A Warning to Bible Commentators

I came across this in a recent Bible commentary on Ezekiel (commenting on chapter 32:1-16), by Nancy Bowen, and I almost threw up when I read it (some moderate apology is necessary for even posting this, but the warning needs to be there):

As for YHWH, we ought not exonerate, much less extol, such divine violence. Like Job, we should bring God to trial for crimes against humanity. Preservation of divine “sovereignty” comes at a terrible cost of suffering and death. If God is a warrior, then God’s hands are bloody (p. 200).

Honestly, why do some Bible commentators think they can get away with saying stuff like this, just because they have Ph.D. next to their names? Have they never read C.S. Lewis’s “God in the Dock” essay? Have they never read Romans 9? The tragic irony of such blasphemy is that Nancy Bowen winds up committing the very same mistake that Pharaoh of Egypt commits in Ezekiel 32. He thought of himself as a lion, but he was more of a crocodile. Her self-assessment is that she is in a position to judge God Almighty and find Him wanting. The hubris of this quotation is absolutely breath-taking! She thinks of herself as judge, but she will find that she is a defendant.

Bible commentators often think that they can say whatever they want, and no repercussions will ever come their way. This is not true. I hope and pray (for Nancy Bowen, as well as others like her), that they will realize their sin before it is too late, and turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ.


  1. johntjeffery said,

    August 8, 2019 at 11:18 am

    The volume being exposed is Nancy R. Bowen, Ezekiel, Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries, gen. ed. Patrick D. Miller (Nashville: Abingdon, 2010).

    Nancy R. Bowen is Professor of Old Testament at Earlham School of Religion (Richmond, IN), and “…an ordained minister….She earned a B.A. from the University of California in 1978; an M. Div. from the School of Theology at Claremont in 1985; and a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1994. She joined the faculty of ESR in 1991.”
    Source: “Teaching Faculty” on Earlham School of Religion at https://esr.earlham.edu/academic-programs/faculty/teaching-faculty [accessed 8 AUG 2019].

    Note: Earlham is a Quaker school. See “The History of Earlham School of Religion” on Earlham School of Religion at https://esr.earlham.edu/about-esr/history [accessed 8 AUG 2019].

    You could put this one down to #exposingfalseteachers or #callingitheresy. This is in spite of Abingdon Press’ blurb about this commentary set:

    “The Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries series offers compact, critical commentaries on all the books of the Old Testament. In addition to providing fundamental information on and insights into Old Testament writings, these commentaries exemplify the tasks and procedures of careful, critical exegesis so as to assist students of the Old Testament in coming to an informed engagement of the biblical texts themselves. These commentaries are written with special attention to the needs and interests of theology students, but they will also be useful for students in upper-level college or university settings, as well as for pastors and other church leaders.”
    Source: Abingdon Press at https://www.abingdonpress.com/product/9780687084715/ [accessed 8 AUG 2019].

    The operative word here is “critical” as in placing themselves over rather than under the text. The adjective “careful” is only applicable to the next word, “critical,” since when they say “exegesis” we must read “eisegesis.” All of this leaves me wondering why Lane was reading this volume in the first place?!?!

  2. SteveD said,

    August 8, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    jtj #1 – That would be my question. I check the authors and editors before I buy any commentary and usually ask others I trust for their opinion. I would never have purchased or read a commentary such as this unless I was doing so “critically” myself. . .

  3. August 8, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Lane likes to get opposing viewpoints so he’s aware of what nonsense there is out there, and can answer it.

  4. johntjeffery said,

    August 8, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    I suspected as much, and am not surprised that his intent was to “critique the critics”! LOL! It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

  5. reiterations said,

    August 8, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Too bad. Abingdon Press used to be a fairly conservative house, if memory serves. Now they’re publishing junk like this.

  6. August 9, 2019 at 6:02 am

    Reblogged this on Christian Worldview and commented:
    A great post. Read with discernment your commentaries!

  7. Steve Drake said,

    August 10, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    I hate to say it, but it’s what I’m thinkin’ – let fly your arrows – perhaps why our sisters shouldn’t be trying to teach and have authority?

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