Review: The Epistles of 2 Corinthians and 1 Peter

30010088The Epistles of 2 Corinthians and 1 Peter: Newly Discovered Commentaries edited by Ben Witherington III and Todd D. Still is the final installment in the highly anticipated Lightfoot Legacy Set. Witherington and Still have brought together previously unpublished material on two important New Testament epistles, and included an onslaught of essays and lectures on related topics. The completion of the Lightfoot Legacy Set marks an exciting moment for New Testament scholarship and Lightfoot enthusiasts alike.

Similar to the previous two volumes, the commentary opens with a brief recounting of the story behind the discovery of the Lightfoot manuscripts, as well as an editors’ introduction to the person of Lightfoot as a biblical commentator. The commentary is brief and largely incomplete. There is no formal introduction to the epistle of 2 Corinthians, although the editors have included a 20-page essay on the chronology of Paul. The commentary on 2 Corinthians is comprised of textual notes and transitory comments. It almost appears as if Lightfoot was in the process of organizing information and thoughts for a more detailed exposition of the epistle, but never had the time to complete such a work. The commentary on 1 Peter includes a useful introduction and less than 20-pages of commentary, which abruptly ends on 1 Peter 3:20. The commentary per verse on 1 Peter is generally lengthier than 2 Corinthians, but the Peterine introduction is almost twice the size of the commentary proper.

To fill the remainder of the volume, the editors have included several appendices. The appendix material is comprised of five Lightfoot essays (some published elsewhere) and two honorary essays by James D. G. Dunn and C. K. Barrett. Had the editors of the series not elected to include such material the volume would have been less than 120 pages. While all of these essays are informative and important in their own regard (especially Lightfoot’s 90-page essay on “The Christian Ministry” and his essay on Paul’s preparation for ministry), it is here that the reader is likely to find the biggest weakness with this volume. It does well to round out the three-volume set, but as a standalone resource it provides little commentary substance. That is, the other two volumes in the series offer more opportunity for excitement if a commentary is what you are looking for in this book.

The completion of the Lightfoot Legacy Set provides readers with an exciting window into the mind of one of the most brilliant biblical commentators of the nineteenth century. Readers of all backgrounds and interests will benefit greatly from the wisdom and exegetical care of J. B. Lightfoot. While this final volume will have some shortcomings associated with the reader’s prior expectations of the past two volumes, The Epistles of 2 Corinthians and 1 Peter: Newly Discovered Commentaries is a worthy addition to any biblical/theological library—especially if the previous two volumes already occupy shelf space.

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