Leviticus, Numbers Commentary Q & A with Author Roy Gane

 

7 Questions on Leviticus and Numbers in the NIVAC Commentary Series

leviticus numbers commentary book coverRoy Gane (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is professor of Hebrew Bible and ancient near eastern languages at the Theological Seminary of Andrews University.

He is author of a number of scholarly articles and several books including God’s Faulty Heroes (Review Herald, 1996-on the biblical book of Judges), Altar Call (Diadem, 1999-on the Israelite sanctuary services and their meaning for Christians), Ritual Dynamic Structure (Gorgias Press, 2004), Leviticus, Numbers (NIV Application Commentary; Zondervan, 2004), and Cult and Character: Purification Offerings, Day of Atonement, and Theodicy (Eisenbrauns, 2005), as well as the Leviticus portion of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary on the Old Testament (2009).

Dr. Gane and his wife, Connie Clark Gane, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Mesopotamian archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley, have one daughter, Sarah Elizabeth.

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

During my graduate school (M.A and Ph.D.) years at the University of California, Berkeley, I had the privilege of studying under Jacob Milgrom, a world expert on Leviticus and Numbers, while he was writing major commentaries on these books. I had almost no interest in Leviticus and Numbers before that time, but Milgrom helped me to appreciate the way in which their details form a system of profound teaching that informs our understanding of the dynamic relationship between God and his people. Accordingly, my Ph.D. dissertation (1992; now published by Gorgias Press as Ritual Dynamic Structure, 2004) focused on the rituals of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) and their function in purging the sanctuary in comparison with purifications of sacred objects and spaces in Babylonian and Hittite ritual systems. Subsequently, in the process of teaching and speaking about ways in which the biblical sanctuary rituals teach us about salvation through Christ’s sacrifice and priestly mediation in heaven, I realized that there was a need for a popular book on the subject. So I published Altar Call (1999), of which a revised edition under the title of The Sanctuary and Salvation: The Practical Significance of Christ’s Sacrifice and Priesthood is currently under production.

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 fairly educated people in general who want to learn more about the Bible. It is based on scholarship and seeks to be profitable for professors and pastors, but it also attempts to communicate in a way that is accessible and engaging to a wide readership, including lay Christians as well as students.

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

The uniqueness and contribution of this commentary is largely based on the unique contribution of the NIV Application Commentary series as a whole. Whereas many commentaries have focused exclusively on the original meaning of biblical books and some have added some modern application, the NIVAC series treats each passage in three steps: original meaning, bridging contexts, and contemporary significance. Original meaning takes the reader back to the meaning in the ancient biblical world, but bridging contexts identify ongoing issues and principles in the text that carry over into contemporary significance, thereby returning the reader to present life in a controlled way, with practical application solidly rooted in actual biblical teaching. My volume on Leviticus and Numbers presents some cutting-edge research, including regarding the function of the Day of Atonement (Lev 16) as a time of judgment between loyal and disloyal Israelites when God’s judicial responsibility for forgiving guilty but repentant people was vindicated.

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

I had worked a lot with the sacrificial rituals of Leviticus before writing the commentary, but detailed study of some of the other legal and narrative portions was newer to me. Some of these were especially memorable to research and write because they involve issues that are hotly debated today, such as the laws against homosexual practice (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13), administering capital punishment (see on Num 35), and problems of theodicy, particularly the divinely mandated corporate capital punishment of some people groups, with the Israelites serving as God’s instrument (see on Numbers 21).

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

The whole writing project personally edified me and drew me closer to Christ, first as I saw the loving character of God reflected in the sacrifices foreshadowing the sacrifice of Christ and in the way he reached out to his people and interacted with them as close as he could get from his sanctuary residence among them. The various kinds of animal sacrifices illustrate different aspects of Christ’s sacrifice as he extends transforming mercy with justice to faulty human beings. The laws in Leviticus 17-27 further reveal God as he seeks to guide his people to well-being and happiness through harmony with his principles of cause-and-effect. Among these chapters, Leviticus 19 is a clarion call to love-based holy living that emulates God’s holy, loving character. The narratives in Leviticus and Numbers demonstrate God’s tough love in dealing with human waywardness and rebellion as he applied mercy when possible and justice when necessary to preserve the chosen nation.

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

Select bibliographies for Leviticus and Numbers are in my Leviticus, Numbers commentary. Here are just a few especially helpful works, and I could refer to many others. The huge 3-volume Anchor Bible series commentary on Leviticus (Leviticus 1-16, Leviticus 17-22, Leviticus 23-27; 1991, 2000, 2001) by my teacher, Jacob Milgrom, provides a wealth of detailed information and explanation of Leviticus, and his JPS Torah commentary on Numbers (1990) does much of the same for this book, although not to the same extent. There are a number of other fine commentaries on Leviticus, including those by Gordon Wenham (The Book of Leviticus; NICOT, 1979), John Hartley (Leviticus; WBC, 1992), and Baruch Levine (Leviticus; JPS Torah, 1989).

