We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of A Continental Commentary (20 volumes) from Fortress Press for the Accordance Library.
This series consists of 19 volumes on the biblical text (16 Old Testament and 3 New Testament) and one volume serving as an extended excursus on the theology of the Psalms. A Continental Commentary stands out as a series that offers English translations of European (primarily French and German) commentators in English. However, Jacob Milgrom, who wrote the Leviticus volume is an Israeli American.
Volumes in A Continental Commentary are fairly technical, assuming a working knowledge of biblical languages; however, any highly-motivated reader with limited biblical language experience should be able to make use of them. The format of the volumes can roughly be compared to that of the Word Biblical Commentary with variations of the following structure in most volumes: bibliographies by section, author translations with extensive translation notes, analysis of passages, interpretation, summary, and history of influence.
Tap/click the image above for a larger view of A Continental Commentary in Accordance 13 for Windows.
Tap/click the image above for a larger view of Kraus' Theology of the Psalms in Accordance on the iPad.
A Continental Commentary boasts a wide variety of well-known (mostly) European scholarship. I’ve listed the volumes below along with links to reviews in Accordance journals.
Genesis 1-11 (Claus Westermann)
Genesis 12-36 (Claus Westermann)
Genesis 37-50 (Claus Westermann)
Leviticus (Jacob Milgrom)
Review by Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Bibliotheca Sacra
Review by Richard P. Belcher, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Ruth (André LaCocque)
Review by N. Blake Hearson, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
1 & 2 Kings (Volkmar Fritz)
Review by Claude F. Mariottini, Review & Expositor
Psalms 1-59 (Hans-Joachim Kraus)
Psalms 60-150 (Hans-Joachim Kraus)
Theology of the Psalms (Hans-Joachim Kraus)
Qoheleth (Norbert Lohfink)
Review by William D. Barrick, Master’s Seminary Journal
The Song of Songs (Othmar Keel)
Review by Bill T. Arnold, Ashland Theological Journal
Review by G. Lloyd Carr, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Summary by Mark Biddle, Review & Expositor
Isaiah 1-22 (Hans Wildberger)
Isaiah 13-27 (Hans Wildberger)
Review by John N. Oswalt, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Isaiah 28-39 (Hans Wildberger)
Obadiah & Jonah (Hans Walter Wolff)
Micah (Hans Walter Wolff)
Haggai (Hans Walter Wolff)
Matthew 1-7 (Ulrich Luz)
Galatians (Dieter Lührmann)
Review by Moisés Silva, Westminster Theological Journal
The Revelation of John (Jürgen Roloff)
Currently, A Continental Commentary is only available as a set of 20 volumes. Introductory pricing is available for a limited time.
A Continental Commentary (20 Volumes)
List Price $895
Regular Price $599
Hands down, Craig Keener has consistently remained one of my favorite New Testament commentary writers in recent years. As stated by his publisher, Keener is “widely respected for his thorough research, sound judgments, and knowledge of ancient sources.” For anyone interested in biblical backgrounds and the contexts from which the New Testament writings sprang, Keener’s new commentary on Galatians is a must-have addition to one’s personal Accordance Library.
Keener’s commentary on Galatians, published by Baker Academic is an expansion of his previous Galatians commentary written for Cambridge University Press. And expansion may be too conservative of a term. Consider that at nearly 900 pages, Keener’s Baker commentary on Galatians is nearly three times the size of his Cambridge volume. But even with Keener’s no-rock-unturned approach, the commentary never becomes tedious or too technical so as only to be accessed by only a few.
Click/tap on the image above for a larger view of Keener's commentary on Galatians.
This commentary on Galatians begins with Keener’s own translation of the epistle, presented in entirety so that the reader can read it in its entirety before even beginning the Gospel. The translation itself is described “as a more colloquial, dynamic-equivalent rendering except where it would impair the connection between the translation and the notes.” I found Keener’s translation to be somewhere between the NIV and NLT, but even that is an unfair comparison as the flavor and style is all his own.
