Question about pastoral and exegetical value of top commentaries

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Rokas | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, May 7 2018 1:33 PM

Dear Logos community,

some of the Hermeneia, Anchor Yale, ICC and Library commentaries are listed as top commentaries - could you please inform me on their usefulness for sermon preparation? I own all the other series. I am interested in the following, could you please comment on them:

- Leviticus, Anchor Yale (got his condensed commentary in Continental Series)

- 2 Samuel, Anchor Yale

- 1 & 2 Chronicles, OT Library

- Ecclesiastes, Anchor Yale

- Jeremiah, 3 vols, Anchor Yale (not on sale, but still interested)

- Lamentations, Anchor Yale

- Daniel, Hermeneia

- Hosea, Anchor Yale

- Amos, Hermeneia (by Paul Shalom)

- Zephaniah, Anchor Yale

- Haggai, Anchor Yale

- Zechariah, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

- Malachi, Anchor Yale

- Luke, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

- John, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

- Acts, 2 vols, ICC

- Romans, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

Big thanks!

Posts 9
Rokas | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 8 2018 12:47 PM

Anyone? :) 

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Paul Caneparo | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 8 2018 1:34 PM

Rokas:

Anyone? :) 

My personal take would be ''''.

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Paul Caneparo | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 8 2018 1:35 PM

Paul Caneparo:

Rokas:

Anyone? :) 

My personal take would be ''''.

I typed no, but spell check changed what I typed!

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Jacob Hantla | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 8 2018 3:08 PM

Rokas:

Dear Logos community,

some of the Hermeneia, Anchor Yale, ICC and Library commentaries are listed as top commentaries - could you please inform me on their usefulness for sermon preparation? I own all the other series. I am interested in the following, could you please comment on them:

- Leviticus, Anchor Yale (got his condensed commentary in Continental Series)

- 2 Samuel, Anchor Yale

- 1 & 2 Chronicles, OT Library

- Ecclesiastes, Anchor Yale

- Jeremiah, 3 vols, Anchor Yale (not on sale, but still interested)

- Lamentations, Anchor Yale

- Daniel, Hermeneia

- Hosea, Anchor Yale

- Amos, Hermeneia (by Paul Shalom)

- Zephaniah, Anchor Yale

- Haggai, Anchor Yale

- Zechariah, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

- Malachi, Anchor Yale

- Luke, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

- John, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

- Acts, 2 vols, ICC

- Romans, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

Big thanks!

None of these will focus on pastoral aspect. There will be exegetical value, especially to the ICC volume.

Anchor Yale, in my experience (which is mostly limited to Romans) deal with the text theologically rather than exegetically, and is not that helpful for what it seems you may be aiming at. I've attached a screenshot of a random Romans to help you see what I'm referring to. 

Jacob Hantla
Pastor/Elder, Grace Bible Church
gbcaz.org

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Jacob Hantla | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 8 2018 3:11 PM

If you don't already have it, Rosscup's Commentaries for BIblical Expositors is quite helpful in evaluating potential commentary purchases. https://www.logos.com/product/6259/commentaries-for-biblical-expositors

DA Carson's NT Commentary Survey is also helpful, but not specifically aiming at pastoral/expositional goal: https://www.logos.com/product/151680/new-testament-commentary-survey-7th-ed 

Jacob Hantla
Pastor/Elder, Grace Bible Church
gbcaz.org

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 8 2018 3:17 PM

Rokas:
some of the Hermeneia, Anchor Yale, ICC and Library commentaries are listed as top commentaries - could you please inform me on their usefulness for sermon preparation?

It rather depends on your theological persuasion. As an evangelical I rarely find the Anchor or Hermeneia series useful for preaching, especially in the OT. The ICC commentaries on Acts are pretty good though, and Fitzmeyer on Romans isn't bad.

Posts 153
Clifford B. Kvidahl | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 8 2018 3:25 PM

Rokas:

- Leviticus, Anchor Yale (got his condensed commentary in Continental Series)

- Luke, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

- John, 2 vols, Anchor Yale

- Acts, 2 vols, ICC

- Romans, Anchor Yale

I would say these are worth having. They are excellent in their critical engagement with the text and also quite good on matters of background.

