Commentaries on Steroids

Commentaries on Steroids February 4, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 3.08.48 PMBiblical scholarship has exploded when it comes to commentaries. When I was a seminary student in the late 70s finding the top commentaries on NT books was a challenge because many were out of print — e.g., A.H. McNeile on Matthew or J.A.T. Robinson on Ephesians. Then came the avalanche of one series after another of commentaries both on the OT and the NT.

Then, and it seems to me we should point our finger at R.E. Brown, commentaries got big and bigger and too big. There is so much being said about each book and each passage and each word that commentaries quite simply got too big for too many. Thus, the preacher often does not have time to read through all of Brown or Markus Barth on Ephesians or all of D.A. Hagner on Matthew or — and don’t get started about Romans.

Standard commentaries got too big to be useful to those who probably need them the most: pastors. So someone like C.E.B. Cranfield wrote a technical two volume work on Romans but then produced a preacher-friendly “shorter commentary” and hundreds of pastors sighed. This has become a bit of an art form, this shortening of commentaries, and none has done it any better now than…

Greg K. Beale, whose commentary on Revelation is like so many, too long. (Yes, I think my James is a bit long for many preachers and my Colossians-Philemon will follow suit.) But Beale’s big NIGTC has been reduced:

Revelation: A Shorter Commentary (with David H. Campbell; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015 — first book on my desk with a 2015 imprint).

Thanks Greg and David. Pastors are grateful, and not a few professors, who will not want to agree on everything said in his commentary!

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