Some of the more helpful commentaries on Numbers are the Anchor Bible series commentary by Baruch Levine (Numbers 1-20, Numbers 21-36; 1993, 2000) and the commentary by Dennis Olson (Numbers; IBC, 1996). On the Israelite ritual system, especially in Leviticus but also in Numbers, see Roy Gane, Cult and Character: Purification Offerings, Day of Atonement, and Theodicy (2005) and David P. Wright, The Disposal of Impurity: Elimination Rites in the Bible and in Hittite and Mesopotamian Literature (1987). On biblical law involved in Leviticus and Numbers, see especially Dale Patrick, Old Testament Law (1985); Raymond Westbrook and Bruce Wells, Everyday Law in Biblical Israel: An Introduction (2009); Roy Gane, Old Testament Law for Christians: Original Context and Enduring Application (forthcoming, 2017).

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

I am now writing the Leviticus volume for the new Seventh-day Adventist International Bible Commentary series, which will be published in 2020. To follow my work, see academic.edu, researchgate.net, or digitalcommons.andrews.edu.


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Exodus Commentary Q & A with Author Tim Chester

 

7 Questions on Exodus in the For You commentary series

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Dr. Tim Chester is a pastor with Grace Church, Boroughbridge, UK, a faculty member of Crosslands Training and the author of over 30 books. He is married with two daughters.

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

I had been doing some working on the theme of new exodus in biblical theology so it was a great opportunity to explore the foundations of that theme in the original exodus. But I was also keen to get into the detail of the building of the tabernacle – the (large) section of the book of Exodus that is so often ignored. In particular I had some hunches about its link to creation that I wanted to pursue. Above all, I love preaching Old Testament narrative because it allows you to preach Christ in fresh ways.

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

I think of the God’s Word for You series as ‘expository guides’, although there is a commitment to cover every verse. I guess my two main audiences were Christians wanting something to guide their personal reading of Exodus and pastors wanting help as they seek to preach Christ from the Old Testament.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to the study of Exodus?

The commentary reflects a strong commitment to Christ-centered biblical theology. That means looking forward to the fulfillment of exodus, law and tabernacle in Jesus. But it also involves looking back to creation and Adam to see how exodus, law and tabernacle function as a blueprint for the renewal creation in Christ.

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

I particularly enjoyed working on the descriptions of the tabernacle and seeing their connection back to creation and on to Christ. It was great to be able to rehabilitate the best of an older tradition of exposition in this area. Also, the meal of Exodus 24 connected with previous work I’ve done in my book, A Meal with Jesus (IVP/Crossway). I also loved working on the parting of the Red Sea and making the connections to the ‘baptism’ of Jesus at the cross and to Christian baptism. It allows us to present salvation as moment of high drama.

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

Surprising as it may seem, it was probably description of fixtures and fittings! The fixtures and fittings of the tabernacle signal God’s intent to dwell among his people in a new creation and they point to how Christ will accomplish this. I loved tracing the connections between the cloud that shrouded Mount Sinai and the altar of incense – which was basically a cloud-making machine in the tabernacle – both of which are designed to shroud the consuming glory of God. This then sets the scene for the ascension of Jesus in which he passes through that cloud into the presence of God on our behalf.

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

The technical commentary I found most helpful was Exodus by John Mackay, published by the Mentor imprint of Christian Focus. It’s a good introduction to the meaning of the Hebrew text without expecting you to know Hebrew.

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

I’ve written 2 Samuel for You so that will be coming out soon to accompany my book, 1 Samuel for You. And I’m in the middle of working on Revelation for You. I have a couple of other books coming out soon. Rediscovering Joy is an introduction to the message of the Reformation in the form a three-way conversation between the Reformers in 16th-century Europe, Paul in 1st-century Galatia and us today. It’s published by IVP in the UK and Crossway in the US. The second book is Bible Matters, an introduction to the doctrine of Scripture with a particular focus on the relational nature of Scripture as the place in which we hear God’s voice. It’s published by IVP in the UK and InterVarsity in the US.

People can follow my at www.timchester.co.uk and @timchestercouk.


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1-2 Corinthians Commentary Q & A with Author David Gill

 

7 Questions on 1-2 Corinthians in the ZIBBC Commentary Series

corinthians commentary book cover

David W. J. Gill is Director of Heritage Futures and Professor of Archaeological Heritage at the University of Suffolk, and visiting research fellow at the University of East Anglia. He studied classical studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (on the line of Hadrian’s Wall in northern England) and conducted doctoral research at Lincoln College, University of Oxford. He was appointed a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome, and then returned to Newcastle as Sir James Knott Fellow working on ancient luxury.