The introduction to the commentary covers all the required elements: history of interpretation, theology, themes, literary style, audience and more, compromising the equivalent of about 45 pages in print. The actual commentary on Scripture includes and introduction by section before verse-by-verse treatment. I found the footnotes to be a rich treasure trove of both ancient sources as well as contemporary thought.
To the right: Keener's translation of Galatians. Click/tap for a larger view.
Although Keener makes use of original languages, these are most often in parentheses and include transliteration for the non-specialist. This approach opens the commentary to a much wider audience of scholars, pastors, and serious readers of the Bible. The commentary also includes 35 excursuses, mini articles, written on a variety of subjects such as “Righteous Abraham in Jewish Tradition,” “Paul and the Law,” and “The ‘Flesh,’” among others.
I first discovered Craig Keener through the IVP Bible Background Commentary on the New Testament and have thoroughly enjoyed his more detailed offerings on John and Acts. The new commentary on Galatians is a welcome addition to these. If Keener wants to work his way through the entire New Testament, that’s okay by me because our understanding of these writings will be all the better for it.
Galatians: A Commentary
Regular Price $59.90
As a longtime Accordance employee, I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to all the resources in my personal Accordance Library. I have more Bibles, original language texts, dictionaries, commentaries, and books at my fingertips than I know what to do with; and I get new toys to play with all the time. Yet even though I have access to all these materials, I tend to consult a handful of trusted resources over and over again. After all, who has time to read 100 commentaries on the same passage?
Nevertheless, there are times when some of those lesser-used resources come in handy. Here are a couple recent examples:
I recently taught through the story of King Saul and the medium of Endor in Sunday school, and I pointed out that when the spirit of Samuel was called up, he was incredulous that Saul would disturb him. When Saul complained that the LORD no longer spoke to him, Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy?” (1 Samuel 28:16). Today my wife paraphrased Samuel's words to Saul as, “Why have you disturbed me? Are you crazy?” Laughing, I did my best Yiddish accent—which sounds remarkably like Billy Crystal in A Princess Bride—and said, “What? Are you a meshuggener?” When my wife asked me what meshuggener means, I said, “I think it's Yiddish for a crazy person.” Of course, I then felt compelled to make sure I was using the term correctly, so I opened a little known Accordance resource, The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words. This handy resource is great for translating the numerous Jewish concepts and Yiddish words which have worked their way into English vernacular. I don’t necessarily use it often, but I’ve been surprised how many times I've turned to it over the years. In case you’re wondering, I had used meshuggener correctly. Not bad for a goy!
The other day I stumbled across a Facebook discussion in which a friend (actually, our own Rick Mansfield) mentioned an Eastern Orthodox theological term with which I was unfamiliar (theosis). Desperate to avoid Rick knowing something I don’t know, I turned to Accordance and searched all my Theological resources for that term. I very quickly found articles on theosis in various theological dictionaries, as well as an interesting discussion in Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith. The latter is a systematic theology which I’ve long thought looks interesting, but which I’ve never really had the time to dig into. On this occasion, I was glad to rediscover it. (Oh, and I’m kidding about not wanting Rick to know anything I don’t know. He knows lots…he knows some…well, he knows a few things I don’t know!)
While I typically consult a handful of favorite all-purpose commentaries and dictionaries, I find that there are lots of specialized commentaries and dictionaries which come in very handy. As I’ve been teaching through various Old Testament narrative books, I often consult the relevant volumes of IVP’s Dictionary of the Old Testament, which tends to cover recent scholarship on questions many general Bible dictionaries pass over. When I was teaching through the book of Genesis, I found Waltke’s one-volume commentary particularly helpful, and I've written elsewhere about how helpful I’ve found the Gospel According to the Old Testament series.
