Nahum Bible Commentary: Interview with Gregory Cook

Gregory Cook Nahum

Gregory D. Cook holds a PhD in Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation from Westminster Theological Seminary. He has written a number of academic articles that may be found at http://minorprophets.org/articles/ or https://independent.academia.edu/GregCook2. You may contact Greg via http://minorprophets.org/contact/.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Nahum?

My fascination with Nahum began when I decided to preach through Nahum. I really struggled in that series, but I became captivated by the final verse:

“There is no easing your hurt; your wound is grievous. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?” (Nah. 3:19 ESV)

To me, it seemed a prophecy of Satan’s doom and I began looking for evidence of this within Nahum. I found much more than I expected, and this became the foundation for my Ph.D. dissertation. That dissertation eventually led to Severe Compassion.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

Severe Compassion is the latest in a series entitled The Gospel According to the Old Testament. The purpose of the series is to help those in the Church understand how various portions of the Old Testament prophesy of Christ and are fulfilled in Christ. I wanted to provide a resource for preachers and Bible study leaders to preach and teach through Nahum; I believe all of Scripture deserves attention and I knew that there were few resources to help someone who wanted to understand Nahum’s significance. My book provides enough material for a sermon series but is written so that high school student can understand it. Anyone who has little understanding of Nahum, but desires more, could read my book devotionally.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to the study of Nahum?

Nahum is the least-known, least-taught, and least-preached book in the Bible. Each book of the Bible is important—none is redundant. Severe Compassion gives preachers and laity a tool to understand the historical situation of Nahum as well as its application to the modern Christian. Furthermore, it is explicitly Christocentric. The purpose of reading Nahum—or any biblical text—is to exalt and reveal Christ. Unfortunately, many commentaries on the Old Testament do not give this aspect of biblical interpretation the attention it deserves. I do not know of any other book devoted to Nahum that interprets Nahum in a Christocentric manner.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I have an interest in ministries fighting human trafficking. Because of this, I found Nahum 3:4–7 fascinating as it condemned ancient Assyria for its wide-scale human trafficking. I wrote two chapters on those four verses. The parallels between ancient Assyria and modern traffickers are striking. This has implications for our understanding of Christ as our Redeemer as well as the Church’s role in spreading God’s love.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

Bull-hunt wall sculpture from 7th century B.C. Ninevah

Bull-hunt wall sculpture, 7th century B.C. Ninevah

Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 ESV). Any portion of Scripture that we understand more deeply will bring freedom. I had the rare privilege of writing a dissertation in which I was fascinated by the subject, came to a greater understanding of Jesus, and reached conclusions that I believe will help the Church. The period of time I spent researching and writing my dissertation and Severe Compassion were sweet times because I was discovering and communicating truths from an oft-neglected prophet.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Nahum?

This question is more difficult for Nahum than for other books. First of all, there are not very many books on Nahum. Usually a commentary series will have an author produce a work on several Minor Prophets at once—typically Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah will be treated together. The second—and more significant—problem is that most Nahum books treat the prophecy as a three-chapter lesson on God’s general judgment against wickedness. For instance, one well-known conservative commentator wrote,

“The book of Nahum runs the risk of being monotonous because of the singularity of the author’s purpose and theme. He is intent on saying only one thing: Nineveh shall fall. But the variety of methods which he employs in saying this one thing are quite remarkable and lend great force to his message.”

Unfortunately, this idea that Nahum has a simple and singular message is found in most of the literature. I found many books on Nahum helpful in some way, but none that I would recommend as a whole.

7. What’s next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

It is increasingly common for evangelicals to interpret the book of Jonah as a parable rather than a historical event. The constant assault and ridicule of Jonah as real history has caused some to say we were not meant to interpret Jonah literally. The problems extend beyond the question of the fish. Commentators find the human behavior of the sailors, prophet, and (most notably) the Ninevites problematic. I believe the 8th century B.C. provides substantial evidence that the events of Jonah are an accurate historical record. This is my current project.

My website (www.minorprophets.org) is the best way to keep up with my writing. As items are published, I update the website and post the articles there if allowed by the publisher. The website also has the first chapter of Severe Compassion available for downloading in either e-book or audiobook form, as well as links to some of the online retailers who offer the print, e-book, or audiobook for sale. Currently, christianaudio.com is running a $5 promotional price for the audiobook, which is the cheapest way to obtain it.


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