Review: Ephesians (EGGNT)

27777748Benjamin 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.

Review: Ephesians (EEC)

29597964S. M. Baugh is Professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary California. Baugh has earned both a M.A.R. and MDiv from Westminster Seminary California and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. He is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is actively engaged in preaching and teaching. Baugh has written essays and articles for various publications, and he is the author of A First John Reader: Intermediate Greek Reading Notes and Grammar (P&R, 1999) and New Testament Greek Primer, 3rd edition (P&R, 2012). Most recently, Baugh released a mammoth commentary on Ephesians in the highly acclaimed and quickly growing Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series published by Lexham Press.

Ephesians is a powerhouse of exegetical insight and reflection. Baugh seems to leave no interpretive stone unturned, and his interaction therein displays decades of seasoned consideration on both primary and secondary literature. The introduction alone is approximately 50-pages in length and includes a healthy and up-to-date bibliography, as well as the standard introductory material that the reader would expect from a commentary of this caliber. Although it must be said outright that Baugh does little if anything “standard” in this commentary. From beginning to end, it would not be a stretch to conclude that even the most learned of readers will walk away from Baugh’s interaction with a wealth of exegetical and interpretive insights.

One of the most apparent benefits of this commentary is the organization and presentation of the content. This really works well with Baugh’s interaction with the text. Each of the major sections begins with a brief introduction to the unit of text, followed by an outline, the original text, textual notes, translation, commentary, biblical theology comments, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography. Also, the reader will occasionally meet an additional exegetical comments section, where Baugh seeks to provide additional comments on various themes in the letter (i.e. magic, faith in/of Christ, etc.). One of the most helpful features of Baugh’s work is the amount of information provided in the original text and textual notes sections. Baugh does well in assisting the reader in the task of establishing the text before he carefully guides them on an exegetical tour towards a very practical end.

Ephesians: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary by S. M. Baugh is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best technical commentary on Ephesians available today. Baugh has offered far more than a reworking of his predecessors. This volume is carefully researched and judiciously presented for maximum usability. There is an assumed knowledge of the original languages that is required, but even those with limited knowledge will benefit greatly. Baugh has effectively blended academic rigor with practical exposition—a feat that could only be accomplished after decades of reflection and interaction. If you are looking for a commentary that will make you think and evaluate the available landscape of ideas before guiding you through the outcomes therein, this is a volume that you cannot ignore. It will quickly become the first off of your bookshelf!

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an 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.

Review: Ruth (ZECOT)

9780310282983.jpg_2Daniel I. Block is a household name in the field of Old Testament studies. He is the Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College where he has served for over a decade, and is author, co-author, and/or editor of numerous books, including the two-volume commentary on The Book of Ezekiel in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series, Deuteronomy in the NIV Application Commentary series, Judges & Ruth in the New American Commentary series, and much more. Most recently, functioning as the general editor of the series and the author of this volume on Ruth, Block has produced a captivating analysis into the theological corners of one of the most important narratives of the Hebrew Bible.

Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament: Ruth opens with an up-to-date selected bibliography of some the most important works related to the book of Ruth, as well as Block’s own translation of the Hebrew text. Block’s translation is exceptional. It was easy-to-read, faithful to the text, and true to the narratival genre as a whole. Following the translation, the reader will encounter a firmly situated introduction that addresses standard introductory matters, such as date, authorship, the providence of composition, major theological themes, style, structure, etc. The commentary proper is organized under six sections that guide the reader through the text: (1) The Main Idea of the Passage, (2) Literary Context, (3) Translation and Exegetical Outline, (4) Structure and Literary Form, (5) Explanation of the Text, (6) Canonical and Practical Significance. This format is extremely helpful in that it allows the reader to narrow in on the details of the text with a broader sense of the passage and book at large.

