Understanding the bible commentary... Any good?

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This post has 18 Replies | 4 Followers

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Mattillo | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Dec 26 2015 5:35 AM
I was curious if anyone is familiar with the above commentary currently on sale. Has anyone found it useful or not useful?
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John Fidel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 6:52 AM

The series is rebranded and used to be the new international bible commentary. I consider it an intermediate level commentary that is more evangelical than critical. There are a few really good volumes, and then mostly average, in my opinion. The ones I picked up are Deut, 1 & 2 Kings, Josha and the Pastoral Epistles. I always look for good OT commentaries and I enjoy Fee who wrote the Pastoral Epistles.

I find it compares with Tyndale and Zondervan Expository Bible Commentaries, both of which are better overall as a series. My opinion is, if you do not have it, save your money and buy Tyndale. If you have Tyndale, then read a few reviews and pick the volumes that you find fill out your library best.

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Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 6:56 AM

Thank you sir. This helps me a lot

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David J. Wilson | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 8:30 AM

Have to agree with John: the Deut, 1 & 2 Kings volumes are rated highly at BestCommentaries.com Smile

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Kenute P. Curry | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 9:05 AM

I picked up 7 of the UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE COMMENTARIES which seem to be very good commentaries. If they are EVANGELICAL that is a plus for me. I love Evangelical resources.

The  7 purchased were:

Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Luke, Revelation.

Posts 4565
Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 9:26 AM

Let me know what you think of those Ken. I grabbed duet, kings and job as they had high ratings

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Myke Harbuck | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 9:32 AM

Mattillo:
I was curious if anyone is familiar with the above commentary currently on sale. Has anyone found it useful or not useful?

They are pretty solid. I enjoyed the one on Romans. This volume, like the rest, has "Additional Notes" throughout. Here is an example: 

A word count of “righteous” in Romans is illuminating: the verb “to make righteous” occurs eleven times before chapter 6, and only three times afterwards; the adjective “righteous” (or “just”) occurs six times before chapter 6, and once afterwards; the noun “righteousness” (or “justification”) occurs seventeen times before chapter 6, and (outside chapters 9–11 where the problem of the righteousness of Jews is again considered) only seven times afterwards.

One of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s most valuable contributions to theology was his conviction that one cannot separate justification and sanctification, faith and obedience, and still be faithful to the gospel. “The following two propositions hold good and are equally true: only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes. It is quite unbiblical to hold the first proposition without the second” (Bonhoeffer’s emphasis; The Cost of Discipleship, trans. R. H. Fuller [New York: Macmillan, 1966], p. 69).

James R. Edwards, Romans, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 166.

And here is an excerpt from the commentary text on Romans 7:7. 

§17 The Power of Sin Within (Rom. 7:7–25)

We noted in section 14 that chapters 6–7 are something of a theological entrenchment on Paul’s part designed to defend his gospel against three objections. In 6:1–14 he contended against a misunderstanding of 5:20 (“where sin increased, grace increased all the more”), which would argue that if grace increases with sin, why not sin all the more? In 6:15–7:6 he answered a second objection that freedom from the law leads to moral anarchy. Now in the present section (7:7–25) we hear his final defense, in which he endeavors to clarify the exact relation between the law and sin, and, in particular, to dispel the idea that if the law reveals and increases sin then law itself must be evil.

With the choice of the first person singular in verse 7 and the present tense after verse 13, Paul establishes a more personal and immediate bond with his readers than anywhere else in this or in his other epistles. Why does Paul interject himself so dramatically here? And from what perspective is he writing? Is chapter 7 a flashback to Paul’s pre-conversion experience, or is it a present portrayal of the Christian’s ongoing struggle against sin? At no point in Romans do the fevers of interpreters reach a higher pitch. Solid arguments have been advanced in monographs or lengthy excurses for each view, and it is quite impossible to cinch the argument either way. We can do no more than present the general arguments for each position and choose the most reasonable path—which in this instance is the least unsatisfactory path—over the terrain.

Twentieth-century scholarship has tended toward the view that verses 7–25 describe Paul’s pre-Christian experience. The chief supporting argument contends that if the Christian—including Paul—has died to sin and now lives a new life in Christ (6:22; 7:4; 2 Cor. 5:17), then how can Paul consider himself “sold as a slave to sin” (v. 14), or “a prisoner of the law” (v. 23) and exclaim, “What a wretched man I am!” (v. 24)? Nowhere else do we hear an outcry of such frustration from the Christian. Verses 7–25 must therefore be a lament, it is asserted, of Paul’s condition before his conversion on the road to Damascus.

Against this view there is a long tradition of interpretation, beginning with the church fathers (in particular Augustine), and continuing to the Reformers and a number of modern scholars, which sees Romans 7 not as a pre-Christian elegy but as a description of the believer’s experience. This view, I believe, in the end provides the more plausible understanding of chapter 7 and of its place in the epistle.

We begin our defense of this judgment with the place of Romans 7 in the structure of the epistle as a whole. In 1:16–17 Paul proclaims the gospel of salvation through faith. He then introduces the guilt of humanity in 1:18–3:20, but only after he has announced the good news of God’s love and forgiveness in the cross. Thereupon he expounds the gospel (3:21–31), defines the meaning of faith (ch. 4), and moves to the life of faith (chs. 5–8). If chapter 7 is a pre-conversion reflection, then it is a digression from an otherwise consistent and purposeful development of the epistle thus far, the whole of which is patterned after Habakkuk 2:4: “The one who is righteous [chs. 1–3] by faith [chs. 4–11] will live [chs. 12–15].” On the other hand, if chapter 7 is descriptive of the believer’s experience it is entirely consonant with the development of the epistle.