I could give numerous other examples of works I consult less often than my go-to resources, but which I am nevertheless glad to have when I need them. If I could distill these anecdotes into a word of practical advice it would be this: when building your Accordance Library, concentrate first on buying the must-have resources you need to cover the bulk of your research needs. Invest in a few go-to commentaries and all-purpose dictionaries. Once you’ve got those covered, consider adding more specialized resources which may never be the first place you’ll turn, but which may prove to be the best place to turn in certain cases. Build a well-rounded library, and you’ll be delightfully surprised at the questions Accordance can help you answer.
Best of all, you’ll avoid looking like a meshuggener!
The IVP Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek offers a simple definition for the word exegesis: “The act or result of drawing out the meaning of the biblical text and explaining it; interpretation.” Although, there is often some overlap, an exegeticalcommentary is different from an expositorycommentary. An exegetical commentary can often be a bit more technical, dealing with literary and linguistic issues, while an expository commentary often focuses primarily on the task of teaching or preaching a biblical passage. That’s not to say someone teaching or preaching the Bible wouldn’t use both kinds of commentaries—of course, they do! But the exegetical commentary generally draws out the meaning without going to the next step of application.
Earlier this week, we released 7 Old Testament volumes in the Kregel Exegetical Library, an ongoing series that will cover both Old and New Testaments when complete. In the Kregel Academic Catalog, the publisher describes the series this way:
Written by evangelical scholars, the Kregel Exegetical Library (KEL) benefits pastors and students while also contributing to the scholarly dialogue on each book of the Bible. The commentaries in this ongoing series provide careful, in-depth exegesis and homiletical guidance for each passage.
The series has an impressive lineup of contributors in the volumes produced thus far:
- Exodus by Duane Garrett (2014)
- Judges and Ruth by Robert B. Chisholm Jr. (2013)
- 1-2 Chronicles by Eugene H. Merrill (2015)
- Psalms (3 Volumes) by Allen P. Ross (2012-2016)
- Book of the Twelve by Michael Shepherd (2018)
I was especially intrigued by Shepherd’s approach in the newest volume on the 12 Minor Prophets. Breaking with approaches from the last couple of centuries, Shepherd attempts to examine the 12 writings as a literary whole. In the introduction Shepherd writes:
This volume offers something unique when compared to other commentaries on the so-called Minor Prophets. Numerous works have been published on Hosea–Malachi in either single-volume or multivolume format that treat these prophetic books as twelve separate compositions, often rearranging them in chronological order. This approach is largely due to the lasting effects of the rise of historical criticism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. More recent biblical scholarship has sought to give an account of the transmission of the Book of the Twelve as a single composition in antiquity by highlighting the historical evidence for its unity and by tracing the internal clues to the work of a final composer. The present volume is an effort to bring that scholarship into a commentary setting that will be accessible to students, pastors, and scholars alike. It is hoped that a better understanding of the compositional unity of the Twelve will remove the sense of disconnectedness that readers initially experience with the Prophets and lead to a greater appreciation of the ongoing relevance of the Twelve as Christian Scripture.
In this particular volume, Shepherd provides his own translation interacting with the Hebrew, Greek (LXX), and Syriac texts of these books. In fact, each contributor in the series provides his own translation of the text. Although attention is given to original language content, the non-specialist should be able to work through this content as well.
I mentioned at the outset of this blog post that while there is a difference between exegetical and expository commentaries, there is often overlap. That is certainly true of this series. The title of the series, Kregel Exegetical Library, describes its primary thrust. Nevertheless, some contributors have often included expository helps drawing attention to aspects that are helpful when communicating the message of the passage.
Volumes are available as a whole set with introductory discounted pricing for a limited time, or Accordance users may purchase individual volumes.
Kregel Exegetical OT Library (7 Volumes)
Regular Price $299
Individual volumes also available:
We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of the Reformed Expository Commentary (27 volumes), from P&R Publishing, for the Accordance Bible Software Library.
