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St. Paul, MN
5 Stars Out Of 5
superb resource - unpacks the Hebrew text for today's Christian
September 10, 2014
St. Paul, MN
Volume 2 of Allen Rosss superb commentary on Psalms does not disappoint. It matches the excellence of his first volume, which I previously reviewed. Ross distills the insights of decades of research and study on the book of Psalms into a single tool that can truly be a one-stop-shop for the busy pastor. When the final volume of this commentary set is made available (later this year), students of the Word will have over 2700 pages of seasoned analysis and accessible information on all 150 Psalms.
Having provided a detailed introduction in his first volume, this book starts right up with Psalm 42, and continues through Psalm 89. Ross covers each psalm separately. He begins with his own translation of the text complete with footnotes pointing out meaningful textual variants. The psalms composition and context is then briefly sketched and an exegetical analysis (or outline) is provided. Then comes a detailed verse-by-verse commentary focusing on exposition, and all this is wrapped up with a brief recounting of the message and application of the psalm.
Ross aims to help modern preachers and teachers to truly exposit all of the psalms in their entirety (not just a line here and there). He blends contemporary insights with gems of yesterday as he analyzes the Psalms and provides a very useful tool for the modern preacher. Ross with help from the team at Kregel, has crafted his tool to be most user-friendly. The font is large, there are helpful charts and diagrams, and clear section headings which break up the massive book. He uses footnotes throughout for more technical discussions, but chooses not to provide Hebrew transliterations as a rule, preferring just English translations and the Hebrew words themselves.
Rosss approach sticks to the text and emphasizes linguistic study. He does comment on the use of the Psalms in the New Testament and is not afraid to mine the typological and messianic riches so often found in Psalms. Biblical theology, and intratextual allusions and connections are not featured prominently in his work. But his volume is a wealth of information for the busy pastor or lay teacher, and his care with the text is commendable.
I will be looking for volume three of this important set. Im sure it will make a valuable addition to your church or home library. Pastors and students alike will want to pick up this resource and with Rosss help unpack the riches to be found in the Hebrew Psalter.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Christianaudio.com. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review.
I read the exposition of Genesis by Ross entitled Creation and Blessing and became a fan of him and his style. That exposition was perfect for me and my level of knowledge as is this commentary/exposition of the Psalms. According to Ross it's for pastors, teachers and all serious students of the Bible. This commentary isn't quite as academic as Goldingay's, but it's also not for new Christians. It's very thorough, and didn't leave me wanting. In fact, he answers questions I didn't know I had.
Volume 2 isn't as long as the first one, being about 100 pages shorter at 841. This is because it doesn't have the excellent introduction that's in Volume 1. It starts right off with Psalm 42. There is no index of any kind at the end of this volume or Volume 1, so I would assume that Volume 3 will. Volume 2 is exactly the same color and height as Volume 1, so they will look good next to each other on your bookshelf. The cover art is on the cover itself, so it doesn't have a dust jacket, which I like.
The first section for each Psalm is the Introduction that includes Text and Textual Variants, which is the author's own translation and plenty of footnotes on words, phrases and comparisons to the Greek version, which is very educational and is but one of the strengths of the commentary. I always like reading the author's translation. To me it's like a bonus, since I love comparing translations. One example would be in Psalm 73:4, which has literally-their body is fat, which the trusty NASB has (ESV has "fat and sleek"--huh?). I've seen the mention of fat being written in a positive light elsewhere in the Old Testament and that has always puzzled me, especially since I've always been into fitness. Ross says that this is figurative for flourishing and healthy. (So this can't be used as an excuse.) He translates it as 'healthy'. So does the literal translation convey the meaning? That's getting off track, but he gives you this type of information just in the translation and footnotes alone. Also interesting (to me) is right off in Psalm 42:5 and 11 use the word 'murmur', which none of the popular translations that I looked at use. Murmuring is something that I've written about in the past.
Next comes Composition and Context which is basically a short introduction with any information that will be helpful in understanding the Psalm as a whole. Then there is Exegetical Analysis which might have a short comment on the genre and structure, and then a short Summary with an outline. The commentary itself is titled Commentary In Expositional Form. Sometimes he will go verse by verse and sometimes groups verses. The exposition is more like what you would hear in a sermon as opposed to a word by word exegesis of the original language, although he does delve into it fairly often, giving a short definition for each word or phrase, so you don't have to know any Hebrew, or Greek when commenting on the Septuagint. Although it's expositional, he sticks strictly to the text. There are no stories, anecdotes or personal opinions that don't belong. Everything is very focused and orderly without being dry, partly because of the last section being a short Message and Application. He seems to follow C.S. Lewis' philosophy in not using big words when he doesn't have to. A good commentator doesn't need to show off their vocabulary just for the sake of it. Something else a good commentator like Ross does is help you to learn to read Scripture better in general.
