Some Recent New Books

I have recently acquired some just-published commentaries. Leithart on Kings, Williamson on Isaiah 1-5, Davids on 2 Peter-Jude, Lincoln on John, and Klein on 1 Chronicles.

Leithart disappoints me the most, though I have not read the work itself. Bibliographically, it is strangely lacking. He shows no knowledge of Cogan/Tadmor in the Anchor Bible, Devries in WBC, Montgomery/Gehman in ICC, Fritz in CC, Long in FOTL, House in NAC, Seow in NIB, Ellsworth in Welwyn, and does not even quote Gray (OTL) once, though he is listed in the bibliography. These are some of the regular standards in the literature. Now, if there were a massive number of commentaries available on Kings (such as is available on Romans or John), this might be excusable. One cannot read everything. However, Kings is notoriously lacking in solid exegetical material. One needs to make use of everything that is available. He listed some of the weaknesses of the commentary on pp. 13-14, but neglected to mention the bibliographical weaknesses. I still hope to derive profit from this work, but that is a lot of holes. I was also hoping for something a bit lengthier. 304 pages, including the indices, is not a very long commentary, when one considers that he is taking in both 1 and 2 Kings.

Bibliographically better is Davids on 2 Peter/Jude. Much better. He seems to have read everything of importance. Unfortunately, he comes down agnostic on the issue of the authorship of 2 Peter. He gives too much to Bauckham when he says that Bauckham’s position on authorship (that it is a pseudonymous author) is fully compatible with orthodoxy on Scripture. The letter claims to be from Peter. It’s one thing if the writing is anonymous (like Hebrews is, technically). It is quite something else when the letter claims authorship for itself. The early church made a habit of rejecting letters that were not from whom the letter purported to be from. So, the early church was not ignorant of forgeries. The liberals have never been able to answer this problem. I’m sure that Davids’s commentary is excellent is most other ways. It is quite long (348 pages, including indices) for just two short epistles. There will be much meat there, I’m sure.

Williamson on Isaiah looks to be a very interesting, meaty commentary. He produced an excellent commentary on Ezra-Nehemiah in the WBC, and has now produced this one in the ICC.

Lincoln on John also looks to be helpful. It is a much longer commentary than most of the commentaries in that series tend to be (584 pages, including indices). Plus, he is not nearly as liberal as Bultmann or Brown. He seems to have read everything of importance, as well (not easy, when commenting on John!).

Klein is quite an expert on Chronicles and that history, though he is a bit liberal. Nevertheless, this looks to be a full treatment in the venerable Hermeneia tradition.  

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  1. Josh said,

    January 11, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    This is a great resource. I had this book hmmmm, wow probably a decade ago. I need to replace it.
    Commentaries for Biblical Expositors
    by: Dr. Jim Rosscup
    ISBN: 0977226239

    ‘Commentaries for Biblical Expositors’ is a classic reference book that gives paragraph annotations describing and classifying many commentaries on all 66 books of the Bible. This revised edition (2004) has been enlarged with approximately 360 new entries—in addition to more than 1000 existing entries. One key feature is a ‘ratings’ system for the commentaries in three categories: ‘Detailed Exegetical,’ ‘Expository Survey,’ and ‘Devotional Flavor’ commentaries. Before you invest your money and time in particular commentaries, why not save on potential regret and consult Dr. Rosscup’s excellent advice? 362 pp. Softcover, reprint from Kress Christian Publications. Click here for backcover endorsements.
    List Price: $19.99 Our Price: $16.99 You Save: $3.00

  2. joe riley said,

    January 30, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    While I suppose I could purchase the Rosscup reference for commentary selection, I wouldn’t want to purchase it new every two-three years (who can stop this buying habit?!). I’m just wondering instead whether you have a list of commentaries rated that you could make available. I have tended to “shop” around on other sites, like two-age, give so-and-so a ring, and so on, then make my purchases. But YOU seem to have a gift for evaluating (I was careful not to use that “discernment” term!) commentaries. So, if you have a list, with or without comments, I’d be grateful. Also, for individual subject matters, supplementary vital books, I’d also be interested in that. Thank you very, very much.


  3. greenbaggins said,

    January 31, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Look in the indices category, and you will find a reference to all my commentary recommendations.

