Learn more about Exodus in the NIV College Press Commentary Series
Randall Bailey (Phd. Drew University) is the Professor of Bible and the Director of the Kearley Graduate School of Theology at Faulkner University. He primarily teaches Old Testament courses, including Hebrew and Aramaic. He teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate level. He has led over 20 trips to the former Soviet Union as a short-term missionary.
1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Exodus?
I had been a participant in writing the introductory volume to the series in which my Exodus Commentary appeared. As you know many series like this have an introductory volume that contains introductions to the Bible books in which commentaries are written for that series. In the College Press NIV Old Testament Introduction, I wrote Introductions to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Daniel. When I completed that, they asked me to write the commentary on Exodus. It had been delayed, but because I got my work in in a timely manner and my writing style fit with what we were doing in that series, I was most happy and honored to be asked to write this commentary.
2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?
That was one of the first questions I asked the College Press editors. I was told, “3rd and 4th year undergraduate Bible majors, graduate Bible students, pastors, professors, and Christians in local churches who desired to dig a little deeper into the word.”
3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Exodus?
I would not call it “unique,” but I liked the way Childs in his Exodus commentary employed the canonical approach. I decided to emend that methodology a little. Where Childs traced the use of specific passages by varying religious communities, I attempted to look at the Exodus passages as they resounded throughout the Bible and found their conclusion in the NT. Sometimes this was in prophecy, sometimes in typology, or some other means. However, this method was not so much just jumping from the passage in Exodus to its mention in the NT, but what were the implications of its use in the NT? How was the NT a commentary on the Exodus use?
For example, at the transfiguration when Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus about his “exodus,” what were these implications? The construction of the Tabernacle was for the purpose of allowing the Holy God to dwell among his people. Holiness when not appropriately approached, is dangerous. What are the implications of this and the fact that our very bodies are “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” and that “Christ dwells in us”? What are the implications of John saying that Jesus “tabernacled” among us? These and similar questions in the commentary pointed to these kinds of discussions in an attempt to make the “often-thought ‘boring'” parts of Exodus (the construction of the tabernacle and its furniture) more practical and useful
4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?
It was no so much a particular passage as it was the coming to understand how Exodus 32 split the book into “two books.” Prior to 32 God is continually stating he is doing this to honor his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that these are his people. In 32:7, God says, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” Not only is this humorous (“Wait until your father gets home!” “Let me tell you what your son did!”), but it implies a complete rejection of the people due to their sin. If the items of the Tabernacle were constructed to implement a worship allowing the people to approach God appropriately in the first chapters, the chapters after chapter 32 with its often repeated “Just as the Lord commanded so they did,” implies complete repentance and God’s forgiveness. The repetition of this statement shows emphatically these points. Where they had disobeyed, now they go the extra mile to obey exactly what God commanded.
5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?
I came to appreciate more the concept of holiness. The appropriate means had to be employed to approach the holy God. To approach the holy God without using the appropriate means, specifically obedience (cf. Lev 10) was dangerous. Having come to understand that, I now find it very difficult to describe what it means when Paul says in 1 Cor 6 that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. In that context, Paul shows the particular hideousness of sexual immorality. Taking the body that is made holy by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and immorally linking/joining it with that which is unholy. Ezekiel 10-12 shows God abandoning his temple. When will God abandon his temple in the NT when a Christian continues to push and engage in sinful activities?
6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Exodus?
I found all of them listed in my bibliography I found the four volume set by Dr. Cornelis Houtman in the Historical Commentary Old Testament the most useful. That commentary covers all issues, whether critical, preaching/teaching, or practical.
7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?
I am presently working on publishing some of the chapters of my dissertation. Last year I published one in Hebrew Studies. They need to be updated since the dissertation was completed in 1987. People may follow me easiest at Linkedin and Academia.edu, though I do not publish things there very often due to my activities of directing the Graduate Bible Program at Faulkner.
- Get Dr. Bailey’s commentary on Exodus at Amazon