Third, I think that my argument supports the claim that a careful and detailed study of the history of salvation will support the historical presentation of the order of salvation. Therefore, biblical theology and systematic theology are not antagonistic. To be perfectly clear, the history of salvation most often supports what Systematics has been saying about the Bible.

4. In your book, you help the reader identify and understand the exodus motif as it’s found throughout the Bible. What is it about the exodus narrative that the biblical authors after Moses found so alluring that they would employ the event in their own message even though they were writing to different audiences, at different times, and even in different literary genres?

Great question! I’m not sure because it is hard to enter into their mindset except through the texts and words that they have left behind for us. First, I think the Psalms and Isaiah (not to mention the other subsequent writers/narrators) think that the Exodus really did happen in space and time. That may not sound so radical or earthshaking if you are not familiar with the scholarship on the Exodus; however, it is! These subsequent authors/narrators in Scripture think that one can bank on these past deliverances because God really did act powerfully to vindicate his people. Moreover, since the narrative of the Exodus really does broker truth, one can hope for the future as well. That is one reason why the Exodus has become such a powerful metaphor in the rhetoric of liberators throughout the centuries.

5. You describe Jesus as “the agent of the eschatological new exodus” (p. 208) and propose that this reality has implications for Christians today (p. 322-326). Can you please suggest an application for Christian living as an example?

This too is also a great question. Forgive me ahead of time for the personal reflection, but the person framing these questions seems to have connected with my deepest intents. Yes, I am convinced from my painstaking research in the Old and New Testaments, that Jesus is the Messiah, the second and greater Moses, who fulfills once and for all the “exodus grammar” describing deliverance from Satan and sin.

My reading of the Exodus is definitely not “political”. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there is such a thing as “political theology.” Just look at the debate between John Collins and Levinson (it can be found in the footnotes). However, to politicize the exodus story is to miss its main point. As much as the Scriptures are concerned about social justice and righteousness (and they are), they are especially concerned to describe the remedy for the greatest cosmic injustice that has ever occurred; namely, the affront to God that sin really is. As one American theologian once said, “Who, at the foot of Calvary, can pronounce sin to be a slight matter?”

Jesus, as the agent of the eschatological new exodus, has made a perfect satisfaction for sin and the problem of estrangement between the Creator and the creature as the human and divine mediator between God and humans.

Moreover, it struck me during my research (and I did not set out to prove this from the beginning) that the debate (often filled with rancor sadly), between those who emphasize union with Christ vis-à-vis the legal or forensic foundations of salvation is really a false dilemma. The two are complementary, not antagonistic.

6. What section or passage of Echoes of Exodus was particularly memorable to research and write? What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Wow, that’s a hard question to answer. I think I learned something new and exciting at every turn and that is why I am so grateful to God to do what I do: applying my skills and training to serve him and his church. It is so fun when you are researching and writing to learn something new, almost every day.

I was involved (as a “Hebraist”) in developing a new Psalter/Hymnal for my church, so this work overlapped for which I am thankful. I was particularly struck by God’s providence working through the Prophet Isaiah to prepare the way (no pun intended) for the New Testament revelation. I did enjoy engaging NT Wright and R. Hays (with whom I disagree at many points but also appreciate their erudition) and feeling as though I had legitimate critiques for them to think about. I especially appreciated learning about what John, who wrote the Apocalypse, meant when he said “The sea was no more.” I look forward to the world-to-come all the more because of that statement and (I think) my deeper understanding of it now.

I REALLY loved seeing Christ in the Gospels fulfilling all that the first Adam failed to do and moreover, what Israel (as the true son of God) also failed to do. In my own denomination, this kind of typology was under attack, I’m so thankful for what the Lord showed me during this time of research and writing. I’m utterly convinced that our Lord fulfilled all that Adam failed to do and also fulfilled all that Israel (as the son of God) failed to do when she recapitulated the story of Adam and Eve in the garden.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

Well, I finished a manuscript on the Psalms of Asaph this last year (Ps. 50 and 73-83). There I deal with the topics of “Sacred Doubt and the ‘Silence’ of God.” The “absence” or alleged “silence” of God is a central concern of many in our culture and in modern times. It is evident in novels, plays and theater, film, and even in dance.

Thankfully, it is also a major concern in the Psalms of Asaph. Similar to my work on Echoes of Exodus, where I did not expect to stumble into certain areas that I did, so also my work on the Psalms of Asaph have lead me down new and surprising paths. That work is currently before a publisher that is demonstrating some enthusiasm about the project.

This last Semester (Spring, 2018), I was granted a Sabbatical to work on a project in the R.E.D.S series, a project by Mentor Press on “Reformed, Exegetical, and Doctrinal Studies” on The Primary Mission of the Church. This is a doctrine (essentially, “the Spirituality of the Church”) which is of utmost importance to the health of the church in my view, even though in certain times in the past it has been subject to abuse. I’m hoping (God willing) to complete this project this August (or September) and submit it to the publishers. My hope is that this book may revalorize this important teaching about the primary responsibility of the Church.


