David Beldman Q & A – Judges – Two Horizons Commentary Series

Judges Commentary by David BeldmanDavid Beldman is an associate professor in the department of Religion and Theology and serves as the department chair. He is also the author of the Judges volume in the Two Horizons commentary series.

He earned a PhD in Old Testament Studies at the University of Bristol.

He has a passion for opening up the riches of Scripture for students and helping them discern how the Bible speaks powerfully and relevantly today. He teaches courses in biblical and theological studies, including New Testament Greek.

Dr. Beldman is also the author of:

His research interests include biblical theology, Old Testament narrative and wisdom literature, and public theology.

David loves listening to music, travel, and exploring the great outdoors, and in his spare time he enjoys restoring and riding vintage motorcycles. David and his wife Elsie have been married for 20 years and they have four kids.

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

My doctoral dissertation (University of Bristol) examined the last five chapters of the book of Judges, seeking to answer the question: what kind of ending to the book of Judges are these chapters (a revised version of this is now published as The Completion of Judges: Strategies of Ending in Judges 17-21 [Eisenbrauns, 2017])? I followed up my doctoral research with a very short and accessible theological introduction to Judges: Deserting the King: The Book of Judges (Lexham Press, 2017). These years of intensive study on Judges and the secondary literature on the book laid a solid foundation for writing the commentary.

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

Especially pastors preaching on Judges should find this commentary helpful, but it is also written with students and scholars in mind. I also think it is accessible enough for informed lay readers.

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

This particular commentary series allows for a good deal of space for theological reflection on the biblical book–the final section of the commentary aims to explore what Judges has to contribute to areas of biblical theology, systematic theology, and contemporary Christian life. Perhaps the most significant contribution the commentary makes to studies of Judges is the work which teases out a possible rhetorical function of the chronological deviation at the end of the book; in other words, I attempt to work out a reason why the events recorded at the end of the book are some of the earliest events in the book.

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

Two sections stand out off the top of my head. The first is the final section of the commentary which aims to allow the message of Judges to speak into the life of contemporary Christian individuals and communities. I was struck by just how relevant Judges is as it probes the failure of God’s people to give undivided loyalty to King Yahweh and the devastating and far-reaching consequences, not only for Israel but for the surrounding culture and nations Israel was called to bless–the parallels for today seem to jump off the pages of Judges! The second section which stood out was the exegetical work on the Samson cycle. Doing the close analysis on the Samson narratives really drove home how much Samson resented his special calling and his deep seated desire essentially to be a Philistine. This comes through when he reveals his secret (and his desire) to Deliah–“If you cut my hair I will become weak like every other man.” I think Samson believes that being like every other man will give him the freedom he’s been searching for, but sadly it leads to blindness and slavery. In this way, Samson is like a microcosm of the whole of God’s people.

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

I was struck again by God’s patience and his unswerving commitment to his covenant and long term purposes in the face of outright rebellion and disloyalty on the part of his people. I was also impressed by the underlying message that the way of living consistently before the face of King Yahweh (and on this side of the cross, King Jesus) is true freedom and abundant life, and disloyalty and divided allegiances leads to violence, chaos, misery, and death (I think that’s edifying, isn’t it?!).

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

My favourite commentaries on Judges are those by [Daniel] Block, [Barry] Webb and [Trent] Butler. Younger’s commentary is also very good. [Links go to Amazon.]

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

I’ve got a number of things on the go, but the major project I’m working on now is a textbook I am co-authoring on the Pentateuch for a new series by Baker Academic.

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