If you’re like me, you may not recognize many of the authors you routinely read. This isn’t always the case, but I think it might be in biblical studies more than other genres. Unless the author is a famous pastor or one of your personal professors, you might not recognize him in a police lineup (and hopefully you’d never have to, “Yes, officer, that’s Douglas Moo there second from the left”)
So, to the right here (or above if you’re in RSS) is Clinton Arnold, who happens to be the general editor of the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Since I actually have all of the currently published titles in this series up for review, I thought I’d introduce to them in a separate post and then save space commenting on specific titles in their own posts.
If you’re like me (this post it putting a lot weight on that similarity) then you may wonder why we need another commentary series. ZECNT isn’t particularly new since the first title was published in 2008. But as far as commentary series go, that is relatively new, and with 3 titles slated to be published later this year, it’s a series that is growing rapidly.
Like a good series editor, Arnold wrote the series introduction that will show up in every published title. Tomorrow, we’ll look at James in this series, but first, here’s 7 reasons you might like this particular series either as a new go to series or as a supplement to your existing library (and on building that library, get ready for next Thursday’s post).
Greek, but not too Greek
This series is for you if, “you have taken Greek and would like a commentary that helps you apply what you have learned without assuming you are a well-trained scholar.” The translation of the Greek text is presented in textual layouts at the beginning of each section. You are also given an exegetical outline in each section, and Greek words are all translated. Arnold says “If your Greek is rusty (or even somewhat limited), don’t be too concerned,” but “those who will benefit most from this commentary will have had the equivalent of two years of Greek in college or seminary.”
If you find it “useful to see a concise, one- or two- senetence statement of what the commentator thinks the main point of each passage is,” then this series has you covered. At the beginning of each section there is heading titled “Main Idea” that presents just that.
If “you would like help interpreting the words of Scripture without getting bogged down in scholarly issues that seem irrelevant to the life of the church,” then you’ll appreciate the focus of this series. In many ways, it is laid out the way we were trained to do exegetical work in seminary, culminating in application. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a wrestling match with the text, it just means that bout only goes so many rounds before moving on. It also means that authors of the individual titles have to be particular in the textual issues they dig into.
Now, this is still a commentary, so we’re not talking pictures here. But, if “you would like to see a visual representation (a graphical display) of the flow of thought of each passage,” then this series has just that.
Expert Evangelical Navigation
In addition to keeping a practical focus aimed at building the up the body, this series provides “expert guidance from solid evangelical scholars who set out to explain the meaning of the original text in the clearest way possible.” This helps readers “navigate through the main interpretive issues,” among the myriad of issues that could be pursued.
Up-to-date Textual Analysis
This expert navigation is achieved in part by authors who are up-to-date in their particular expertise. The benefit to you is “the results of the latest and best scholarly studies and historical information that helps to illuminate the meaning of the text.” In this sense for some pastors, these titles may serve as a one-stop commentary to supplement their own exegetical work. For others, these titles will help continue the discussion from earlier respected commentaries. As I’ll mention tomorrow, the James commentary interacted extensively with both of the top 2 commentaries from bestcommentaries.com.
Relevant Theological Applicaitons
Finally, these commentaries give strong attention to the theology of the book they are commenting on. This is done both in the conclusion to each section as well as a concluding section of the entire book dedicated to presenting the theological themes. If “you would find it useful to see a brief summary of the key theological insights that can be gleaned from each passage and some discussion of the relevance of these for Christians today” then ZECNT has you covered.
If these 7 reasons are not what you’re looking for in a biblical commentary, then ZECNT is probably not for you. I would imagine though, if you’re like me (the weight gets heavier) then this commentary series is a welcome addition to your library and will serve intellectual and pastoral needs alike.
Now, if only they had one of these in the works for the Old Testament…