Internal arguments in chapter 7 argue in a similar vein. The unusual present tense in verses 14ff. certainly appears to represent Paul’s mind at the time of writing Romans, rather than prior to his conversion. Moreover, nowhere in Paul’s pre-conversion experience do we find, as we do here, a dirge of such desperation. A review of his pre-conversion life, in fact, reveals not frustration and struggle, but confidence (“as for legalistic righteousness, faultless,” Phil. 3:4–6). Paul had boasted of fulfilling the law as a Pharisaic Jew (Gal. 1:14). Any number of pious Jews could (and did) make such claims, which we might expect from those who had measured their lives according to a law of deeds as opposed to a law of love that examined intentions. The real battle with sin, of course, begins when an individual is transferred by faith from the authority of Adam to Christ. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body,” said Paul in this context (6:12). It is true, as those who argue for a pre-Christian context of Romans 7 maintain, that 7:14 (“sold as a slave to sin”) is a mystifying utterance from the mouth of a Christian. But there is no need to get cramps over it, as do a number of commentators. It is a metaphor, dramatic to be sure, but still a metaphor of the ongoing battle with sin in the process of sanctification. The darkness and desperation of chapter 7 may strike us as untypical of the Christian Paul, but his words are echoed, to some extent at least, elsewhere in Romans and Galatians. The struggle between the first Adam and the last Adam as diagrammed earlier (see p. 162) and the tug-of-war between flesh and Spirit in Galatians 5:16–18 are not dissimilar. “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Gal. 5:17). The final confession of chapter 7, “In my mind Idea am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (7:25) is reminiscent of 6:17–20. And last but not least is the evidence of Romans 8:18–20. There Paul projects the “present sufferings” of his own experience onto a cosmic canvas of the “creation [which] was subjected to frustration,” and “bondage to decay,” only after which will dawn the final liberation of “the glorious freedom of the children of God” (8:21).

It is not without reason, therefore, that we argue for a post-conversion understanding of chapter 7. Paul’s use of the first person singular flows from his own struggle of becoming righteous after having been made righteous. It is his own experience, but it is not only his experience. Chapter 7 is an apt illustration of the adage that what is truly individual is truly universal. Who can deny that the voice of the apostle echoes in the experience of all Christians and in their frustration at the persistence of sin? “The world is too much with us,” said Wordsworth, and this is no less true for Christians. Indeed, at times it seems to be more so. If believers appear as raw recruits, offering but miserable resistance to the veteran forces within them and against them, then they must seize the manifest grace of God as the only antidote to their own wretchedness.

 James R. Edwards, Romans, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 184–186.

Myke Harbuck
Lead Pastor, www.ByronCity.Church
Adjunct Professor, Georgia Military College

Posts 8140
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 10:21 AM

I grabbed the entire OT and NT set for $99 bucks last year during their Black Friday sale.  Quite frankly, I didn't think they were going to offer it at a low price for both OT and NT.  If you think about it, $170 ish is still less than $200 for both OT and NT set, so don't cherry pick 'em.  If you can afford it, buy them all.  Remember, Bestcommentaries website is very subjective too, is not the final authority.  I've found some pretty good food for thought and other comments on commentaries that are rated very low and some people never take advantage of them because the commentary where they were found was not rated high.  Again, if you can afford it, get the entire series.

DAL

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 10:30 AM

It was $198 for the set? If so, it's cheaper now!

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Erwin Stull, Sr. | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 10:47 AM

I picked up "John", primarily because I am taking the free DTS course on John and wanted some more commentaries to compare with, otherwise I probably would have picked Ephesians, Luke, or Acts (in which I am currently studying).

So far, I like them.

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 12:03 PM

Mattillo:
I was curious if anyone is familiar with the above commentary currently on sale. Has anyone found it useful or not useful?

I have two volumes—Mark and Isaiah—and have found both to be very shallow. I will look again at the ones John Fidel recommended because I respect his judgment.

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Otis Gouty | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 12:26 PM

I have and I regularly use the UBS, but I do not accept the views expressed in Romans 7. I much prefer Moo in the NICNT, Carson in Pillar, and the Cornerstone BC.

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Kenute P. Curry | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 12:38 PM

I agree with you Myke Harbuck Although I do read reviews and ratings, I do not subject myself to them. I let the Holy Spirit lead me on what to purchase; and if He prompts me to buy certain books or commentaries, that is what I do.

Posts 8140
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 1:11 PM

Lee:

It was $198 for the set? If so, it's cheaper now!

No, both sets; i.e., all 36 volumes were $99.00  last year - so, no, is not cheaper right now,   But still cheap enough to make it a good deal.

DAL

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 1:45 PM

I find most of the OT volumes of UTB better than the Tyndale ones. The NT ones have some good ones but most of them are mediocre but generally worth a glance.

-dan

Posts 4565
Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 1:48 PM

Erwin... Where did you find that free course on john if I might ask

Posts 4565
Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 1:49 PM

Otis... What do you think of the cornerstone commentators?

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Otis Gouty | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 3:13 PM

I have all of the available Cornerstone Commentaries and have enjoyed each one. They are not as exegetical as I would like, but the commentary is good. For the classes I teach I typically provide references from several Commentaries to illustrate harmony and also variations in patterns of thought. For me it is very important to be as much "on the money" with scripture as I can be. This is because I advocate the inerrant, infallibility of the original manuscripts.

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Erwin Stull, Sr. | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 26 2015 6:45 PM

Mattillo:

Erwin... Where did you find that free course on john if I might ask

I think I received an email, but I also have seen it on Facebook. Here is a link.

http://courses.dts.edu/register/gospel-of-john-registration/

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