Dr. Gill curated the Greek and Roman collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, and lectured for the Faculty of Classics. He subsequently moved to Swansea University in south Wales, where he was Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology. In 2012 he received the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) for his research on cultural property. David is married to Caroline, a published poet, and is a licensed Reader (lay minister) in the Church of England, and regularly preaches and takes services at his local parish church in Suffolk.

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 Corinthians?

My background lies in classical archaeology, in other words the material culture of the Greek and Roman worlds. I had been working on a landscape archaeology project on the eastern side of the Peloponnese in Greece. Indeed one of the Roman period (Augustan) inscriptions from the peninsula referred to a member of the social elite from Corinth who represented this small civic community at the heart of the provincial administration. The Greek text makes me think about how this city of Corinth had links with the smaller communities across the province.

I curated the Greek and Roman collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum in the University of Cambridge for some years, and had been able to work closely with Christian colleagues at Tyndale House who were working on research projects relating to the Corinthian correspondence. We realised that collaboration between classical and biblical scholars would provide an enriching interpretation of the New Testament documents. Out of this work emerged the five volume The Book of Acts in its First Century Setting series published by Eerdmans; I co-edited volume 2, Greco-Roman Setting, with Conrad Gempf.

The other half of the commentary was written by Moyer V. Hubbard of Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. During the writing of the commentary I made a study trip to Israel, and during a site visit on the edge of the Negev I bumped into a group of staff and students from Biola University. It was good to share fellowship with them in such an unexpected location.

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

The commentary has two main audiences. First it is aimed at a more lay audience though the commentary does have a critical apparatus so that readers can find out more or see the basis for some of the interpretations. Second it is written to help those preaching or leading Bible Studies to have access to relevant information about the colony of Corinth.

My hope is that contemporary Christian people will be able to connect with a letter written in the mid-first century and addressed to a church located in a Roman colony. And then, as they understand that original context and meaning, they will be able to apply it to their own lives and situations.

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

The commentary is intended to provide the relevant cultural background to the Corinthian correspondence. Corinth was founded as a new Roman colony in 44 BC by Julius Caesar (just before his assassination). The earlier Greek city had been destroyed about a century before and the site had been left abandoned. This new city, the home to the church receiving the letters from Paul, had Roman architecture, used Latin (rather than Greek), and operated within a Roman legal framework. Its two major harbours connected the city both with Italy and with the eastern Mediterranean and cities such as Ephesus, Alexandria and Caesarea. Corinth was also the administrative hub of the Roman province of Achaia. The commentary tries to approach the text from this Roman, rather than Greek, perspective. Paul wrote letters to actual Christian communities in specific places, and this commentary (and the rest of the series, edited by Clinton E. Arnold) attempts to try and bring this relationship to life.

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

1 Corinthians is a long epistle and certainly there were times that were both memorable and demanding. One of the most stretching was the section on food offered to idols in chapter 8. Few of us are likely to come across this issue in our regular Christian lives, though there are communities where this is a very real issue. In Roman Corinth meat from sacrifices made at religious festivals could find its way onto the table: the meat market stands next to one of the most prominent temples. Would it have been appropriate for Christians to consume such meat even though they did not accept the validity of the Roman gods?

We also face situations where it is permissible in Christian terms to take certain actions, and yet for the sake of fellow Christians we should refrain. I included a reflective box at this point in the commentary: “Do as I say, not as I do!” It is a chapter that makes me think through my own lifestyle.

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

1 Corinthians has that wonderful chapter (13) that describes how love works in the Christian community. It is a passage that is so often read at weddings, and memorably, for a British citizen, at Princess Diana’s funeral in Westminster Abbey.

Yet it is a passage that is addressed to individual members of the church. How do we put our love for Christ into our Christian relationships? It is a humbling passage and one that needs to bring us back to our motivation for serving Christ’s people. I noted in the reflection on this section: “we forget to concentrate on encouraging each other to allow love to permeate our Christian ministry and service”.

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

I suppose my response to this question is which books do I find myself returning to as I study 1 Corinthians or find myself preaching from the epistle, or leading a study group?

Gordon Fee’s magisterial commentary has so much thoughtful comment and discussion: but it is very detailed. David Prior’s commentary in the Bible Speaks Today series (IVP) helps ground the epistle in its applications for the Christian community today. Bible teachers and preachers need to help their congregations and audiences to engage with the biblical texts and apply them to their own situations. I also find Tom Wright’s short series of reflections on 1 Corinthians in his ‘Paul for Everyone’ series refreshing. Alongside these commentaries, I would also place Andrew D. Clarke’s Secular and Christian Leadership in Corinth: a Socio-Historical and Exegitical Study of 1 Corinthians 1-6 (1993) and a series of studies by Bruce Winter including his After Paul Left Corinth: the Influence of Secular Ethics and Social Change (2001) and Divine Honours for the Caesars: The First Christians’ Responses (2015).