Although he interacts with other commentators, this isn't a commentary on commentaries, or leave you wishing you would have just read the people he's quoting instead of the book you bought.
I'm not one to be able to comment on any theological bent regarding the Old Testament and Psalms in particular, other than he is evangelical. He seems very objective and doesn't insert any obvious biases and slants. I think this makes it a great commentary for a wide audience.
If I could write anything at all negative it would be that the font size is actually a little larger than what I like, which is a plus for many people, and the lack of indices. We won't know how good those will be until we see the final Volume 3. Otherwise, like his commentary on Genesis, it's nearly perfect for me and if you buy it, I hope you feel the same. It's not cheap and doesn't come in Kindle format.
If the publisher wouldn't have provided a free copy for an unbiased review, I would have bought it.
Continuing the excellence we found in volume 1, this volume covers Psalms 42-89. Mr. Ross is a steady hand in the Psalms and provides a treasure trove for pastors and Bible students.
The format is ideal. First, you have the text with choice exegetical notes. Then you have a section entitled "Composition and Context." This is especially helpful in the Psalms, and I notice Mr. Ross takes time to discuss the biblical background as well as how Christians used the Psalms in the past. He does a great job relating the New Testament as well.
He provides an exegetical analysis, which is really just a detailed outline, for those who think in terms of outlines. Finally, he gives a "Commentary In Expository Form" that is outstanding and contains copious footnotes. It is well done in a way that an expositor would have to love. He will bring out things you did not know.
This is a quality piece of work and we wish him well in delivering volume 3. I know I really want all the Psalms covered by this scholar who writes with a distinct warmth. This volume along with the few other released volumes bodes well for the Kregel Exegetical Commentary series as well.
I received this book free from the publisher. 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.
I must admit that I wondered why another commentary on Psalms was needed. What could this say that has not already been said on these Psalms? I changed my mind when I started reading it. It is written in the practical style that Ross has exhibited in his earlier works. While the book is scholarly, it is also strongly pastoral in its approach. One could classify it as scholarly-homiletical in approach. His approach is unique, not like any other commentary on my shelf (I have over a dozen on the Psalms). It is his approach and style that makes this commentary worth space on the shelf.
His scholarship is impressive, but not overbearing. In evaluating the work, I looked at number of Psalms. I found the work solid and informative. One that I looked at was Psalm 67. All the Psalms are arranged with the same structure. He opens each Psalm with the Text and Textual Variants, but the technical notes are concise, direct, and understandable. All the technical information is in footnotes, so as to not interfere with the reading of the text itself. He gives his own translation of the text and is qualified to do so since he taught Hebrew.
He moves then to the composition and context of the Psalm. In this Psalm, he points out that the event behind it is the harvest. He, however, sees it as a prayer, not a thanksgiving (as is common). It is a harvest prayer, but is broader than just a present harvest, having in view a future blessing of all people. Its theme is both eschatological and missionary in vision.
He then moves to an exegetical analysis of the passage. He does so in two ways: A summary sentence. For example of Psalm 67 he says: "Praying for God's mercy and blessing so that his ways may be known among the nations, the palmist calls all people to praise God for his equitable providence and material blessings" (page 444). It is succinct, catching the essence of the Psalm. Second, he gives an exegetical outline of the passage. I found these very helpful and insightful, in that they give us the structure of the passage, and a foundation for his commentary.
He follows the exegetical outline in the commentary in expository form. His expository to Psalm 67 has four points:
â€¢ The faithful pray for divine favor so that the world will know the saving way of the Lord (67:1-2).
â€¢ All people on earth should praise God for his equitable providence (67:3-4).
â€¢ All people on earth should praise god because of his bounty in the harvest (67:5-6a).
â€¢ The faithful pray for divine favor so that the world will fear the Lord (67:6b-7).
I give this so one can get a feel for his expository method. It is simple, but not simplistic. It displays a solid understanding of the text in concise, understandable points.
He ends each Psalm with its message and application. In the case of Psalm 67 his application deals both with having a missionary vision and an eschatological application.
This work shows that Ross is not only a very good scholar but a good communicator. His method is direct, concise, thoughtful, and practical. His style is reader friendly, enjoyable to read, understandable, and accessible to those without formal theological training. It is uplifting as well as educational. He gives the essence of the passage, avoiding getting bogged down in theological controversy and ideas that bore many readers. Yet, you know where he stands on the issues.
The only drawback that I see is no introductory material whatsoever is included. If one does not have the first volume to draw from, there could be some questions about the Psalms left unanswered. I feel some introductory comments are needed and would have been helpful. Not every one buys books in series order. It leaves a void in those who gets the second volume before they do the first. Thus I give it 4 stars for that reason.
Every preacher and Bible teacher will appreciate and use this work numerous times over the years. It will be a helpful addition for your library.
[Thanks to Kregel Publications for providing a free copy of this book for my honest review.]