The high points of this commentary are overflowing. As mentioned above, the format and structure of the book is intentionally sensitive to the task of the end user. This means that the pastor and/or teacher will be more than pleased with the content and organization of the book as they seek to preach or teach through this important story. Block helpfully recognizes the importance of the narrative genre and does an excellent job bringing this feature to the surface throughout. For example, the outline of the book (p. 58) has been presented thematically as a type of narrative drama, and thus Block labels the sections and subsections accordingly (i.e. Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV, Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, etc.). Moreover, Block has also included a dramatized reading of the narrative to be used within an ecclesiastical setting, and thus mimic the original hearing of the story (p. 263). This narratival emphasis alone warrants a home for this volume on your bookshelf. I also found Block’s interaction with the text to be consistently helpful in recognizing the larger picture and significance of the book as a whole. Finally, it is worth mentioning, unlike the New Testament volumes in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series, this Old Testament volume include Hebrew and English in the presentation of the diagramed text. This is especially useful for those that know the original language, but those do may not will still find great benefit.

Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament: Ruth by Daniel I. Block is, in many ways, representative of how a commentary should be executed if the end goal is to be the faithful proclamation of a biblical narrative. Block has intentionally brought together helpful features that are rarely found between a single binding, and has thus done an outstanding job guiding the reader on both a macro and micro level. Moreover, his consistent narratival emphasis allows the reader to remain focused on the broader picture being painted throughout the story, as well as the main theological themes therein. While the commentary is certainly detailed in exegetical riches, I am confident that even those with little or no understanding of the biblical languages will be able to use this volume with tremendous benefit. If you are preparing to preach or teach through the book of Ruth, or simply interested in a detailed investigation into this important biblical story, this will be a volume that you cannot afford to be without.

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an 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.

Review: The Gospel of St. John

9780830829453This second installment in the highly anticipated The Lightfoot Legacy Set—The Gospel of St. John: A Newly Discovered Commentary—brings together previously unpublished and important Lightfoot material on the Fourth Gospel. This is an exciting and refreshing moment in history for Johannine scholars and Lightfoot enthusiasts alike.

Similar to the previous volume, the commentary opens with a brief recounting of the story behind the discovery and an editors’ introduction to the person of Lightfoot as a biblical commentator. If the reader is unfamiliar with Lightfoot, which would be hard to believe, this is an appropriate starting point. The commentary itself covers John 1-12, and includes various topical excursuses and appendices.

The competency of Lightfoot’s understanding of the original languages is astounding, and his ability to quickly draw upon and interact with textual information is simply ahead of his time. Moreover, the comprehensive scope of his literary understanding and interaction therein is amazing. For example, as he interacts with John 8:5, Lightfoot makes mention of a possible Qur’anic parallel, and also makes mention of Mohammed’s utilization of the Apocryphal Gospels (p. 172).

The introduction and two appendices (Appendix A & B) that address the authenticity and genuineness of the Fourth Gospel should prove to be worth the price of the book alone. When one considers the historical landscape of biblical scholarship in the 19th century, specifically concerning the Gospel of John, Lightfoot’s proclamation was quite unique. Remember, this was prior to the discovery of P52 and the various challenges that important finding had upon biblical scholarship.

Furthermore, as testimony of the usefulness of Lightfoot for today, the editors have included an essay by Martin Hengel (originally presented at Durham University in 1989, titled, Bishop Lightfoot and the Tübingen School on the Gospel of John and the Second Century) as “Appendix C: Lightfoot and German Scholarship on John’s Gospel.” It is here that Hengel concludes in light of the historical milieu, “Joseph Barber Lightfoot, historian and theologian, Christian and bishop, can still become our tutor today” (p. 358).

The Gospel of St. John: A Newly Discovered Commentary is an exciting window into the mind of one of the most brilliant biblical commentators of the past two centuries. Readers of all backgrounds and interests will benefit greatly from the wisdom and judicious historical and exegetical care of J. B. Lightfoot. This was true for his previously published work, and evidently, it remains true for these newly discovered ones as well. This is an important publication that I would not want to be without, and thus it comes highly recommended.

I received a review copy of this book 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.

