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5 Stars Out Of 5
September 10, 2017
Volume 4 of the Expositors Bible Commentary EBC) series continues the winning record this revision has had of the popular, much beloved original EBC series. In the revised set, volume 4 covers from Chronicles to Job. In this case, we have two new authors (on Chronicles and Esther) creating completely new works along with two authors (on Ezra and Nehemiah and Job) doing a revision.
The new work on Chronicles was handled by Frederick Mabie. By all accounts this is a thorough, conservative improvement over the older series. He provides a succinct, interesting Introduction to First and Second Chronicles. In addition to great text, he provides a few charts and graphs that greatly enhance the work. He deviates from the usual synoptic approach to Chronicles with Samuel and Kings. That makes this a stronger commentary on the Chronicles itself. Im particularly glad to have this work.
Edwin Yamauchi revises his work on Ezra and Nehemiah. Immediately I noticed substantial updating in the Introduction in some places. Hes clearly an expert in history and packs an incredible amount of great information into the Introduction. The maps were much improved as well. This is a helpful commentary including textual notes after each commentary.
Elaine Phillips writes on Esther. Not only is this a substantial improvement over the older set, it superior to many other commentaries on Esther available today. For one reason shes not so skeptical of Esthers history! She admits the problems, but doesnt find them insurmountable. The Introduction is brief, but good. I consider this a real asset.
Tremper Longman revised Elmer Smicks well-received commentary on Job with the goal of updating the scholarship but keeping Smicks conclusions intact. Since this commentary was well received in the past I think this was an outstanding way to handle Job in this series. Theres conservative conclusions, a fine chart on page 682, followed by good explanation on parallelism. There is good description of the characters and language before we get into the commentary. Again, its very helpful.
This would be a great volume for pastors, especially if you consider its great value in covering from Chronicles through Job for a fair price. Dont miss this one!
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 Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255.
The entire NIV text is included within the commentary. I am not real thrilled about that feature. It probably increases the price of the volume to include a copyrighted Bible translation within the commentary. On the other hand, Zondervan owns the copyright and they also publish this commentary; so what am I complaining about? Probably not price. It certainly makes the volume more thick. I very rarely read a commentary without having my own favorite Bible translation open in front of me. The only time I can think of when I like having the Bible text within the commentary is when I am a passenger in a car and I am reading. My lap is too unaccommodating to hold two books open at the same time. In general, I think including the Bible text, especially from a main-stream translation, to be a waste of space.
I like how the commentary features textual notes; but not on every other word (like the Anchor and the Word commentaries). What notes are included are only those of major interest to an average reader.
The quality of writing is outstanding all through this commentary and from each commentator. The readability, clarity and conciseness of thought are what I see as the most attractive features of this series. The aim of the comments are to help the reader understand the Bible text. Commentators very rarely, if ever, insist upon a particular slant, of several, to understanding a passage. I found that the writers' main focus is to help readers understand the text. That makes a commentary truly useful.
I appreciate that the commentators are able to include a "Reflection" section after the Comments and Notes. In the Reflections section, the commentator is able to make personal applications and illustrations that are not necessarily originally intended by the inspired writers but are nevertheless appropriate applications to modern Christians.
I noticed there are many charts and diagrams interspersed throughout the volume. I found all of them to be attractively designed and equally helpful. Seeing something graphically presented means a lot to right-brained people like me.
All in all, if a commentator is able to be too detailed or too brief, the Expositor's Bible Commentary writers err on the side of being too brief. As an example, I will offer Job 1:21.
Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised. (NIV)
Commentator Elmer B. Smick (with moderate revisions of Tremper Longman III) observes some interesting technical detail about this verse. There is much theological discussion to be made about this verse. These were words of Job but we are not confident Job had a proper understanding of how reality works. Certainly, Job was unaware of the background story that led up to the terrible events that motivated Job's statement. Smick discusses as much in his commentary; but he does not recognize in writing that there are major theological questions over whether or not what Job said is even true! Here is what Smick (and/or Longman) says: "Here the attitude of Job... is one of supreme faith and total recognition to God's sovereign will. Job does not understand why but he believes that his trouble come [sic] from God." Sorry guys. That's too brief.
If we are truthful, in most of our personal Bible study, we are in a hurry. Rarely do we dive deeply into the Word and really experience it. The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Revised Edition, encourages us to slow down a little while still getting to the main point with very little delay. From my review of Volume 4 of this set, I am confident that all the volumes are very useful to any student of Scripture--excepting a scholar. The scholar will want more.