Review: A Commentary on Commentaries?

Commentary on Commentaries

We have so many commentaries on the Bible, books of the Bible, and sections and themes of the Bible. Do we really need another commentary?

Yes.

The more theologians study a book, it’s cultural background, and the information in relation to other books of the Bible and ancient sources, the more commentaries will abound.

So why this book?
Because there are a ton of commentaries! One can’t buy every single one. We don’t have the money nor the time to do so.

Instead, John F. Evans has done it for us in A Guide to Biblical Commentaries & Reference Works. For the past 20+ years (since I was born in 1989), he’s been compiling information on other commentaries for this Reference Guide. This isn’t the first edition he’s written. There have actually been 9 editions so far, and it is written with the student, the pastor, and the scholar in mind.

The Chocolate Milk

He starts off the book by giving the reader “Two Warnings for Orientation” and about how commentaries are not to be used as a crutch. No matter how many commentaries you do read, nor how many you want to read, they do not replace your own personal Bible study efforts. All commentators have their own background of ideas and beliefs (conservative, liberal, and all in between). None of them will be 100% right, even if you combined them all. You need to use and be able to use your own mind in studying the Bible.

Then he gives a few pages for “Book Format,” “Evaluating Commentaries,” “Background Reading,” etc. After the short intro Evans gets into the good stuff.

He goes book by book giving a list of his top commentaries and why they are good. After his highlights, he gives a successive list of other commentaries on what’s good, decent, or is just a plain waste. And it’s amazing the vast amounts of detail he gives overall. Where someone finds this kind of time for a quality reference book like this is beyond me.
He gives information about:

  1. All 66 books,
  2. 9 different topical studies (The Minor Prophets, Apocalyptic Literature, Jesus and His Parables, etc) 
  3. Bargains for a Bare-Bones Library
  4. Ideal Basic Library for the Pastor
  5. The Ultimate Reference Library

There’s a link to a PDF on the bottom of the page to view a sample of the book.

Evans doesn’t simply give information. Practically speaking, he often includes whether a commentary is more useful for the student, the pastor, or the scholar. He notes if a commentary is so large and dense that the average pastor may find little value for weekly his preparation, but a student or scholar will find the book of great value. This is also a wonderful help because no commentary is the same. Some have much more applicational value (NIV Application Commentary [NIVAC]) while others are much more detailed (New International Greek Testament Commentary [NIGTC]).

This man has both pastoral and academic interests, and is very considerate of his audience.

The Spoiled Milk

This is a superbly, up-to-date reference book. But sometimes Evans talks more about the commentator than about the commentary itself. Though often when he does speak on the commentator, one can see the commentator’s perspective and know if they would find the commentary useful of not.

Recommended?

If you are a pastor or a student who is of the kind which uses commentaries, this book will save you time and money. Although since you’ll know which commentaries are the ‘good’ ones, you may end up spending more money buying them all. Regardless, this ought to be added to your library.

There are two single Testament commentaries out now. One is authored by Tremper Longman (Old Testament Commentary Survey), the other by D. A. Carson (New Testament Commentary Survey), but Evans gives more detail in his whole Bible guide.

Lagniappe

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Doulos Resources; 9th edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Amazon
  • PDF: Includes Introduction, Index, and three samples (the Pentateuch, Genesis, and Matthew). This will give you a good taste of the book as a whole.
  • An additional website that is very helpful in finding good commentaries: Best Commentaries

Four Views

4 Views; Works at Final Judgment

ZondervanPublishers has a great series of books called Four Views (ranging from three to five views about a certain topic in the Bible). Each Four Views book includes four different theologians who state their claim on what they believe the Bible says about the topic at hand. Zondervan just came out with a new book titled Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment, which is a look at the doctrine of how works comes into play with salvation. Are we saved merely by faith alone? Are we saved by our works too? What about eternal rewards? Is works just a sign of God’s work in our lives as new creations?

The Four Views and their Respected Authors are:
Robert N. Wilkin
:
Works will determine rewards but not salvation:
At the Judgment Seat of Christ each believer will be judged by Christ who will determine the one’s eternal rewards, but he remains eternally secure even if the judgment reveals he failed to persevere in good works (or in faith).

