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5 Stars Out Of 5
July 17, 2017
This book by Philip Towner is an impressive entry in the venerated New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) series. Towner had already published on the Pastorals before this major work, and was known for assisting Howard Marshall on his earlier ICC work. Its clearly a top-5 work on the Pastorals today and is the favorite of many. Even though, I couldnt agree with his egalitarian viewpoint, I cant deny the quality of his scholarship and the skill of writing in this work.
He provides a huge Introduction running through page 90 with a substantial bibliography preceding it. Though hes not too keen on the label Pastoral Epistles, he sees value in addressing the three letters together and takes that approach in this Introduction. After addressing a few preliminary issues, he jumps into the major division in scholarly discussion on these lettersdid Paul write them, or did even the same author write them ?and he lays out the battle lines clearly. Im more confident of the traditional viewpoints than he is, but I enjoyed his evenhanded explanations. Authorship issues bleed into historical setting and he upholds his quality discussion throughout. He covers theology, structure, and other introductory matters with great depth as well.
As you would expect in a NICNT volume, the commentary is on the English text with deeper exegetical comments in the footnotes. What you end up with is an usable volume with access to more specialized exegetical matters. The commentary itself is top-notch and enlightening for the reader. Towner used the NICNT format to good advantage and provides us with a volume well worth checking out. I recommend it!
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.
In some ways, this is a model commentary. It is as thorough as could be imagined. The high page count is ably used to examine all possible issues. Towner is well schooled in this portion of Scripture and his time spent there is evident throughout. But I am sadly frustrated by his handling of 1 Timothy 2, the well known passage regarding women in the church. It is not that I disagree with his conclusions, although I do. Such disagreements are often productive. It is rather that I am saddened by the argument he has constructed to buttress his position. In this area of the book, he moves from solid ground to speculation and constructs his case upon soft sand. To me, this is a decision that has far reaching repercussions in today's world and the quest for an egalitarian application of Scripture, seemingly at all costs. When ideology dictates to exegesis, the results are tainted.
Towner has done a marvellous job in this commentary. This is probably the most exhaustive commentary on the pastorals with more than 900 pages. The arguments are well reasoned and his conclusions worthy of consideration.
I gave it 4 stars simply because it is not as clearly written as Mounce's commentary and his egalitarian presuppositions are read into 1 Timothy 2:9-15. Mounce's exegesis is more solid.
Other than that, this is a great commentary on the Pastorals.
Towner had already spent many years wrestling with these epistles prior to the completion of this book. He was involved in the production of Marshall's commentary and had written his own full-length commentary in the IVP series. So it is no surprise to find that his NIC work reflects such a high level of competence. The introduction is very detailed and very helpful as is the commentary proper. In many ways this is written in the tradition of Kelly, Guthrie, and Fee, but the space provided allows for a much more in-depth analysis. And while the work of others serves as a foundation for much of what is found here, Towner clearly presents an independent approach as well. Particularly helpful are the remarks concerning the need to examine the Pastoral Epistles individually in addition to considering them as a unit. This is an excellent work and is well worth the price. I recommend it highly.