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

I have been working on an edited volume, The Urban World and the First Christians, with Steve Walton and Paul Trebilco. This is due to be published by Eerdmans in the Fall of 2017. The volume emerged from an interdisciplinary conference and explored the urban setting for early Christianity. My own contribution was on the Roman colonial setting for early Christianity, and in particular, the communities at Corinth in Achaia, Philippi in Macedonia, and Pisidian Antioch in Galatia. As I write this I have just finished reading the page proofs and am reminded of the thoughtful contributions that will emerge.

My research on the first century background to Christianity is part of my wider work on the classical world. I list my academic publications and some lectures on my academia.edu site: https://ucs.academia.edu/DavidGill/

My professional profile and project details can be found in LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-gill-ba203924/

I write a heritage blog, with Professor Ian Baxter, that includes some sites in Greece and Turkey: heritagefutures.org.uk
This blog includes wider interests in the heritage field including the public interpretation of monuments. And in a sense that is what we are trying to do in our work on New Testament documents.

I tweet @davidwjgill.


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Ruth Commentary Q & A with Author L. Daniel Hawk

 

7 Questions on Ruth in the Apollos Old Testament Commentary Series

ruth commentary hawk

L. Daniel Hawk is Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Ashland Theological Seminary. He writes primarily about biblical narratives, with particular interests in the ways biblical and modern narratives construct and maintain identity and the intersections of religion, violence, and ethnicity in biblical texts.

An ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, he holds a B.A. from Otterbein University, M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. in Old Testament from Emory University.

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

I’ve been working with biblical Hebrew narrative for a long time, with an interest in how narrative shapes the identity, convictions, and commitments of the people of God. My work on narrative, especially the book of Joshua, incorporates narrative criticism, diverse reading approaches such as feminism and postcolonial studies, and the social sciences. In addition, comparative work with Greek tragedy has given me an appreciation for the biblical writers’ rich and sophisticated use of metaphor, which our modern information-oriented reading often misses. Finally, I’ve discovered that the stories and biblical figures that are commonly overlooked in biblical narrative – the women, widows, poor, and foreigners who stand at the fringes of the narrative – present some of the most powerful and vibrant messages about who God is and how we are to live.

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

The Apollos commentary series is directed toward a broad readership. It aspires to make cutting-edge scholarship accessible to all interested parties and provide substantive reflection that bridges the biblical text and contemporary life. Although I hope that my approach will interest scholars, I’ve written the commentary with pastors, teachers, and lay Christians in mind. I invite readers to walk around in this beautifully-written story with me and discover how powerfully it speaks to today’s church and world.

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

The commentary draws on two outside disciplines that have not been widely applied to the study of Ruth. First, I incorporate insights from studies on ethnicity and nationalism that elaborate the ways that narratives construct group identity. Biblical narratives are addressed to a people first of all; they construct, exemplify, and challenge how the nation sees itself, its place in the world, and its relationship with God. There is a large body of scholarship that addresses the central role that narratives play in maintaining national identity, and my commentary appropriates this scholarship.

Second, the commentary is informed by structuralism, a method that offers a way to get beneath the surface of the text in order to understand its symbolic infrastructure. This also is new to commentary on the book. The two methods reveal what a masterful story Ruth is. To summarize, Ruth takes up a story about marriage to address a deeper concern about Israel’s identity. The book begins with Naomi telling her daughters-in-law to go back to Moab and settle down with nice Moabite men – which is a way of saying, “You’re better off with your own kind.” But it ends with the marriage of a stigmatized Moabite to a fine, upstanding Israelite man. In the end, all of Bethlehem praises the outsider and equates her with Israel’s ancestral mothers – as if to say, “We’re even better when we embrace outsiders as members of our community.” The intervening narrative subtly shifts the reader’s perspective from one perspective to the other. So the story is about marriage, but the point is deeper: Is Israel a nation defined by high ethnic walls or instead by love for God and others, no matter who they are?

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

I was particularly affected by the scene in Boaz’s field (Ruth 2), where Ruth shows up to glean. Ruth is the quintessential outsider, who enters Israel’s space uninvited and perhaps unwanted. Boaz epitomizes the ancient virtue of hospitality: welcoming the stranger. Boaz becomes Ruth’s advocate, drawing her from the periphery to the center of the community, telling her she belongs with them, providing for her, and protecting her. What a powerful vision for the church in a world of massive migrations, intensifying poverty at home and abroad, and polarizing racial and ethnic tensions!

