Eugene Carpenter was Professor of Old Testament, Hebrew, and Biblical Theology at Bethel College. He authored commentaries on Daniel and Exodus, as well as Deuteronomy in the New Illustrated Bible Background Commentary. Carpenter has also written translations for both Exodus and Numbers. Before his untimely and accidental death in 2012, Carpenter completed his magnum opus on the Book of Exodus—a mammoth exploration that took nearly two decades to complete.
The Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series (EEC) is becoming notoriously known for its consistent academic rigor and practical care. Each volume in the series presents content packed with insight and application and is bound together by a historic affirmation of orthodox Christianity and the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures (xi). Carpenter’s volume on the Book of Exodus accomplishes this reality with excellence and provides the reader with a wealth of understanding and insight.
Carpenter begins the commentary with a well-informed monster of an introduction (61 pages). It’s here that groundwork is established, and the introductory matters are investigated. I really appreciated Carpenter’s focus on the theological and practical emphasis of the book. It was a refreshing and holistic overview of the importance of Exodus, and one, in my opinion, deemed necessary before entering into some of the minute details of verbal forms and textual disputes.
As the reader enters into the commentary proper, each major unit of the commentary is addressed with a brief introduction, which is then followed by smaller and more detailed discussions around the specific units of text. It is here that the reader will discover the supreme worth of Carpenter’s work. Each section contains the original text, textual notes, Carpenter’s translation, verse-by-verse commentary, biblical theology comments, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography.
Carpenter has also included a number of helpful excurses articles on various related topics, such as, the historical Moses, the date of the exodus, and more. The reader will discover the excurses material to be appropriately placed. That is, the articles are more than page supplements to the overall commentary; rather they strategically provide detail around some of the more difficult issues within the Exodus conversation—issues that would not fit within the introduction or commentary proper. Carpenter concludes the volume with an exhaustive 40-page bibliography and a Scripture index.
Carpenter is unashamedly conservative in his overall approach to the Book of Exodus. This is praiseworthy for those that stand firmly within that theological circle. However, for those less theologically conservative, some of the statements and conclusions reached by Carpenter will be unwelcomed (e.g. authorship and date). This doesn’t mean that Carpenter sidesteps these critical issues, rather his presupposition therein is guided by his belief in biblical inerrancy. I personally found much of Carpenters interaction helpful and his arguments persuasively presented.
Exodus: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary by Eugene Carpenter represents the best evangelical scholarship on the Old Testament available today. Carpenter is academically lucid and pastorally sensitive. Exodus is a watershed moment in evangelical scholarship. From the organization of the volume to the riches of its content, it is hard to imagine a commentary more useful for studying a book more central to the biblical narrative than this. It comes highly recommended!