Benjamin L. Merkle is Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Apart from writing numerous published articles, Merkle has authored several books and co-authored the recently released and highly acclaimed Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: A Intermediate Study of the Grammar, Syntax, and Exegesis of the New Testament (with Andreas J. Köstenberger and Robert L. Plummer). Still, most recently, Merkle has contributed the newest volume to the growing and increasingly useful Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) series.
This volume on Ephesians, much like the existing EGGNT volumes, is structured to optimize the reader’s understanding of the Greek text and facilitate a deeper recognition of the various nuances therein. Merkle begins with a brief introduction to the epistle that helpfully establishes the primry building blocks of the letter. However, while those interested in a fuller treatment of introductory issues will need to look elsewhere, Merkle offers enough information to get the reader properly acquainted with the epistle. I was especially surprised and appreciative of Merkle’s conversation surrounding the original recipients of the letter. Those who are familiar with the letter to the Ephesians should know the debate about the recipients and the textual variant in 1:1. Merkle affirms “in Ephesus” as the original reading for the recipients and provides some valid textual reasons for doing such.
The organization of the volume is arranged around a phrase-by-phrase analysis of the Greek text. Merkle provides extensive conversation concerning grammar, syntax, word usage, textual variants, and almost anything else exegetically significant to the text. The content requires a working knowledge of Greek, but Merkle is clear and careful when communicating technical concepts. Another useful feature of this volume is the Greek sentence diagraming that is offered at the beginning of each major section of text. This is helpful for quickly visualizing how the text joints together to establish Paul’s point. Each major section likewise concludes with a “For Further Study” section that takes various themes unearthed in the section and provides the reader with a bibliography for additional investigation. Lastly, Merkle has provided recommended preaching outlines that allow the reader to work from the text established in the volume to the sermon preached in the pulpit.
There is much to be praised about this volume. First, and probably foremost, Merkle is very well acquainted with the letter to the Ephesians and his sensitivity to the broader academic conversation concerning textual issues and grammatical debate is noticeable. Second, I found Merkle to be extremely thoughtful in his explanation of difficult concepts. He is clearly aware of his primary audience and knows that a variegated knowledge of the Greek language is found therein. This is beneficial for the pastors or students who are less frequently working out of the Greek text but have some formal training or exposure. Third, the scope of this volume’s content is impressive given its small footprint. Merkle has crammed a lot of relevant and useful information into a small package. In fact, I am confident to say that if you pair this volume with any of the recommended commentaries, you will be well equipped to preach or teach through the letter of Ephesians with excellence.
Ephesians: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament by Benjamin L. Merkle is an exciting addition to an already exhilarating series. Merkle’s contribution fits extremely well with the quality and caliber that the EGGNT series has already produced, and I think that any serious student of the Bible would be ill-equipped without it. If you have been looking for a resource that will guide you through the depths of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, then look no further, because this will continually be your first stop on that journey. It comes highly recommended!
I received a review copy of this books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.