(Note: The initial release of Reformed Expository Commentary was a 28-volume product. The 28-volume product is no longer available; it has been replaced by the 27-volume product which removed the volume on Acts at the publisher's request.)
Click/tap on images below for a larger view of the REC on various platforms supported by Accordance.
The series preface describes four fundamental commitments by the authors of the REC. “First, these commentaries aim to be biblical, presenting a comprehensive exposition characterized by careful attention to the details of text.” The series is distinguished from exegetical commentaries, however, in that they treat the biblical text by passage and not verse by verse or word by word.
“Second, these commentaries are unashamedly doctrinal.” The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms serves as a doctrinal basis for the series, which—as the series name suggests—defines the Reformed viewpoint of the series.
“Third, these commentaries are redemptive-historical in their orientation.” Thus, the series is Christocentric in its treatment of Old Testament passages with “characters, events, regulations, and institutions are properly understood as pointing us to Christ and his gospel, as well as giving us examples to follow in living by faith.”
“Fourth, these commentaries are practical, applying the text to contemporary challenges of life—both public and private—with appropriate illustrations.
The editors and authors (described in the preface as all being “pastor-scholars”) of the REC recognize the work of biblical interpreters who have come before them, but see this series as one for this specific generation. Their conviction is that exposition and theology go hand in hand and that any biblical passage “must arise from the doctrine taught in Scripture as a whole.”
The Reformed Expository Commentary (REC) currently consists of 10 Old Testament volumes, covering 15 OT books; 16 New Testament volumes; and one thematic volume on the Incarnation, adapted from the content on the REC volumes on Matthew, Luke, and John. Richard D. Phillips and Philip Graham Ryken serve as series editors. Most volumes are based upon the text of the English Standard Version, with a few authors opting for the 1984 NIV, and one author using his own translation (in the Song of Songs volume).
As an exposition commentary, the series is primarily designed to aid pastors and Bible teachers, specifically within church settings; however, others will surely find these volumes of interest as well. Greek and Hebrew content is transliterated, opening the series up to a wide audience.
Reformed Expository Commentary (27 Volumes)
Print Value $771
List Price $542.60
Regular Price $469
Each of the volumes within this series is also available individually. Volumes include:
- 1 Samuel by Richard D. Phillips (2012) (Regular Price $24.90)
- 1 Kings by Philip Graham Ryken (2011) (Regular Price $24.90)
- Esther & Ruth by Iain M. Duguid (2005) (Regular Price $12.90)
- Ezra & Nehemiah by Derek Thomas (2016) (Regular Price $24.90)
- Ecclesiastes by Douglas S. O'Donnell (2014) (Regular Price $15.90)
- Song of Songs by Iain M. Duguid (2016) (Regular Price $15.90)
- Daniel by Iain M. Duguid (2008) (Regular Price $15.90)
Review: JETS, PRJ
- Jonah & Micah by Richard D. Phillips (2010) (Regular Price $20.90)
- Zechariah by Richard D. Phillips (2007) (Regular Price $20.90)
- Zephaniah, Haggai & Malachi by Iain M. Duguid, Matthew P. Harmon (2018) (Regular Price $17.90)
- Matthew (2 vols) by Daniel M. Doriani (2008) (Regular Price $41.90)
- Luke (2 vols) by Philip Graham Ryken (2009) (Regular Price $41.90)
- John (2 vols) by Richard D. Phillips (2014) (Regular Price $41.90)
- Acts by Derek Thomas (2011) (Removed 11/8/18 at the publisher's request)
- Galatians by Philip Graham Ryken (2005) (Regular Price $17.90)
- Ephesians by Bryan Chapell (2009) (Regular Price $20.90)
- Philippians by Dennis E. Johnson (2013) (Regular Price $20.90)
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians by Richard D. Phillips (2015) (Regular Price $24.90)
- 1 Timothy by Philip Graham Ryken (2007) (Regular Price $20.90)
- Hebrews by Richard D. Phillips (2006) (Regular Price $24.90)
- James by Daniel M. Doriani (2007) (Regular Price $15.90)
- 1 Peter by Daniel M. Doriani (2014) (Regular Price $17.90)
- 1-3 John by Douglas S. O'Donnell (2015) (Regular Price $13.90)
- Revelation by Richard D. Phillips (2017) (Regular Price $27.90)
- The Incarnation in the Gospels by Daniel M. Doriani (2008) (Regular Price $15.90)
We are pleased to announce the release of the Asia Bible Commentary, available immediately for the Accordance Bible Software Library.