Review: 1 & 2 Chronicles

9780825425592Eugene H. Merrill is a seasoned scholar, well-situated for the task of writing an exegetical commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles. Merrill is distinguished professor emeritus of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and the author of numerous books, including Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel, Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament, and The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament (with Mark E. Rooker and Michael A. Grisanti). Merrill has also previously authored another smaller and less technical commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles for the Lamplighter series published by Zondervan. However little comparison can, and should, be made between the present volume and the previous.

A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles opens with a sizable (almost the size of a small monograph at approximately 70 pages) introduction to the corpus of the Chronicler. Merrill discusses the typical introductory matters, such as the historical and cultural setting, authorship, genre, canonical placement, etc. Merrill also tackles issues such as the structure and sources of the book, textual criticism of the book, the theology of Chronicles, and provides the reader with an annotated list of major studies on Chronicles in recent years. This introductory section is a must read for anyone thinking about journeying through the text of 1 & 2 Chronicles. Merrill is thorough and careful in his treatment and provides the reader with a wealth of useful information that is helpful in positioning the reader for the road ahead.

The commentary itself is well-written and well-formatted. Each section begins with a translation of the designated pericope. The credit page states that the translation is the author’s own, but the translation provided is the NIV 2011. It would have been nice to have an original translation by Merrill, but the NIV 2011 works quite well. Following the translation is a “Text-Critical Notations” section that list various textual variants found in the designated section. For the most part, this section follows closely with that found in the BHS apparatus, but the technical jargon and apparatus sigla are easier to read. In some cases, additional comments are provided to discuss the variants. Lastly, there is an “Exegesis and Exposition” section which provides both exegetical and expositional comments of the text in a verse-by-verse format.

It is clear that Merrill is well-acquainted with the text and issues surrounding 1 & 2 Chronicles. His comments are consistently clear, helpful, and well documented. Throughout the commentary, there are also a number of subject-driven excursus sections, and various charts and sections dedicated to theological discourse (i.e. the theology of the rise of David, the theology of Solomonic reign, etc.). These sections are appropriately placed and the reader will appreciate the content therein. Still, as part of the growing Kregel Exegetical Library series, the commentary shines most brightly in the judicious presentation of Merrill’s exegesis. Merrill has produced a fine volume that is rich with exegetical insights. It will certainly be one of the first, if not the first resource to leave my shelf when working in 1 & 2 Chronicles.

 

I received a review copy of these 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.

Book Review: James (EGGNT)

13212720Chris A. Vlachos is the Ph.D. program administrator and adjunct assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College. Prior to joining the staff and teaching at Wheaton College in 2007, Vlachos served in Utah for thirty years, twenty-two years of which as an instructor and professor of Greek and New Testament at Salt Lake Theological Seminary. Vlachos earned an M.A. in New Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Biblical Theology of the New Testament from Wheaton College. Vlachos is the author (with Marvin R. Wilson) of A Workbook for New Testament Greek: Grammar and Exegesis in First John (Baker Academic, 2010) and The Law and the Knowledge of Good and Evil: The Edenic Background of the Catalytic Operation of the Law in Paul (Wipf & Stock, 2009). Most recently, Vlachos has authored a welcomed commentary in the EGGNT series, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: James (B&H Academic, 2013).

The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series seeks to function as a bridge to narrow the gap between the text of the Greek New Testament (UBS4) and the available lexical and grammatical resources being utilized by pastors and teachers today. The book begins with a brief introduction, discussing issues of authorship, date, occasion and purpose. If you are looking for extensive introductory material on the epistle you will need to look elsewhere, but Vlachos will provide you with a good survey of the need-to-know introductory information. As the commentary opens the reader is met by diagramed Greek text that functions as the roadmap for the commentary that follows. This is helpful for understanding the flow of the epistle and the overall thought of James as his pen hit the page. The commentary is discussed at the clausal level, as Vlachos explains and surveys the grammatical and exegetical discussion amongst biblical scholarship. Overall, I think Vlachos was objective in his evaluation, presenting the evidence in a responsible way in which cultivates contemplation on the part of the reader. Each unit in the commentary closes with a “For Further Study” section that includes a topically organized bibliography, as well as a “Homiletical Suggestions” segment which provides the reader with a number of text-derived preaching and teaching proposals.