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Question and Answer with Jerry Sumney on the Book of Colossians

Learn more about Colossians in the New Testament Library Series

Jerry Sumney Colossians commentary

Jerry L. Sumney (Ph.D., Southern Methodist University, 1987) is the Professor of Biblical Studies at Lexington Theological Seminary.

Dr. Sumney is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and is past president for the Southeastern Region of the Society. At the national level, he also served as the chair of the steering committee for the Theology of the Disputed Paulines Group from 1996-2001 and as the chair of the steering committee for the Disputed Paulines Section from 2004-2012. He also chaired the Pauline Epistles and Literature Section of the International Meeting of the SBL 2003-2008. He was elected to membership in the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS) in 2005.

He has written seven books: Paul: Apostle and Fellow Traveler (2014); The Bible: An Introduction (2010; 2nd edition, 2014); Colossians; A Commentary, New Testament Library Series (2008, link below); Philippians, A Handbook for Second-Year Greek Students (2007); Servants of Satan, False Brothers, and Other Pauline Opponents (1999); Preaching Apocalyptic Texts (co-authored with Larry Paul Jones; 1999) and Identifying Paul’s Opponents (1990). He is editor of Reading Paul’s Letter to Romans (2012); The Order of the Ministry; Equipping the Saints (2002) and co-editor of Theology and Ethics in Paul and His Interpreters (1996) and Paul and Pathos (2001). He also has written over 30 articles in journals and books.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Colossians?

I first became interested in Colossians through working on the identity of the teachers it opposes. Unlike many other interpreters, I came to the conclusion that they were urging people to worship like the angels they saw in their visions rather than calling people to worship angels. As I looked around, there were no commentaries written from this perspective. That led me to want to write one and the editors of the New Testament Library gave me the opportunity.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

This commentary is intended to be accessible to seminary students and pastors. I interact with the various ways that scholars interpret each part of the text, but not in a way that expects readers to be familiar with the issues or arguments. But the focus remains on the text rather than on the arguments about it. I take opportunity to reflect on the theological significance of the text, but do not make direct applications to current issues. Since I do interact with various viewpoints and give reasons for the positions I take, I think that other professors can also benefit from this commentary.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Colossians?

Every commentary in the NTL series has the author’s own translation of the text with an explanation of why the author translated it the ways he or she did. So readers get to see why I translated the text as I did. I also work to show how the argument works in Colossians. That is, I try to show how the writer supports the theological and ethics statements he wants the readers to adopt. This means that I see the poetic material of 1:15-20 as a supporting argument rather than as the main point. The readers already know and believe the Christology of this passage, so the writer uses it to convince them that he is right about how people are rightly related to God. The passage has still clearly important for the church as it has discussed Christology, but Colossians does not include it to convince the original readers to adopt its Christology because they already believed it. As I mentioned above, this is also the only full commentary that works from the understanding of the false teaching I bring to the text. Other interpreters hold this view, but none had written a commentary. This perspective opens some new possibilities for understanding some important texts in Colossians. Finally, this is the first commentary to give a post-colonial reading to the household of Colossians. As I read it, it acknowledges that the readers must conform to certain socio-cultural expectations, but also helps them remember that those demands sometimes violate their real identity in Christ.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

The section on the household code stands out because I was not only learning how to read from a new interpretive lens, but also seeing how this text has been misunderstood. The household codes in New Testament texts are often seen among scholars as a sign that the church was backing away from an earlier more egalitarian outlook. My reading of the Colossians code shows that Colossians continues to reject the hierarchical structure of the first century household. This makes this code consistent with broader assertions in the church about the oneness of all believers (Gal 3:26-28) and the descriptions of virtues that are for both men and women in Colossians. So this earliest of the household codes is not rejecting the church’s egalitarian teaching.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

One of the most edifying things was the constant insistence on the certainty of forgiveness and relationship with God that we have in Christ. The poetic material in 1:15-20 gives its vision of the exalted place of Christ as assurance that we have forgiveness and that any decree against us is removed because of the work of Christ. Just as the Colossians were being taught that they needed other experiences for that full relationship with God, so we sometimes feel that we need something more. One of the central themes of Colossians is that we fully have life with God, beginning now, because of and in Christ.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Colossians?

For those interested in very detailed study of the Greek text, the New International Greek Testament Commentary by James Dunn, and the International Critical Commentary volume by R. McL. Wilson are helpful. Still quite detailed is the Anchor Bible commentary by Markus Barth and Helmut Blanke. Also good and more accessible is the Sacra Pagina series commentary by Margaret MacDonald. Still more accessible is Marrianne Meye Thompson’s contribution to the Two Horizons series. Bryan Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat’s Colossians Remixed, is not a typical commentary, but in a dialogical format they work through the implications of the book for the present.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I have just finished a book on the ways Paul uses traditions that the church formulated before he was a leader and outside his influence. Just as Colossians uses the Christological liturgy, there are many places where Paul does similar things. It is entitled, Steward of God’s Mysteries (Eerdmans). I am currently writing a commentary on 2 Corinthians for the Readings series (Smyth and Helwys). Then I am committed to a commentary on 1 Corinthians for the Illuminations series (Eerdmans).


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