What follows below is from the series preface by Federico G. Villanueva.
In recent years, we have witnessed one of the greatest shifts in the history of world Christianity. It used to be that the majority of Christians lived in the West, but Christians are now evenly distributed around the globe. This shift has implications for the task of interpreting the Bible from within our respective contexts, which is in line with the growing realization that every theology is contextual. The questions that we bring into our reading of the Bible will be shaped by our present realities as well as our historical and social locations. There is a need therefore to interpret the Bible for our own contexts.
The Asia Bible Commentary (ABC) series addresses this need. In line with the mission of the Asia Theological Association Publications, we have gathered Asian evangelical Bible scholars to write commentaries on each book of the Bible. The mission is to “produce resources that are biblical, pastoral, contextual, missional, and prophetic for pastors, Christian leaders, cross-cultural workers, and students in Asia.” Although the Bible can be studied for different reasons, we believe that it is given primarily for the edification of the Body of Christ (2 Tim 3:16–17). The ABC series is designed to help pastors in their sermon preparation, cell group leaders or lay leaders in their Bible study groups, and those training in seminaries or Bible Schools.
Each commentary begins with an introduction that provides general information about the book’s author and original context, summarizes the main message or theme of the book, and outlines its potential relevance to a particular Asian context. The introduction is followed by an exposition that combines exegesis and application. Here, we seek to speak to and empower Christians in Asia by using our own stories, parables, poems, and other cultural resources as we expound the Bible.
The Bible is actually Asian in that it comes from ancient West Asia, and there are many similarities between the world of the Bible and traditional Asian cultures. But there are also many differences that we need to explore in some depth. That is why the commentaries also include articles or topics in which we bring specific issues in Asian church, social, and religious contexts into dialogue with relevant issues in the Bible. We do not seek to resolve every tension that emerges but rather to allow the text to illumine the context and vice versa.
The volumes in this series are also available individually. Volumes include:
- Judges by Athena E. Gorospe with Charles R. Ringma
- Lamentations by Federico G. Villanueva
- Psalms 1-72 by Federico G. Villanueva
- Micah by Johan Ferreira
- Matthew by Samson L. Uytanlet with Kiem-Kiok Kwa
- 1, 2, 3 John by Gilbert Soo Hoo with Pervaiz Sultan
The Asia Bible Commentary Series is available for Accordance as a set or by individual volume.
Asia Bible Commentary Series (6 Volumes)
List Price $122.40
Regular Price $99.90
We are pleased to announced the immediate availability of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary for the Accordance Bible Software Library. Introductory discounted pricing is available for a limited time.
From the publisher: Edited by David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida, this new commentary series, projected to be 48 volumes, takes a Christ-centered approach to expositing each book of the Bible. Rather than a verse-by-verse approach, the authors have crafted chapters that explain and apply key passages in their assigned Bible books. Readers will learn to see Christ in all aspects of Scripture, and they will be encouraged by the devotional nature of each exposition.
Years ago, when I took my MDiv-level Old Testament Intro course under John D. W. Watts, I was faced with what I considered at the time to be a difficult task. Dr. Watts required my fellow students and me to write an exegesis paper on an Old Testament passage, and we weren't allowed to make any mention of or connection to the New Testament. That kind of assignment is actually fairly common among Christian seminaries I would later learn, with the goal to understand “original” meaning without the layers of interpretation added over the centuries. But after attending Sunday School classes since before I could read, I’m not certain I ever knew the Old Testament without a connection to the New Testament.
