Interview with Tiberius Rata on Ezra and Nehemiah in Mentor Bible Commentary Series

 

A native of Romania, Tiberius Rata, B.S., M.Div., Ph.D., is the chair of the Biblical Studies Department and professor of Old Testament Studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Institute for Biblical Research and has presented papers at the national conventions of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is married to Carmen and they have two sons.

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

When I was teaching at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, a representative from Christian Focus came to speak to faculty about research interests. I asked them if they had any openings for any of their commentary series and they said they needed someone to do Ezra/Nehemiah. I said I would love to do it, so here we are : )

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

The commentary is written for pastors and serious Bible students. It’s outlined in a preachable (2-4 points per chapter) format. So, pastors, students, and lay Christians can benefit. The commentary can be used as a textbook for Bible courses. I will be using it for our Old Testament Bible Exposition course.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Ezra and Nehemiah?

I try to write wholistically, in the sense that besides dealing with the text, I try to include relevant archaeological discoveries. Also, I do biblical theology (not pure OT theology) by looking at the text Christologically. Also, I try to have an application point or two.

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

You hear a lot about the lost 10 tribes of Israel. Ezra-Nehemiah is clear that all tribes were represented at the return from exile.

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

A quote from Derek Kidner regarding Ezra 7:10, ” With study, conduct, and teaching put deliberately in this right order, each was able to function properly and at its best: study was preserved from unreality, conduct from uncertainty, and teaching from insincerity and shallowness.”

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

Any commentary by Derek Kidner I found very useful.

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

I’ve written commentaries on Jeremiah (with Walter Kaiser) and Ecclesiastes (interdisciplinary commentary with Kevin Roberts). I am starting two interdisciplinary commentaries (theology/psychology) on Job and Proverbs. There is a chance that I’ll be writing another one with Christian Focus for the same Mentor series, but we don’t have signed contract yet.


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