Cliff

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Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 9 2018 6:23 AM

Mark Barnes:

Rokas:
some of the Hermeneia, Anchor Yale, ICC and Library commentaries are listed as top commentaries - could you please inform me on their usefulness for sermon preparation?

It rather depends on your theological persuasion. As an evangelical I rarely find the Anchor or Hermeneia series useful for preaching, especially in the OT. The ICC commentaries on Acts are pretty good though, and Fitzmeyer on Romans isn't bad.

Mark

I know this post is old but I was hoping you could expand on your comment on the Hermeneia series. I'm trying to figure out if for an Evangelical the series is worth it as it is quite cheap in Platinum. I already own series like pntc, nac, Tyndale, nicot/nt, nivac, wiersbe and MacArthur. Thank you in advance

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 9 2018 6:56 AM

Mattillo:
I know this post is old but I was hoping you could expand on your comment on the Hermeneia series. I'm trying to figure out if for an Evangelical the series is worth it as it is quite cheap in Platinum. I already own series like pntc, nac, Tyndale, nicot/nt, nivac, wiersbe and MacArthur. Thank you in advance

I think it depends on what you're looking for. Some of the Hermenia series can be useful academically (although many of them are dated now), but I've never found them beneficial for preaching. Personally, I would find significantly more value in BECNT, ZECNT, NICNT, NIGTC, and even in WBC than in Hermenia.

That said, Achtemeier's volume on 1 Peter is Carson's "Best Buy" ("with some discretion"!), and he rates Attridge on Hebrews, Betz on Galatians, Lohse on Colossians/Philemon too.

His comments on the series as a whole are:

Hermeneia (SCM/Fortress) is a full-scale critical commentary series that devotes considerable attention to parallel texts. Unlike the ICC, allowance is made for readers without a classical education by providing translations (usually from the Loeb edition) of cited Greek and Latin authors. Several of the volumes are translations of German works, and initially this included some extremely dated books (e.g., Bultmann on the Johannine Epistles), but these are being replaced (in this instance by a major commentary written by Strecker). Haenchen on John, however, should have been put out to pasture long ago. “Parallelomania” (to use Samuel Sandmel’s famous expression for a mania for adducing doubtful extrabiblical “parallels” that end up domesticating the text instead of letting the text speak for itself) and a naive appeal to history-of-religions assumptions frequently surface in the volumes of this series, but the series remains invaluable for the serious exegete and expositor. A few volumes are outstanding (e.g., Attridge on Heb.).

And on the Continental Commentary series:

The Continental Commentary (Fortress) is a series of commentaries on the entire Bible, translated from major liberal scholarly entries originally published in Europe, mostly in German. For example, there are three volumes on Genesis by Claus Westermann, and three on Isaiah by Hans Wildberger. So far, few have appeared on the New Testament. They are noted below. Granted the parameters of the series, some of the choices befuddle expectations, because, for instance, they are astonishingly brief (e.g., see Lührmann on Gal.).

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David Staveley | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 9 2018 8:53 AM

Mattillo:

Mark Barnes:

Rokas:
some of the Hermeneia, Anchor Yale, ICC and Library commentaries are listed as top commentaries - could you please inform me on their usefulness for sermon preparation?

It rather depends on your theological persuasion. As an evangelical I rarely find the Anchor or Hermeneia series useful for preaching, especially in the OT. The ICC commentaries on Acts are pretty good though, and Fitzmeyer on Romans isn't bad.

Mark

I know this post is old but I was hoping you could expand on your comment on the Hermeneia series. I'm trying to figure out if for an Evangelical the series is worth it as it is quite cheap in Platinum. I already own series like pntc, nac, Tyndale, nicot/nt, nivac, wiersbe and MacArthur. Thank you in advance

I have all the Hermeneia commentaries and can tell you that they are all Neo-Evangelical: that is, they embrace modern critical study and see value in it, rather than dig their heels in and resist it as if it is an enemy of faith. I have not found any wacky, bonkers theology in any of them. 