Seeing Jesus Christ in the pages of the Old Testament is as old as the events behind the New Testament itself. We read in Luke 24:27, “Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures" (CSB). Not only did Jesus do this himself, the Gospel writers, the author of Hebrews, and—for that matter—all the New Testament writers read the Hebrew Scriptures this way. In the second century, Irenaeus wrote that “the treasure hid in the Scriptures is Christ” (Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book 4, 26:1), referring specifically to the Old Testament. And this kind of reading of the Old Testament from a Christian perspective has gone on ever since.
Not all modern Bible commentaries include Christocentric readings of the Old Testament, even though this type of interpretation is still taught in churches through Bible studies and sermons. To this end, the editors and writers of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary (CCEC) “affirm that the Bible is a Christ-centered book” with a “Christ-centered trajectory that runs from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22" (Series Introduction).
CCEC has four characteristics: (1) exegetical accuracy with the admonition of James 3:1 in mind; (2) pastors as a target audience with the hope that parents, teachers, small-group leaders, and student ministers will also gain from the series; (3) inclusion of helpful illustrations and theologically-driven applications; and (4) the goal “to exalt Jesus from every book of the Bible.”
Not all volumes are published yet, but the 25 volumes currently available for Accordance cover 39 of 66 books of the Protestant canon, with the remaining volumes in the works. Earlier volumes are based on the Holman Christian Standard Bible, but installments released in 2017 (Proverbs, Isaiah, Daniel, Acts, and Hebrews) shift over to the newly updated Christian Standard Bible (the CCES is the first commentary series I've seen to use the 2017 CSB as its base).
Each volume in the CCES includes an introduction to the book covered with content broken into appropriate sections. Review questions can be found at the end of each section which would be suitable for a reader’s private reflection or to be discussed in a group setting.
The editors state that the CCEC “is not academic in nature. Our aim is to present a readable and pastoral style of commentaries.” From what I read, this is mostly true, but occasionally, some writers give attention to more scholarly interests such as literary or linguistic characteristics. Occasional references to original languages are almost always transliterated. The series, overall, will be accessible to most readers and is appropriate not just to those who are communicating the message of the Bible but also those who simply want to study for themselves.
Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary (25 Volumes)
List Price $374.75
Regular Price $199
Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: Old Testament (13 Volumes)
Regular Price $119
Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: New Testament (12 Volumes)
Regular Price $109
Individual Volumes Are Also Available
List Price $14.90
Regular Price $9.90
If you were only going to purchase one title on Acts…
Well, Craig S. Keener may indeed have written “the last and final word” on the Book of Acts for this generation. In print, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary by Keener comes in four volumes for a total of an incredible 4640 pages. This is not just the most complete commentary on Acts currently available, it is arguably the longest and most thorough commentary on Acts ever written. Available, beginning today, for the Accordance Bible Software Library, Keener's Acts commentary is now much easier to carry with you wherever you go!
Click/tap image above for a larger view of Acts: An Exegetical Commentary by Craig S. Keener in Accordance 12.
Craig S. Keener, Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, is known to Accordance users through his numerous works available for the Accordance Library, especially the IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, which is available in a number of our Collections. If you’ve ever consulted Keener’s Background Commentary (I have it near the top of my Commentaries folder in Accordance so it always shows up in the InfoPane), you know the meticulous attention he gives to the cultural, historical, and literary context of the ancient world as it bears upon the New Testament. Imagine that kind of detail, magnified many times over, applied to one book of the Bible. That is what Keener’s Acts commentary is and much more.