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

Spending time with Ruth drove home for me the tight connection between loving God and loving others. The Hebrew concept of chesed – the demonstration of love through tangible acts of devotion – ties the book together. Ruth takes us into the lives of those who are excluded from many of the benefits of communal life and struggle just to survive. Her loyalty and caring undoes stereotypes about the poor and ethnic others. Naomi’s transformation from emptiness and despair to fullness and joy reveals the powerful effect of acts of caring and devotion. And Boaz offers a vivid portrait of divine love to others. Boaz extends to a Moabite woman – who could not be more different than him – what God has done for all faithful followers. We could not be more different than God, but Christ has drawn us into God’s sphere of belonging, making us partakers of the divine nature. Ruth show us what it looks like to extend God’s love and grace to others.

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

Eskenazi, T. C. and R. Trymer-Kensky. Ruth. JPSBC. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2011.

Hubbard, R. L. Ruth. NICOT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.

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

I’m writing a book on the violence of God in the Bible, focusing on the way that the narratives of the Old and New Testaments relate what happens when God decides to rescue a violent world by stepping into the unholy mess that humans have made – and how that story challenges the church to engage in a multi-faceted conversation about how to address violence in our time. I’m also working on a devotional focused on the biblical vision of justice. As for following my ministry, I use my Facebook page as a platform to float ideas and generate conversation. I welcome new friends.


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Luke Commentary Q & A with Author James R. Edwards

 

7 Questions on Luke in the Pillar Commentary Series

luke commentary book cover

James R. Edwards (Fuller Theological Seminary, Phd.) is the Bruner-Welch Professor Emeritus of Theology at Whitworth University, Spokane, Washington. His primary research interests include Biblical studies and history of the early church, with secondary interests in the Reformation and history of the twentieth-century German Church struggle.

Dr. Edwards’ is a frequent visitor to Christian sites, libraries, and monasteries in Germany, Greece, Turkey, and Israel. Besides his commentaries on Mark and Luke in the Pillar series, he is the author of Romans in the New International Biblical Commentary series as well as Is Jesus the Only Savior?

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

Two things moved me to consider writing a commentary on the Gospel of Luke. The first was the completion of my commentary on the Gospel of Mark in the same series (Eerdmans’s Pillar New Testament Commentary). Mark was one of Luke’s chief sources, and I wanted to investigate more thoroughly how Luke utilizes Mark, and augments it for his own portrait of Jesus. The second thing has to do with the augmentation. Following my Mark commentary (published 2002), I wrote a book on the Hebrew Gospel, in which I proposed that the distinctive number of Hebraisms in “Special Luke” (the approximately one half of Luke that is not paralleled in Mark) derived from the ancient Hebrew Gospel mentioned by Eusebius and a dozen other church fathers. I published my findings in The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (Eerdmans, 2009). A commentary on Luke would allow me to show exactly where and how the Third Gospel utilizes the Hebrew Gospel as one of the eye-witness sources that he attributes in the prologues of the Gospel (Luke 1:2).

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

I endeavor to write for any English reader who is genuinely interested in the message of the New Testament. My commentaries are read by many students and professors in colleges and seminaries, and I am of course grateful to participate in the theological education of this current generation of pastor-scholars. But I am most pleased to hear, as I frequently do, from pastors and lay persons who find my commentaries interesting and “accessible.” I seek to address the major interpretive issues of the Gospels by writing in a lively style, avoiding undue technical terminology (and carefully defining it when I use it), and above all, indicating the theological and pastoral significance of points as appropriate.

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

My endeavor to demonstrated how Luke utilized a Hebrew source for “Special Luke,” as I have noted above, is perhaps the most unique contribution of my commentary. Along with this, I do not believe there was such a thing as the “Q” source, so my commentary is distinctive in this respect as well. But more broadly and theologically, my commentary shows how the Third Gospel from the Infancy Narrative onward portrays the life of Christ in terms of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and expectation. It is true that Luke writes for outsiders and marginal people and groups, but he above all presents Jesus as the fulfillment of salvation history, the hopes of Israel. Indeed, Luke, who is popularly considered to be the only Gentile author of a NT document, may have been a Jew. And two further distinctives, briefly. In Luke 7-9, we see a number of allusions to the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha, both of whom were miracle workers and also ministered to Gentiles, with reference to the presentation of Jesus. And finally, I do not regard the large central section of the Third Gospel (Luke 9:51-18:34) as a “travel narrative,” as is frequently supposed (for there are virtually no references to travel), but rather as Luke’s presentation of discipleship to Jesus as “the way,” which, incidentally, became the first epithet for the Christian movement according to the Book of Acts.

