Review: Hebrews (BTCP)

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Hebrews is among one of the harder books of the NT to understand. I’ve always found it easy to read, but nonetheless confusing when it comes to OT quotations, warnings not to fall away, and that Melchizedek character. While one commentary can’t do everything, the BTCP series aims at showing how Hebrews fits into the biblical storyline. Biblical theology is “the theology expressed by the respective writers of the various biblical books” and how it fits into the storyline of the Bible (pg. ix, emphasis original). Biblical theology is the theology of the Bible, and it is the attempt to understand and embrace the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors (ix). One of the greatest challenges that biblical theologians face is “how to handle the Bible’s manifest diversity and how to navigate the tension between its unity and diversity in a way that does justice to both” (ix).

Having a number of books, commentaries, and NT and whole Bible theologies under his belt (seen here), Thomas Schreiner writes the first volume in the new Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation (BTCP) series. The BTCP series plans to span commentaries across both testaments, looking at the theology of the entire Bible. And while, like all commentaries, there will be an exegetical treatment of the text, the main focus of this series is in discussing the themes of the book and how they fit into the canon as a whole for Christian proclamation. This series doesn’t aim at being a dense, academic work. It seeks to present Biblical theology to the lives of all who sit in the pew every Sunday morning.

Schreiner starts off his Introduction by saying that his “introduction and the commentary are relatively brief and nontechnical” (1). I would say that Schreiner hits the mark. His introduction is roughly the same length as O’Brien’s, and his exegesis is a little over 100 pages shorter than O’Brien’s (385 pages of exegesis, with the rest being the Introduction and Biblical Theological sections). If you’re familiar with the PNTC series, it’s not quite as technical as the BECNT or NIGTC. This is even less technical than the PNTC, and this will appeal to many.

  • Greek is always translated
  • Footnotes rarely take up half a page (apparently there are some who don’t like that)
  • Exposition on each verse is relatively brief (though sometimes too brief)

The commentary starts off with the Introduction which covers topics like Date, Authorship, Genre and Structure, Hebrews and the Storyline of the Bible, Biblical and Theological Structures [you can read my others posts about this section here], etc.

The commentary proper consists of:

  • Section Heading: “Hebrews 2.10-18”
  • Outline: While helpful, it’s also a bit much as it takes up a lot of space since every section has an outline, and they get longer as the book nears the end
  • Scripture: the passage of Hebrews 2.10-18 is given in full
  • Context: Explains how v10 picks up where v9 left off and how the argument continues through to v18
  • Exegesis: Schreiner carefully works through the text. Each verse can have between one and seven paragraphs
  • Bridge: This is the theology of the passage in a nutshell.

At the end of the commentary is the Biblical Theological section. Schreiner clearly and succinctly ties the letter together and reveals the unity of the letter under topics such as God, Jesus Christ (and his Divine Sonship, humanity, Priesthood, sacrifice, assurance, and resurrection and exaltation), the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit, Warnings, Assurance, and more.

Recommended?

While it may not be what the academic is looking for so much, this is volume is suited for the pastor, the student, and the layman. Hebrews has long been a difficult book for many a teacher and student. Having a commentary which comes from the deep well of a biblical scholar that is also easily accessible to many is hard to find, but a pleasure to read. If this is a taste of what is to come with this series, than there will be many who will be very pleased to eat up this series (and this volume).

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[Special thanks to Chris at B&H Academic for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]

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