The highlights of this commentary are numerous. First, Vlachos is clear, concise, and careful in his treatment of the text. If you are looking for a commentary that delivers sprinkles and frosting to decorate the cake, then you will want to look elsewhere. Vlachos is going to give you the cake alone. But the cake that Vlachos delivers is going to be some of the best cake you have ever tasted. It will be refreshing, enjoyable, and bursting with flavor. In other words, at under 200 pages, Vlachos will give you what you to know rather than what you may want to know. Second, as someone who seeks to engage in conversation with Mormon’s often, and given Vlachos’ prior position in Salt Lake City, I found his interaction on James 2:14-26 incredibly insightful. This is also testimony to the text-centered objectivity of Vlachos’ approach as he seeks to provide you with what the text says (and could say) without diverting into theological name-calling. Lastly, I found the grammatical index at the back of the book to extremely helpful for consulting the grammatical ideas flow across the letter. Not to mention, I seem to remember grammatical phraseology well, and thus can find the section I need quickly.

It is certainly no easy task to follow up the inaugural volume of what has come to be recognized as one of the best exegetically oriented series on the Greek New Testament. But if that wasn’t enough pressure on Vlachos, the introductory volume was written by one of the world’s foremost respected biblical exegetes Murray J. Harris. Still, despite these mental challenges that inevitably entered into his mind, Vlachos has produced a clear and concise compilation of some of the best work on the letter of James and did so while walking the reader through the grammatical and exegetical forest of one of the most important New Testament writings. If you are a pastor, teacher, student, or trained laymen, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: James is a resource you will not want to see missing from your bookshelf. It follows closely in the footsteps of Harris’ work and has become the first book off my shelf when studying the letter of James.

I received a review copy of this book 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.

Book Review: Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary

22144310The discovery of new manuscripts from a well-known author is certain to perk the interest of any historical enthusiasts. The excitement quickly builds and the mystery continues to linger. This was the landscape of biblical scholarship in 2013 when news broke surrounding the discovery of previously unpublished J. B. Lightfoot manuscripts—several hundred pages of unpublished biblical commentary tucked away gathering dust in the Durham Cathedral Library. Pages upon pages of biblical exposition and exegetical studies on the Gospel of John, Acts, 2 Corinthians, and 1 Peter, written by one of nineteenth centuries most influential biblical scholars. It was exciting news for Lightfoot fans everywhere. Now, thanks to the effort of Ben Witherington III, Todd D. Still, Jeanette M. Hagen, and the entire team at IVP Academic, the world of biblical studies is able to once again sink fresh teeth into the judicious exegesis of Joseph Barber Lightfoot.

The Lightfoot Legacy Set is the outpouring of the publication of these previously unpublished Lightfoot discoveries in Durham. There are three volumes projected to release by 2016. At this present time the team has completed one volume, the present volume under review, The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary, with the Gospel of John docked for a December 2015 release. These are exciting times for both Lightfoot fans and biblical studies enthusiasts alike, and with the release of this first volume the future looks very bright.

The commentary opens with a fascinating firsthand account of the discovery of the manuscripts. The reader will find this brief section to be an enticing transition into the series as Ben Witherington III conveys the process with which the discovery occurred, including several photographs of the discovery itself. For the reader who may be somewhat unfamiliar with Lightfoot, the Editor’s Introduction provides a concise look into the person and work of J. B. Lightfoot as a Biblical Commentator. This is a great introduction for those faintly familiar with Lightfoot and a true highpoint to the commentary. The content of the commentary itself runs from Acts 1:1-21:39 and includes approximately twelve excursus sections and four additional articles in the appendix. Despite the fact that Lightfoot never completed the commentary, as reflected in the lack of the remaining verses of the book, the content included in this book is highly useful even by today’s standards.