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

I was surprised here. I was dreading writing on chapter 15, especially the Parable of the Prodigal Son, not because I dislike the Parable, but because so much has been written on it that I could not imagine saying anything new or as well as others have already said it. But I have to say that the most enjoyable section in the commentary turned out being my exposition of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15! I soared on a thermal current of delight as I wrote that section, and I’m equally delighted as I reread it today.

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

It took me four years to complete the writing of my Luke commentary, writing virtually every day except for Sunday, and usually between two and five hours per day. When I invest myself that intensely in the New Testament, in this instance the Third Gospel, I am repeatedly impressed how true the gospel is. I am impressed how deeply the Gospel writers, Luke in this instance, believed that Jesus is the Son of God who lived and walked among mortals and introduced them to the liberating joy of the Kingdom of God. This realization redefines my work as a commentator. My task is not to prove anything, but rather simply to expound, as clearly and completely as I can, the Lukan account, because the Jesus therein is “self-authenticating.” The mission of the church—and also my mission as a commentator—is simply rightly and fully to expound and exhibit the gospel, to which the Holy Spirit bears saving witness in the world.

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

I would mention three categories of helpful commentaries.

First, for those interested in technical questions, philology, history, and exegetical exactness, I find the two best still to be Alfred Plummer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to S. Luke (ICC); and I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC).

Next, for those who are interested in the fullest exposition of Luke, especially with regard to its theological significance and its “reception history” (the way Luke has been received and interpreted throughout church history), the best source is the four-volume commentary on Luke written by Francois Bovon, Das Evangelium nach Lukas (which has just recently been translated into the three-volume Luke commentary in the Hermeneia Series).

Finally, the single best one-volume commentary that I found on Luke was Michael Wolter’s Das Lukasevangelium (HNT 5, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008). It’s a goldmine.

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

I am now writing a biography of Professor Ernst Lohmeyer, a famous German NT scholar, who was also president of two German universities, who opposed the Nazis during the Second World War (and survived), but who then found himself in opposition to the communists in East Germany after the war, by whom he was murdered. His name was blotted out by the East Germans for forty years as an “Enemy of the State.” I helped to resolved the mystery of his disappearance and death after the collapse of Soviet totalitarianism in 1990. I am currently completing his life story, which is a great introduction to twentieth-century NT scholarship and a riveting account of a man of faith and courage.

When I finish with Lohmeyer, I want to begin writing the story of how the Jesus movement developed into the organized church within the first generation of the Christian movement.


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2 Corinthians Commentary Q & A with Author Colin Kruse

 

7 Questions on 2 Corinthians in the TNTC Commentary Series

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Colin G. Kruse (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is senior lecturer of New Testament at Melbourne School of Theology. Besides journal articles on the New Testament, Old Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Kruse has authored several books including Paul, the Law and Justification and New Testament Models for Ministry: Jesus and Paul. He has also written the Tyndale New Testament Commentary on 2 Corinthians and the Pillar New Testament Commentary titles The Letters of John and Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

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

When doing research for my PhD thesis (Jesus, Paul and Ministry), work on 2 Corinthians was an important part, and this proved valuable when I was asked to write the Tyndale commentary on 2 Corinthians.

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

The commentary is intended primarily for lay Christians and university students, but theological students working on the exegesis of 2 Corinthians have told me they have found it a very easy introduction to the letter’s interpretation, themes and theology.

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

The commentary charts a clear, plausible course through the maze of the literary history of Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthian Christians. This should enable readers to understand the overall message of the letter, as well as its “purple passages.” Additional notes provide fuller discussion on particular difficulties as well as major themes.

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

Memorable areas of research for me were identifying and trying to understand the motivation of Paul’s opponents, and lessons to be learnt from the way the apostle responded to them.

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

Like many other commentators on 2 Corinthians, I found Paul’s teaching on the coincidence of human weakness and divine power in ministry to be both edifying and encouraging.

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

Among the many good commentaries available, I would strongly recommend those by Barnett [NICNT], Harris [NIGNT], Hafemann [NIVAC], Seifrid [PNTC], and Thrall [ICC]. Very helpful, too, is Bray’s Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture volume on 2 Corinthians.

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

I am currently checking the page proofs for my revised and expanded version of the Tyndale commentary on the Gospel of John, due for release in July 2017. I am also working on a manuscript for the volume on 2 Corinthians in the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series.


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Exodus Commentary Q & A with Author Randall Bailey

 

7 Questions on Exodus in the The College Press NIV Commentary Series

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Randall Bailey (Phd. Drew University) is the Professor of Bible and the Director of the Kearley Graduate School of Theology at Faulkner University. He primarily teaches Old Testament courses, including Hebrew and Aramaic. He teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate level. He has led over 20 trips to the former Soviet Union as a short-term missionary.