If you want to see someone exegete a biblical book and do it in dialog with all the important secondary literature you wont find a better series. It's one major weakness, however, is that all of the biblical books are studied in a vacuum - as stand-alone pieces of literature, without any attempt to show how each book relates to the other books of the bible. Thus, there is very little attempt at theology in them. It is entirely an historical-critical pursuit. This leaves the conclusions each scholar makes seem dry, and arid. What they say doesn't always relate to our living faith and theology, and you have to work hard at getting spiritual truth out of them. 

Dr David Staveley Professor of New Testament. Specializing in the Pauline Epistles, Apocalyptic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 9 2018 12:54 PM

David Staveley:

... Thus, there is very little attempt at theology in them. It is entirely an historical-critical pursuit. ... 

I think that's what people are saying when they suggest most Evangelicals won't find these commentaries especially helpful for preaching purposes. For Evangelicals, preaching is an inherently theological pursuit - we're proclaiming the Word of God.  The rest is interesting and often useful, but if it doesn't ultimately support the theological enterprise, it's not going to be helpful in our preaching.

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 10 2018 1:00 AM

David Staveley:
I have not found any wacky, bonkers theology in any of them. 

In fact, you haven't found any theology in them Smile

David Staveley:
I have all the Hermeneia commentaries and can tell you that they are all Neo-Evangelical: that is, they embrace modern critical study and see value in it, rather than dig their heels in and resist it as if it is an enemy of faith.

I'm sorry, but I don't agree with that statement at all. (I agree mostly with your definition of neo-evangelical, but not that these commentaries are neo-evangelical.) If you're trying to say that these commentaries are useful for neo-evangelicals, that's one thing, but these commentaries are not coming from a neo-evangelical stable. Far from it.

The basic perspective of the series is the mid-to-late 20th century European-style of doing biblical studies, with an emphasis on history-of religions and historical-criticism. One of the biggest weaknesses of this approach (in the NT) is an over-reliance on Graeco-Roman 'parallels', usually at the expense of seeing Jewish roots. This takes the series in completely the opposite direction to genuine neo-evangelicals like N. T. Wright.

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 10 2018 1:08 AM

EastTN:
I think that's what people are saying when they suggest most Evangelicals won't find these commentaries especially helpful for preaching purposes. For Evangelicals, preaching is an inherently theological pursuit - we're proclaiming the Word of God.  The rest is interesting and often useful, but if it doesn't ultimately support the theological enterprise, it's not going to be helpful in our preaching.

Yes — or at least, it's helpful only for background, or (in some cases) to sort out some knotty Greek problem. Even then, because most of the Hermeneia series is relatively old, the best insights have already been mined and cited in the other technical commentaries.

There's also the issue of time. I have to prepare three sermons every week, which means I get only two days for each sermon. I simply don't have time to read ten technical commentaries before every one, so naturally I'm going to focus on those commentaries which are most helpful. When I'm studying academically, I may be looking at the same passage for months, which allows me a much broader approach.

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David Staveley | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 10 2018 1:51 AM

EastTN:

David Staveley:

... Thus, there is very little attempt at theology in them. It is entirely an historical-critical pursuit. ... 

I think that's what people are saying when they suggest most Evangelicals won't find these commentaries especially helpful for preaching purposes. For Evangelicals, preaching is an inherently theological pursuit - we're proclaiming the Word of God.  The rest is interesting and often useful, but if it doesn't ultimately support the theological enterprise, it's not going to be helpful in our preaching.

I think the problem with a lot of commentaries is that a lot of the publishers tell the authors to steer clear of theology, so that the reputation of the series isn't dragged into the mud when the theology gets a reputation for being a bit iffy (that's a UK turn of phrase which basically means "dodgy"). Sticking stolidly to the historical-critical is playing it safe as much as it is an attempt to exegete the text.

Then there is the attendant problem of having all kinds of diverse scholars making their own unique contribution to the series, all with a slightly different (and in some cases not slightly different but in fact radically different) understanding of the overall theology of the bible. For example, if John Collins had attempted to impart his understanding of the theology of the Hebrew Scriptures in his commentary on Daniel, it would have clashed with several of the other contributors outlook. Now that's fine in and of itself, but if they all did it, there would be a myriad of theologies all clashing with each other. That isn't helpful to the students, and so is deliberately avoided. 