Lightfoot was a master of numerous ancient and modern languages (German, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Classical Greek, Koine Greek, and the Greek of the Church Fathers) and this expertise is evident throughout the pages of this commentary. For the reader trained in the biblical languages, Lightfoot’s proficiency will encourage further mastery and devotion to the understanding the Scriptures. For the reader not trained in the biblical languages, the frequent use of Greek may be a bit overwhelming at first. But this should not persuade the novice reader away from The Acts of the Apostles. There is certainly still much to be gleaned from this work and there are a number of highpoints that the intimidated reader would, unfortunately, forgo having passed on the opportunity to sit alongside a man of Lightfoot’s stature. Personally, among other things, I found Lightfoot’s discussion on the textual basis for Acts interesting and his interaction with the account of Stephen’s speech and martyrdom (Acts 7) was nothing short of superb. Sure disagreements may arise here and there, but the engagement that Lightfoot provides in The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary is an opportunity only the naivest of readers are willing to dismiss.

The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary is an exciting window into the mind of one of the most brilliant Biblical Commentators of the past centuries. Readers of all backgrounds will benefit greatly from the wisdom and judicious exegetical care of J. B. Lightfoot. This was true for his previously published work, and evidently, it remains true for these newly discovered ones as well. I appreciate and commend the work of IVP Academic in assuming the task of publishing and producing these manuscripts, as well as Ben Witherington III, Todd D. Still, and Jeanette M. Hagen for the tedious work that takes place behind the scene in making a project like this possible. Your labor has truly become our reward.

I received a review copy of this book 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.

Book Review: Colossians and Philemon (EGGNT)

EGGNT_Col_Phile_revcvr2_InD5.inddMurray J. Harris is professor emeritus of New Testament exegesis and theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity
School and formerly served as warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge University in England. Harris has a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester, where he studied under F. F. Bruce, and is the author of numerous books, including, Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus,
Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ, and The Second Epistle to the Corinthians from the acclaimed New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series. Harris is also the mastermind behind the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) series. The first edition of the inaugural volume of the EGGNT, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Colossians and Philemon, was published by W.B. Eerdmans in 1991. No subsequent volumes were then published. Now
revived under the direction of B&H Academic, Colossians and Philemon has received the needed updates to set the series afloat.

Colossians and Philemon opens with a brief introduction on Paul’s letter to the Colossians and includes discussion surrounding authorship (Harris argues for Pauline authorship rather than the “deuteron-Pauline” theory), date, occasion, and purpose. A similar introduction is provided for Philemon, again Harris affirms Pauline authorship and devoting a good deal of space to the issues at stake behind the purpose of the letter. Both introductions close with an outline of the letter and a “Recommended Commentaries” section. As the reader enters into the discussion of the letters themselves they are met by block diagrammed Greek text (with occasional English parallels), followed by a phrase-by-phrase interaction with the text itself. Harris shines brightly in this section as a master exegete with seasoned insight. He carefully guides the reader through the text hand-in-hand explaining various grammatical issues, exegetical interpretations, and textual critical analyses. Each unit of text concludes with a “For Further Study” section that includes a topically organized bibliography, as well as a section dedicated to “Homiletical Suggestions” for preaching and teaching. Both sections are helpful and welcomed, but the lack of an annotated bibliography may disappoint some reader. Nevertheless, it is an appropriate conclusion to a unit of text and really functions to catapults the reader to other areas of investigation.

Harris has provided the pastor, teacher, and student with a necessary tool for the task of exegesis and
interpretation. He has brought together some of the best and most widely used resources relating to the letters of Colossians and Philemon and thoroughly surveyed the depths of the Greek text behind both. There are a number of highpoints within this resource that I found indispensable and I am sure others will as well. First, following the commentary of each book, Harris has provided an original translation and an expanded paraphrase of both Colossians and Philemon. I personally found this helpful after just digesting scores upon scores of grammatical and exegetical information. It helped to take the training wheels off the two-wheeler. It is a little disappointing that this tradition didn’t get carried over to the subsequent volumes in the series. On that note, another highlight that didn’t get carried over to the subsequent volumes is the Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms. This was a pleasant surprise and I think it would be a welcomed addition across all volumes for the novice reader. Lastly, while the reader is welcome to disagree, I found Harris’ treatment of the Colossian 1:15-20 to be among the best in the book. The analysis of the text was superb and the “For Further Study” is rich in interpretive rabbit trails. But this could also be said of the entire volume.