Thomas R. Schreiner:
Works will provide evidence that one actually has been saved:
At the final judgment works provide the necessary condition, though not the ground for final salvation, in that they provide evidence as to whether one has actually trusted in Jesus Christ.

James D. G. Dunn:
Works will provide the criterion by which Christ will determine eternal destiny of his people:
Since Paul, Jesus, and the New Testament writers hold together ‘justification by faith and not by works’ with ‘judgment according to works’, we should not fall into the trap of playing one off against the other or blend them in a way that diminishes the force of each.

Michael P. Barber:
Works will merit eternal life:
At the final judgment, good works will be rewarded with eternal salvation. However, these good works will be meritorious not apart from Christ but precisely because of the union of the believer with him.

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I agree with Wilkin and Schreiner, though at this present moment I’m wanting to look into the idea of eternal rewards. It’s not that I don’t believe it, It’s just something I want to study more of. And given that I’d like to teach 2 Corinthians one day, and the idea of eternal rewards [possibly] crops up in the letter, it looks as if I’ll be studying it pretty soon.

I read part of the Hell book for my theology class. I read the Conditional [Annihilational] view and wrote a paper against it. The books are a good way to grasp other beliefs about for and against the doctrines we hold. You will become more familiar with the other sides of the argument so that at least you won’t be surprised when you hear someone bring it up. Reading the Conditional view (and writing a paper against it) helped me to formulate what I thought about the doctrine of hell.

Check out the Amazon reviews too. These books can be pretty cheap!

2 Views on Amazon:

3 Views on Amazon:

4 Views on Amazon:

5 Views on Amazon

6 Views on Amazon

Spoiled Milk Blog

If you’re thinking this is the Spoiled Milk Blog, you’re correct.
Only now it’s not Spoiled Milk Blog.
It’s Spoiledmilks.
I did this because I like the name better, it’s a little simpler, and I doubt there have been enough people on this page to be disappointed with the name change.

Now with the rest of the summer is ahead of me, I plan to be on here more.

Rob Bell

As of late I’d like to review some of Rob Bell’s books. You might originally know him from his NOOMA films which were from the 2000s. Or you might know him from many of his some-what controversial books like Velvet Elvis and Sex God to his much-what controversial turnover Love Wins. I’ve seen an Amazon reviewer liken Love Wins to C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce (interesting connection, I must say). I have yet to read the book though.

Bell even has a new book out called What We Talk About When We Talk About God. His books are controversial, and I want to know why . What do I think about it? I can read all the reviews about it that I want, but I won’t know what it says until I read the real thing.

If anyone has any of these books I would love to read them.
Maybe they’ll even show up on here.

Delicious

Against the Gods

Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament

“Did the Old Testament writers borrow ideas from their pagan neighbors? And if they did, was it done uncritically? A respected Old Testament scholar and archaeologist engages with this controversial question by carefully comparing the biblical text to other ancient Near Eastern documents. Well-researched and thoughtfully nuanced, Currid aims to outline the precise relationship between the biblical worldview and that of Israel’s neighbors” (Crossway).

Did Moses plagiarize the Flood story from surrounding cultures and put a monotheistic twist on it? Did the surrounding pagan cultures have it correct from the get-go? Moses grew up in Egypt so it would be easy to carry over a few details to create a well-crafted story about the creation of the world to the now-freed people of Israel. Or, more likely, Moses wrote from the perspective of monotheism as a polemic to put down the incorrect notions of the pagan cultures.

In his newest book, Against the Gods, John Currid talks about topics from Creation to the Flood, to Moses’ life in Egypt, to the plagues, and on Yahweh’s supremacy over Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt.

I’ve listened to his three 40 minute lectures from iTunesU, and while listening to Ancient near eastern facts might not sound like fun, after I finished the three tracks I was eager for more. Currid speaks on the significance of the plagues (how each one was against either the Pharaoh or a god of Egypt), the importance of the serpent in Egyptian eyes, and what ‘hardening Pharaoh’s heart’ meant for the original readers, to name a few.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s so great about the first 15 chapters of Exodus, then be on the lookout for this book.