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

I had been a participant in writing the introductory volume to the series in which my Exodus Commentary appeared. As you know many series like this have an introductory volume that contains introductions to the Bible books in which commentaries are written for that series. In the College Press NIV Old Testament Introduction, I wrote Introductions to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Daniel. When I completed that, they asked me to write the commentary on Exodus. It had been delayed, but because I got my work in in a timely manner and my writing style fit with what we were doing in that series, I was most happy and honored to be asked to write this commentary.

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

That was one of the first questions I asked the College Press editors. I was told, “3rd and 4th year undergraduate Bible majors, graduate Bible students, pastors, professors, and Christians in local churches who desired to dig a little deeper into the word.”

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

I would not call it “unique,” but I liked the way Childs in his Exodus commentary employed the canonical approach. I decided to emend that methodology a little. Where Childs traced the use of specific passages by varying religious communities, I attempted to look at the Exodus passages as they resounded throughout the Bible and found their conclusion in the NT. Sometimes this was in prophecy, sometimes in typology, or some other means. However, this method was not so much just jumping from the passage in Exodus to its mention in the NT, but what were the implications of its use in the NT? How was the NT a commentary on the Exodus use?

For example, at the transfiguration when Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus about his “exodus,” what were these implications? The construction of the Tabernacle was for the purpose of allowing the Holy God to dwell among his people. Holiness when not appropriately approached, is dangerous. What are the implications of this and the fact that our very bodies are “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” and that “Christ dwells in us”? What are the implications of John saying that Jesus “tabernacled” among us? These and similar questions in the commentary pointed to these kinds of discussions in an attempt to make the “often-thought ‘boring'” parts of Exodus (the construction of the tabernacle and its furniture) more practical and useful

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

It was no so much a particular passage as it was the coming to understand how Exodus 32 split the book into “two books.” Prior to 32 God is continually stating he is doing this to honor his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that these are his people. In 32:7, God says, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” Not only is this humorous (“Wait until your father gets home!” “Let me tell you what your son did!”), but it implies a complete rejection of the people due to their sin. If the items of the Tabernacle were constructed to implement a worship allowing the people to approach God appropriately in the first chapters, the chapters after chapter 32 with its often repeated “Just as the Lord commanded so they did,” implies complete repentance and God’s forgiveness. The repetition of this statement shows emphatically these points. Where they had disobeyed, now they go the extra mile to obey exactly what God commanded.

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

I came to appreciate more the concept of holiness. The appropriate means had to be employed to approach the holy God. To approach the holy God without using the appropriate means, specifically obedience (cf. Lev 10) was dangerous. Having come to understand that, I now find it very difficult to describe what it means when Paul says in 1 Cor 6 that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. In that context, Paul shows the particular hideousness of sexual immorality. Taking the body that is made holy by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and immorally linking/joining it with that which is unholy. Ezekiel 10-12 shows God abandoning his temple. When will God abandon his temple in the NT when a Christian continues to push and engage in sinful activities?

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

I found all of them listed in my bibliography I found the four volume set by Dr. Cornelis Houtman in the Historical Commentary Old Testament the most useful. That commentary covers all issues, whether critical, preaching/teaching, or practical.

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

I am presently working on publishing some of the chapters of my dissertation. Last year I published one in Hebrew Studies. They need to be updated since the dissertation was completed in 1987. People may follow me easiest at Linkedin and Academia.edu, though I do not publish things there very often due to my activities of directing the Graduate Bible Program at Faulkner.


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Acts Commentary Q & A with author David G. Peterson

 

7 Questions on Romans in the Pillar Commentary Series

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David G. Peterson (Ph.D. from the University of Manchester) was the Principal of Oak Hill Theological College, London, between 1996 and 2007, lecturing in Biblical Studies and Worship. He is an ordained minister of the Anglican Church of Australia. He was senior research fellow and lecturer in New Testament at Moore Theological College in Sydney where he now lectures part-time. He is the author of Encountering God Together.

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

For many years I taught Acts as part of an introductory course in New Testament at Moore College in Sydney Australia. This course was focused on the historicity of Acts and the way it provides a context for the study of the Pauline letters. I soon developed a growing interest in the theological meaning of the text and was especially encouraged in this by the work of Robert Tannehill. I wrote an article on ‘The Motif of Fulfilment in Luke-Acts’ for The Book of Acts in its First Century Setting Vol. 1 Ancient Literary Setting, edited by Bruce W. Winter and Andrew D Clarke. Then I was asked to edit with Howard Marshall and contribute to a volume of essays on the theology of Acts, entitled Witness to the Gospel. So, when I was asked to write the commentary on Acts in the Pillar series, I determined to focus on exploring the theological significance of Luke’s narrative.

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

This commentary was especially written to benefit pastors in their preaching and students in their reflection on the meaning and significance of Acts. However, lay Christians should be able to benefit from the work as well, especially those leading Bible study groups and adult eduction classes.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to the study of Acts?

