Gordon Fee is not someone that I expect that I need to introduce to most of my readers. His work on the Holy Spirit, textual criticism (and NT exegesis in general), Philippians, 1 Corinthians, the Pastoral Epistles, and ecclesiology is well-known. Most recently, he penned a mammoth volume on Paul’s Christology, a work that will likely be a standard reference tool on that subject for years to come.
We are fortunate to have a new commentary on Galatians (Pentecostal Commentary series; Deo publishing, 2007) from Fee. This epistle gives us depth of insight into the apostleship of Paul, the Jew-Gentile issues, his relationship with Jerusalem/Peter/James, and, of course, the Holy Spirit and Christian ethic. What a delight to have Fee’s perspective on such matters.
First – about the type of commentary. It is in a series that is by pentecostals and speaks into the pentecostal community. Fee is insistent, though, that his is not a ‘Pentecostal commentary’, but, rather, it is an exegetical commentary written by a NT scholar who happens to be a pentecostal. He does not feel the need to support particular pentecostal doctrines. In fact, when he does address pentecostals directly, his comments are more critical (as a fellow pentecostal) rather than sycophantic.
The format and style of the commentary immediately demonstrates that it is not of the same depth and critical-engagement as the ICC, Anchor, or NIGTC. He spends no more than 10 pages on the ‘introduction’ (date/place/purpose/themes). The commentary proper involves a standard pericope-by-pericope discussion followed by a ‘reflection’ (on theological issues and applications) and ‘response’ (which directly applies the teaching to the reader with penetrating questions and other thoughts).Again, this is not a place to turn to for detailed comment or for an extensive bibliography. On the other hand, it is helpful when someone has a short bibliography because he (or she) divulges the most salient books and articles. It is worth reproducing here what books Fee consulted most often for Galatians:
Barclay, J.M. G. Obeying the Truth (1988)
Betz, H.D. Galatians (Hermeneia; 1979)
Bruce, F.F. Galatians (NIGTC; 1982)
Burton, E.D. Galatians (ICC; 1921)
Dunn, J.D.G. Galatians (BNTC; 1993)
Hansen, G.W. Galatians (IVPNT; 1994)
Lightfoot, J.B. Galatians (1865)
Longenecker, R.N. Galatians (WBC 1990)
Martyn, J.L. Galatians (AB; 1997)
Matera, F. Galatians (SP; 1992)
Witherington, B. Grace in Galatia (1998)
In the next segment of this review I will discuss the actual content of the commentary and Fee’s contributions to the various exegetical enigmas in Galatians.