The only commentary series I have witnessed making an attempt at developing an overall theology of the biblical books and making it work are those ones which were all written by one scholar. Alford comes to mind for the New Testament, and Delitzsch for the Hebrew Scriptures. 

As for what to do with historical-critical commentaries and making them relevant for today's Church, I would point out that the New Testament writers practised a Christian form of pesher interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures, where the historical context in which the biblical books were originally fermented is irrelevant to their meaning for today. What the author of the biblical book had in mind when he penned that book is not important for the "hidden" meaning of the text. This "hidden" meaning, existing below the surface meaning, can only be unlocked by God when the time is right. Christians, using this pesher interpretation, can access a new message from the old texts, and that message is wholly Christological. As Martin Pickup has pointed out: 

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, evangelical scholars discussed extensively the NT’s use of the OT, paying special attention to the fact that the NT sometimes interprets OT passages in ways that depart significantly from the apparent meaning of those passages in their original context. Many OT verses that are cited as eschatological prophecies of Jesus Christ, when read in their original context do not appear to have been speaking of the eschaton or the Messiah at all. (JETS 51/2)

There has recently been a whole raft of studies on the pesher method used in the New Testament, and it essentially confirms for us what we already knew from the Pesherim (i.e.those texts from the Dead Sea community that make up their unique bible commentaries) - that the grammatical-historical meaning of the text was of little importance to them. What counted for them was the "hidden", under-the-text meaning, which is unlocked with special exegetical techniques (pace the Full Human Intent School). If you learn these techniques today (often erroneously referred to as "midrashic" techniques), you can unlock a whole new world of meaning for today's Church. God can speak afresh for today through dry dusty old texts, which have long past their sell-by date. And when we repeat that exercise, we are standing directly in the tradition of the New Testament writers themselves. 

Dr David Staveley Professor of New Testament. Specializing in the Pauline Epistles, Apocalyptic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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tomatodew20 | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 10 2018 1:53 AM

Thankเล่นไพ่:d

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 10 2018 1:55 AM

EastTN:
we're proclaiming the Word of God

 

Interesting difference in terminology - in the Catholic tradition "proclaiming the Word of God" is the reading of Scripture in a liturgical context. Preaching is "breaking open the Word" which follows the proclamation.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 10 2018 2:16 AM

David Staveley:
As for what to do with historical-critical commentaries and making them relevant for today's Church, I would point out that the New Testament writers practised a Christian form of pesher interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures, where the historical context in which the biblical books were originally fermented is irrelevant to their meaning for today. What the author of the biblical book had in mind when he penned that book is not important for the "hidden" meaning of the text. This "hidden" meaning, existing below the surface meaning, can only be unlocked by God when the time is right. Christians, using this pesher interpretation, can access a new message from the old texts, and that message is wholly Christological.

The important phrase there is "a Christian form of pesher". Whilst the methodology of the NT writers regarding the Hebrew Bible can seem quite similar to that, for example, of the Qumran sect, the results are entirely different.

The difference (in large measure, at least) is that the NT writers believed that Jesus of Nazareth had fulfilled with OT promises. He revealed what had remained hidden. I'm not sure anyone is sure exactly what guided the exegesis at Qumran, but it was obviously something quite different, and therefore went in a different direction.

But none of that is to say that "the historical context in which the biblical books were originally fermented is irrelevant to their meaning for today". Do you really believe that Paul or Luke would agree with that statement? For me at least (and I'm hardly alone), it's impossible to think of them doing so, especially when (for example) you consider how seriously Paul took the Exodus, and how much weight he places on the historicity of the recent events surrounding Jesus. Whatever else Paul and Luke were, they were both historians.