  4. July 2, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    [...] So the context is undeterminable oaths which the Lord alone could judge as to its truth or falsity. Secondly, note the close parallel between “bringing his conduct on his own head” and “rewarding him according to his righteousness.” These in turn qualify the sense in which “condemn” and “justify” are taken. Leithart argues that this forensic use of the term is not limited to the mere declaration of a sentence, and that Solomon is “asking that God reward those whom he declared righteous; indeed, he is asking Yahweh to declare the righteous by giving rewards” (p. 211). At this point, we need to remember that the Reformation exegesis of “justification” language made mention of two main uses of the term: declarative and demonstrative. This is how they explained the difference between James and Paul: Paul was talking about declarative justification (the verdict of not guilty), and James was talking about the demonstration of being declared not guilty. See, for instance, John Owen’s works, volume 5, pp. 384ff., Calvin’s Inst. 3.17.12, Pemble, pg. 200. For more modern discussion, see CJPM, pp. 149-150 for a discussion of dikaioo. A good case can be made that tsedeq and dikaioo overlap to a considerable extent, even to the two definitions of declarative and demonstrative. More than half of the LXX instances of dikaioo translate tsedeq (see Hatch/Redpath, I, p. 334). Surely, the background for Paul’s usage must be found there. In short, our understanding of how the passage works looks like this: either the meaning of tsedeq means the declarative sense, in which case, we take the lamed preposition to be indicating the result of the declaration; or, conversely, if we take tsedeq in the demonstrative sense, then the lamed preposition has the meaning “by.” I take the latter meaning to be more probable, given the parallel with the condemnation in the same verse. This is Matthew Poole’s verdict: “Ostendendo quod justam causam habuerit” (p. 484 of the Synopsis Criticorum).  Translated, it says “It is shown that he will have the just cause.” Waltke leans this way also: “In these instances the person is probably recognized as becoming either righteous or wicked by some observable act of judgment imposed on him” (IBHS, p. 439, emphasis added). Having shown, therefore, not only that the Reformers were aware of this use of the word, but also that they had read this passage (as Poole’s quotation shows), and didn’t feel that their definition of justification needed to be expanded, Leithart’s thesis that we need to broaden the Reformer’s definition of justification falls flat. In any case, Leithart’s contention that this is a declaration by reward has certainly not been proven. By the way, it should be noted in passing that Leithart does not deal explicitly with this passage in his commentary. So, no additional light may be thrown on Leithart’s interpretation by looking at his commentary, which, by the way, I reviewed briefly here. [...]

  5. Dennis A Bratcher said,

    July 2, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Perhaps the next time you won’t spend the time to read a book before commenting on it, you might want to note that it does not claim to be an “exegetical” commentary but a “theological” commentary.
    Who’s making the word-concept fallacy now?

  6. greenbaggins said,

    July 2, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Dennis, I did already know that it was a theological commentary. That does not in the least negate my point, which was that a theological commentary should still be informed by the best exegesis. I was making a bibliographical point, which does not require reading the entire book to make. It was not a complete book review, as anyone can see by reading what I wrote. The word-concept fallacy is utterly irrelevant to this discussion. We are not talking in the slightest about individual words versus concepts. We are talking about the relationship between exegesis and systematic theology, which, I dearly hope you’ll acknowledge, is not the same thing as the word-concept fallacy. One cannot equate exegesis with word-studies. Exegesis is on a continuum with systematics, the one feeding into the other. So your comment is wide, Dennis.

  7. July 3, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Lane, have you asked Dr. Leithart if he could shed some light on his lightweight bibliography?

  8. J.W.M. said,

    July 3, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    I’m kinda with Dennis, Lane. It’s not really fair to denigrate a book on the basis of its bibliography alone. Maybe Leithart has read all those guys you cite – that hardly requires him to cite them in his own work.

  9. Xon said,

    July 3, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    It’s the word-concept fallacy, Lane, b/c you were disappointed in Leithart’s commentary for not doing something which it was never intended to do. “Good commnetary” does not have to mean “interacts wtih the other well-regarded commentators.”

    I understand the argument you are trying to make, per your #6. You think that all good commentaries do have to interact with lots of the well-regarded previous commentators. Even the “theological” commentaries should “be informed by the best exegesis.” Okay, you can have that opinion if you want, but the whole point of the Brazos Series is to go “outside” the usual deal. They are simply intended to be “informed by the best exegesis.” They are intended to be a different kind of thing.

    (And I do think it’s interesting, as a quasi-side-note, that you are now faulting Leithart for being systematic in his approach to a book of the Bible! I thought FVers emphasized biblical studies over systematic? Now Leithart writes a commentary that is full of systematic observations and connections (of a sort), and you find this ‘disappointing.’ ??)

    Perhaps you just think the whole idea of the Brazos Series is a bad one. But it still seems facile to be ‘disappointed’ in Leithart for doing what the series is intended to do.

  10. July 3, 2007 at 9:59 pm


    I was disappointed with Pelikan’s commentary on Acts in the Brazos series. But I read it before forming that opinion.

    One can examine a commentary looking at bibliographies for indicators of breadth of treatment, but assuming absense of certain works from that bibliography equates to absence from the author’s attention and/or awareness assumes too much.

    The next time you review a book, read it first.

    Its a basic rule.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    July 4, 2007 at 10:24 am

    David, I will do that when I review work. As I said in my last post, I did not review Leithart’s commentary. So stop patronizing me.

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