I believe it is the most thorough examination of the theology of Acts in commentary form presently available, using the method of narrative criticism.

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

I found that writing on Paul’s experience in Athens (Acts 17:16-34) was both memorable and challenging, because this passage speaks so clearly and relevantly to the ‘post-Christian’ secular environment in which I live.

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

Luke’s continuing focus on the word of the gospel as the means by which people of different nationalities and backgrounds are brought to faith and union with Christ and his people was a continuing encouragement to me. This increased my confidence in the risen Christ as the one who uses the word to grow his church.

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

Robert Tannehill, The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: A Literary Interpretation Vol. 2 The Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990); Ben Witherington, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Michigan: Grand Rapids, 1998); Luke Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles (Collegeville, 1992); Darrell Bock, Acts (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007); C. K. Barrett, The Acts of the Apostles 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Clark, 1994, 1998); I Howard Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles (Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1980).

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 writing a commentary on Romans, due to be published August 1st this year. This is part of a new series called Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation (B & H, Nashville). Details are on my website (davidgpeterson.com). My next project is to write a commentary on Hebrews for the revised Tyndale Commentary series.


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Leviticus, Numbers Commentary Q & A with Author Joe Sprinkle

 

7 Questions on Leviticus and Numbers in the Teach the Text Commentary Series

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Joe M. Sprinkle (PhD, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion) is professor of Old Testament at Crossroads College in Rochester, Minnesota. He is author of The Book of the Covenant: A Literary Approach and Biblical Law and Its Relevance, as well as articles in journals, dictionaries, and a study Bible.

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

I became interested in Old Testament laws to a greater degree when I studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois under Walter Kaiser. His book Towards Old Testament Ethics influenced that interest. Then I studied for my Ph.D. at the Jewish seminary, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati where the Torah was emphasized. I ended up doing a dissertation on the so-called Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:22-23:33) under Rabbi Dr. H. C. Brichto, and most of my publications subsequently have been in the area of biblical law. I was asked do a second draft translation editing of the Holman Christian Standard Bible’s book of Leviticus that got me into the exegesis of that book. Knowledge of my interest in Old Testament laws no doubt influenced the editor of the Teach the Text series, John Walton, to invite me to contribute to the series on Leviticus and Numbers.

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

Anyone wanting a guide to understanding the meaning and relevance of Leviticus and Numbers should find the book valuable. The series is intended for pastors and lay teachers who actually intend to “Teach the Text.” A large women’s Bible study group at my church used it for their study of Numbers, and I got very positive feedback from that group. I have used it as a textbook for an undergraduate course in Numbers, and I think it works well as a college/seminary textbook too.

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

The organization of each section places some stress in the historical-archaeological backdrop of each unit (where applicable). Each unit, in addition to exegesis, has guidance on how one could actually “teach the text” in a Christian context. There are also teaching illustrations at the end of each section (some of which were written by the publisher’s ghost-writer, but about 50% of these are mine). And there are profuse illustrations (photos, maps, charts, etc.) provided by the publisher (many at my suggestion) that add color and interest to books of the Bible that frankly could use a bit of that to maintain the interest of readers.

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

One thing that comes to mind is when I as I was studying the Balaam Cycle. I came to the conclusion that the the talking donkey scene was a flashback (resumptive repetition) to the dream-vision God gave Balaam earlier in the chapter. While the Jewish theologian Maimonides saw this centuries ago, I may be the first modern commentator to defend it. This is probably the most distinctive proposal I offer in the commentary.

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

Writing on books that many Christians just skip over as not particular relevant has reconfirmed to me that “All Scripture is inspired by God . . . and profitable for teaching” (2 Tim 3:16), even parts that upon first glance seem not inspiring or profitable. I found that even the most unpromising chapters have relevance spiritually. However, the value in the non-narrative parts of these books is only seen by study and reflection, not just reading over them. I much enjoyed the occasion for doing this personally. And of course the laws of sacrifice continually reminded me of how these sacrifices foreshadow the sacrifice of Christ.

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

For pure exegesis the massive commentaries on Leviticus and Numbers by Jacob Milgrom are unsurpassed. Milgrom left no stone unturned exegetically and his critical stance is such that even a conservative like me could find much of value there. Many ideas in my much more modestly sized commentary have been drawn from Milgrom’s 3000+ pages of dense comment on these books. Also the commentaries of Gordon Wenham on Leviticus and Numbers respectively are of much value. John Hartley on Leviticus and Dennis Cole’s commentary on Numbers are also excellent.

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

I am working on a commentary on Daniel for Broadman/Holman. People who like my work can look for that to appear in the next couple of years. It will emphasize the biblical theology of that book.


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