Consider the extent to which Keener has researched the Book of Acts. His introduction alone is 638 pages long (yes, page numbers are included in the Accordance edition). The “Works Cited” section at the end of the fourth volume is over 300 pages and divided into primary and secondary sources. Sorry, I did not bother to count the total number of sources used; however, I am very impressed to see the sheer range of sources consulted. In an age that often values the new over the old, Keener’s commentary on Acts overflows with ancient sources on nearly every single page. Besides the immense number of ties to the ancient world found in the Book of Acts to which Keener refers, he also covers every significant (and some that might be considered insignificant) treatment of Acts over the last two millennia. No historical debate or interpretational school of thought is ignored. His coverage of each chapter in Acts, subdivided into smaller, more accessible sections, is the most detailed I’ve ever seen. For instance, over 250 pages are dedicated to Acts 2 alone.
Acts: An Exegetical Commentary is the recipient of the 2016 Christianity Today Book Award in Biblical Studies. Writing for CT, Gary Burge said this of Keener’s commentary on Acts:
Keener is a scholar with gifts that come along once every century, and here we see them employed in full force. Words like encyclopedic, magisterial, and epic come to mind when you examine 4,000 carefully argued pages on every aspect of the Book of Acts. Nothing like this has ever been done—and it’s doubtful that anything like it will be done for a long time. Keener has a grasp of the ancient world like few scholars anywhere, but he also has a heart for the church and its mission.
Keener’s four volume commentary on Acts has been described by David deSilva as “a one-stop resource on the book of Acts and the hundreds of issues/questions that have been raised in its interpretation.” If you were only going to purchase one title on Acts, I can’t imagine not pointing to Keener’s work. It represents a lifetime of research, and with its breadth of coverage, it may just take a lifetime to read and study—and that’s a good thing.
Acts: An Exegetical Commentary
Regular Price $269
Biblical Studies vs. Theology. This was the conflict I was introduced to in seminary. I’m not certain how my professors got along in the faculty lounge, but there was always a subtle rivalry between the departments. My Old and New Testament professors suggested—albeit subtly—that theology, as a discipline (if there even was such a thing), was bogged down by centuries of dogma and disputes that obscured the "true" meaning of the Scriptures. All one really needed was the simple biblical text and nothing else. On the other hand, my theology professors insinuated that spending all one’s time in the Greek and Hebrew with concentration on syntax, textual criticism, and the like was woefully inadequate for understanding the biblical message. Honestly, I can't remember any attempt to bridge this gap in approaches to understanding the Bible.
In those formative years, my biblical profs held sway over me, and I developed a distrust for theology in comparison with biblical studies. I admit that I am sometimes still skeptical of systematic theology in particular, but I have grown to appreciate theology in general, especially when presented from a historical perspective.
This division in the disciplines was part of the prompting for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, which we are releasing today for the Accordance Bible Software Library. This recent series, still in process, seeks to recapture the role of dogma in understanding the Bible. In the series preface the writers draw upon the writings of the Early Church in their defense: “Irenaeus assumes that there is a body of apostolic doctrine sustained by a tradition of teaching in the church. This doctrine provides the clarifying principles that guide exegetical judgment toward a coherent overall reading of Scripture as a unified witness.” Further, writes series editor, R. R. Reno, “This series of biblical commentaries was born out of the conviction that dogma clarifies rather than obscures.”
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of Robert W. Jensen's Ezekiel volume of the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. NIV text available separately.
Unlike many commentary series, the Brazos Theological Commentary is written by theologians rather than biblical scholars in the traditional sense. The guiding theological framework for the perspective of the series is the Nicene Creed, which is arguably the most important doctrinal statement in the history of the church. Individual writers are not held to any particular translation to use as the base for the commentary, and they are not even restricted to format. Some commentators may write verse by verse, while others focus more on a passage at a time. The outlook of the series is purposefully ecumenical in scope. Thus, the Brazos series results in a very eclectic, but extremely readable exposition of the Scriptures.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of Jaroslav Pelikan's introduction to Acts in the Brazos Theological Commentary.