In 1985, when the vision of the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series first came to the mind of Murray J. Harris, I wonder if he was able to foresee the level of benefit this series would bring to the serious student of Scripture. Having read all the available volumes, it would seem faintly possible. This is an excellent inaugural volume on two very significant Pauline epistles. Sure it may not a commentary in the traditional sense, but it will certainly better position the reader to enter into the conversations therein. If you are a pastor, teacher, student, or well-informed laymen, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Colossians and Philemon is a resource that should not be overlooked. The Church is truly indebted to Murray J. Harris for his contribution to the inception of such a series, and to B&H Academic for making sure that his vision came to fruition and made available to all. The labor of these two parties and all involved has become our reward.

I received a review copy of this book 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.  

Book Review: John (EGGNT)

25102444Murray J. Harris is professor emeritus of New Testament exegesis and theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and formerly served as warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge University in England. Harris has a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester, where he studied under F. F. Bruce, and is the author of numerous books, including, Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus, Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians from the acclaimed New International Greek Testament Commentary series (NIGTC), Colossians and Philemon in the growing Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series (EGGNT), and many more. Most recently, Harris has released his second contributing volume to the EGGNT series, a volume on the Fourth Gospel that certain to make its residence on the bookshelves of many.

The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series was birthed out of a desire to function as a type of middle-ground resource that seeks to narrow the gap between the text of the Greek New Testament (UBS5) and the available lexical and grammatical tool being used by pastors and teachers today. In this present volume, Harris has delivered a goldmine of exegetical wisdom and theological insight into one of the most important New Testament books. The book begins with a very brief introduction focused on authorship, purpose, audience, setting, and date, as well as an extremely helpful and necessary section of John’s style of Greek and the overall structure of the book. The introduction concludes with a short discussion surrounding the pros and cons of five recommended commentaries and additional resources. This section is useful for the detailed reader as these resources become imperative in further investigating the exegesis that follows. However, if you are looking for an up-to-date bibliography on the Fourth Gospel this is not going to be a helpful section. Still, the abbreviations section just prior to the introduction does provide a wealth of resources mentioned throughout the book that may be of use.

As the reader enters into the commentary of the gospel, Harris has skillfully utilized a similar format and layout as the other volumes in the EGGNT series. Some accommodations have been made given the nature of the gospels themselves, as opposed to that of epistles. For example, the reader is not going to find as much sentence diagraming in this volume as the others, and the layout centers primarily around the verse level as opposed to the clause level in the other volumes. Personally, I found this to be somewhat of a disappointment because of the helpfulness of the clause level interaction for the task of exegesis. But, then again, this is primarily helpful because the other volumes are structured around the epistolary genre and not gospel narrative. Nevertheless, I think the reader will find that the verse-by-verse discussion is executed extremely well, and Harris, as anticipated, is successful in guiding the reader through the gospel of John with a fine tooth comb. Finally, after each section of the text is thoroughly examined, Harris has provided the reader with a “For Further Study” section, as well as “Homiletical Suggestions” that aid the pastor or teacher in constructing a communicational roadmap based on the previous sections.

As each volume of the EGGNT series is released the bar of exegetical example is visibly raised. Murray J. Harris has demonstrated what it looks like to provide faithful text-centered exegesis, and to do so with communication to the people of God as the primary goal. Harris has provided the reader with a detailed analysis of the lexical and grammatical style and structure of the Fourth Gospel, and he has done so in a clear and understandable way. Not only is this the best volume in the EGGNT series, but this is likely the best resource available on the market for those looking to walk through the Greek text of the Fourth Gospel. If you are a pastor, teacher, or learned laymen this resource will prove itself invaluable to your library. If you are a professor and looking for a faithful guide to send home with your students, who else would you rather have by their side than Murray J. Harris? For these reasons and many, I couldn’t recommend this resource more!

I received an advance review copy of this book 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.