Lagniappe

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a percentage of revenue if you buy from Amazon on my blog. 

Luke (BECNT) by Darrell Bock

Luke (BECNT) 2-Set Commentary by Darrell Bock

Just received this yesterday! I’ve been waiting to get this for months, and fortunately I was able to get it for my birthday. I can’t wait to go through these. These books are HUGE. The font size was larger than I expected, which is good for seeing, but it makes the book size Incredible.

The author is Darrell Bock who is an evangelical New Testament scholar/research professor of NT studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). He is well-coursed in Luke/Acts. He is a Progressive Dispensationalist. If you’re wondering what the heck that is (trust me, I understand), one of my teachers (Lindsay Kennedy) at CCBC York has interviewed Bock and will be posting the interview soon. His blog is called Mydigitalseminary.You can be sure that I will be referencing him a lot.

I’m really looking forward to studying Luke. It’s a class I’ve only seen once in my 4 semesters at Bible College, and it’s a very interesting book (all the Gospels are!) to read.

Amazon:

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More on Bock

Bock wrote Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone’s Asking, which challenges the historicity of various extra-biblical ideas expressed in Dan Brown’s, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (most notably the supposed marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene).

Bock also wrote The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities, which argues for the existence and legitimate office of early Christian proto-orthodoxy (the Early Christian movement which was the forerunner of Christian orthodoxy) over non-canonical gospels and beliefs.

Basically, some believe that ‘proto-Christianity’, becoming prominent by the end of the 3rd century, “stifled its opposition, … claimed that its views had always been the majority position and that its rivals were, and always had been, ‘heretics,’ who willfully ‘chose’ to reject the ‘true belief’” (Bart Ehrman).

In The Missing Gospels, Darrell Bock works to refute that idea. It’s focus and concern is on the later, alternative gospels, their un-authenticity (why we don’t read them like we do the Gospels), and the various so-called ‘Christianities’ during that time.

I haven’t read the two books, but I am interested in them seeing as though many people, upon hearing that there are ‘alternative gospels’ immediately move to discredit the Bible. But one must read what these alternative gospels say before he discredits the Bible.

Amazon

Visas

I do not enjoy the visa process. I took my picture at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, but they never gave me the picture. The lady told me I only have to send in a stamped paper she gave me. Well, I sent it in (along with other applications), and what do I see when I open my email today? A treasure chest of information on how my Visa Application couldn’t be processed until they get my picture.

Now sure, I shouldn’t have realized this before I walked out of the USCIS door, but the picture didn’t even cross my mind. I just assumed they were going to do something with it. No, that would be too easy. Most likely I will have to go over tomorrow to talk to the people in person since they don’t seem to have a phone number/email to contact them with. The phone number they do have goes to the Bus Station.

So I’m just praying that this all gets worked out and that I do, in fact, get to go to England for another semester.

In the Beginning…

If you’re wondering what I’m doing starting a blog about Spoiled Milk, well, it won’t be about spoiled milk. Don’t worry. I don’t have too many stories about that. If you’re wondering what I’m doing starting a blog called Spoiled Milks with posts that have nothing to do with spoiled milk, then you’re in a good place.

I don’t know what I’m thinking either.

I’ve now graduated from Calvary Chapel Bible College, and, now that I’m done, I’m returning to York as an intern. In the last two years I’ve gone from graduating with a Marketing degree to going international and knowing that I want to teach the Bible.

Since then I’ve read a few books, and I want to give you the opportunity to see what some of them are. I’ll put a few ‘odds-n-ends’ posts on here, but I’ll also being posting information on new books that are coming out along with reviewing some books so you can know what good books are out there and what they are about.

Hopefully it’s more entertaining than it sounds. You know how I can be….

Potential Upcoming Reviews

3 books I’d like to review soon are:

  1. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology by Tom Schreiner
  2. Jesus Is… by Judah Smith
  3. Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

Right now those are the only three books I have on the brain. If there are others you would like to know about, you could ask me. I make no promises given my short allotment of time and other books I want to read. But at least it’ll give me an idea of what you like to read.

Here’s to hoping this doesn’t become like my other “spoiled milk” blogs and, well, spoil.