Consider this excerpt on Matthew 4 from well-known theologian Stanley Hauerwas. Note his use of biblical content, theology, and historical insight—all intertwined into a cohesive explorationof the temptation of Jesus:
The devil, therefore, thinking that Jesus’s fast might have weakened him, approaches Jesus just as he had approached Eve. Eating may be the devil’s first line of attack because eating gets to the heart of our dependency—a dependency we try to deny. He initiates a conversation with Jesus, as he had Eve, with what seems to be an innocent remark, but a remark designed to create doubt: “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Gen. 3:1). “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matt. 4:3). The trick, of course, that Eve did not recognize is to try to answer the devil on the devil’s own terms. Bonhoeffer observes that Eve’s disobedience began as soon as she assumed that she could answer the serpent’s question on God’s behalf, for the question was designed to suggest that she and Adam could go behind the word of God and establish for themselves what the word entailed. In short, the devil’s question invited them to assume that they were equal with God. Bonhoeffer notes, therefore, that the serpent is a representative of religion because his question is “religious,” assuming that the questioner knows more about God than can be known by a creature (1962, 66–69).
The devil exists as rage, but his rage does not cloud his cleverness. He is crafty. He therefore suggests to Jesus that, if he is the savior of Israel, he should then do what God had done for Israel in the wilderness, that is, provide food. Jesus, who will feed thousands with a few loaves of bread and a small number of fish, could turn the stones into bread. But Jesus refuses, quoting Deut. 8:3, which tells the story of how God had humbled Israel by letting her go hungry before sending manna. God says, I fed “you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by the very word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” God is indeed in the business of providing food, but Jesus rejects Satan’s proposal because Satan would have us believe that food and the word of God can be separated.
Christians believe that Jesus is the word that we now eat in his very body and blood in the Eucharist. But that gift, like the gift of manna to Israel, makes us vulnerable to the same temptations that the devil used to encourage Israel to abandon God’s law, to tempt Jesus, and to make the church unfaithful. The very people whom God has gifted with his body to be his witness for all people are constantly tempted to betray that which has been given them. We become, like the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees, leaders who assume that our task is to protect “the people” from the demands of the gospel. We simply do not believe that God’s word, God’s love, can sustain us.
Slowly over the years, I’ve been able to conclude that biblical studies should not and cannot be divorced from theology. The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible should not be seen as a replacement to more traditional biblical commentaries, but I would recommend this series as a necessary addition to them.
Brazos Theological Commentary (22 Volumes)
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No Accordance Library can be truly complete without the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary! Widely recognized as the flagship of American biblical scholarship, with a tradition of excellence and commitment to advancing biblical understanding in the 21st century, the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary, under the direction of General Editor John J. Collins, vigorously pursues the goal of bringing to a wide audience the most important new ideas, the latest research findings, and the clearest possible analysis of the Bible.
Decades in the making and now in a massive 90-volume collection, the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary is near completion in its coverage of the Old Testament, Intertestamental Books, and New Testament. Contributors come from Jewish, Catholic and Protestant backgrounds, but the project itself is not sponsored by any ecclesiastical organization and does not reflect the theological perspective of any particular faith tradition.
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the new Anchor commentary on Revelation by Craig R. Koester.
The Anchor Yale Bible is committed to producing commentaries in the tradition established half a century ago by the founders of the series, William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. It aims to present the best contemporary scholarship in a way that is accessible not only to scholars but also to the educated nonspecialist. Its approach is grounded in exact translation of the ancient languages and an appreciation of the historical and cultural context in which the biblical books were written supplemented by insights from modern methods, such as sociological and literary criticism.
With this release we are adding the following important volumes:
- Joshua 1-12 by Thomas B. Dozeman (2015)
- Judges 1-12 by Jack M. Sasson (2014) (currently in preparation; will be added to these modules in a free future update)
- Ruth by Jeremy Schipper (2016)
- Revelation by Craig R. Koester (2015)
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