I think there's one main reason why some NT scholars to argue that Paul/Luke and others ignore the historical context of the OT (I'm not suggesting this is why you have ended up where you have, but looking more broadly). Generally, contemporary scholars don't accept the principle of the dual authorship of scripture, at least in their academic writings. When this principle is held, the idea of what the author of a biblical book had in mind changes dramatically. The whole category shifts. I'm not convinced we'll ever understand what the NT writers were 'really' doing, until we're willing to try and think as they thought. Failing to do this means contemporary scholars have often (inadvertently?) imposed their own methodology and presuppositions on the NT writers, and as a result simply haven't understand the NT writers' approach. Thankfully, this is happening increasingly in academia, thanks to the renewed interest in Jewish writings and beliefs and the intertestamental period, although I still think we've a long way to go.

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Mike Pettit | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 10 2018 4:32 AM

What an interesting discussion !!!

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David Staveley | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 10 2018 7:33 AM

Mark Barnes:

David Staveley:
As for what to do with historical-critical commentaries and making them relevant for today's Church, I would point out that the New Testament writers practised a Christian form of pesher interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures, where the historical context in which the biblical books were originally fermented is irrelevant to their meaning for today. What the author of the biblical book had in mind when he penned that book is not important for the "hidden" meaning of the text. This "hidden" meaning, existing below the surface meaning, can only be unlocked by God when the time is right. Christians, using this pesher interpretation, can access a new message from the old texts, and that message is wholly Christological.

The important phrase there is "a Christian form of pesher". Whilst the methodology of the NT writers regarding the Hebrew Bible can seem quite similar to that, for example, of the Qumran sect, the results are entirely different.

The difference (in large measure, at least) is that the NT writers believed that Jesus of Nazareth had fulfilled with OT promises. He revealed what had remained hidden. I'm not sure anyone is sure exactly what guided the exegesis at Qumran, but it was obviously something quite different, and therefore went in a different direction.

Couldn’t agree more. So, your point is what precisely?

But none of that is to say that "the historical context in which the biblical books were originally fermented is irrelevant to their meaning for today". Do you really believe that Paul or Luke would agree with that statement? For me at least (and I'm hardly alone), it's impossible to think of them doing so, especially when (for example) you consider how seriously Paul took the Exodus, and how much weight he places on the historicity of the recent events surrounding Jesus. Whatever else Paul and Luke were, they were both historians.

You’ve misunderstood what I’ve said. I did not say the New Testament writers thought the history portrayed in the Hebrew Scriptures was irrelevant. I said they thought that ancient context was irrelevant for understanding the present times. Of course they upheld their ancestral history and traditions as found in scripture. That goes without saying. That history and those traditions testify to God’s plan to save the world through Messiah Jesus. But with the revelation of the Son of God, those former things have been surpassed. As Paul says: “What was once glorious has no glory now in comparison to the glory that surpasses it” (2 Corinthians 3.10). The New Testament writers were now focused on the events which would transpire in the fullness of time, and on that subject, the Hebrew Scriptures according to their "plain" sense say very little. It is only the Christological pesher interpretation which unlocks and reveals what they do have to say on the subject.

I think there's one main reason why some NT scholars to argue that Paul/Luke and others ignore the historical context of the OT (I'm not suggesting this is why you have ended up where you have, but looking more broadly). Generally, contemporary scholars don't accept the principle of the dual authorship of scripture, at least in their academic writings. When this principle is held, the idea of what the author of a biblical book had in mind changes dramatically. The whole category shifts. I'm not convinced we'll ever understand what the NT writers were 'really' doing, until we're willing to try and think as they thought. Failing to do this means contemporary scholars have often (inadvertently?) imposed their own methodology and presuppositions on the NT writers, and as a result simply haven't understand the NT writers' approach. Thankfully, this is happening increasingly in academia, thanks to the renewed interest in Jewish writings and beliefs and the intertestamental period, although I still think we've a long way to go.

I adhere to a school of thinking which is called the Jewish Hermentics School. One of its key objectives is to get people to realise that the writers of the New Testament thought and acted just like their fellow Jews. In particular, that their exegetical methods were similar or even in some cases, identical to the practice of midrash (although the word is anachronistic in the first centry) and pesher, and that we cannot understand the New Testament if we divorce it from that context. So, I fully endorse your views. Indeed, I wish more people would see it that way.

Dr David Staveley Professor of New Testament. Specializing in the Pauline Epistles, Apocalyptic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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