Interview with O. Wesley Allen on Matthew (Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries)

O. Wesley Allen, Jr. (Ph.D., Emory Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 1996) is the Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics at SMU Perkins School of Theology. His teaching specialties include introduction to preaching, preaching the New Testament; exegesis for preaching; preaching in postmodernism; preaching through the liturgical year; theology in preaching; prophetic preaching; preaching in the context of worship. His research interests include preaching in postmodernity; conversational homiletics; cumulative approaches to preaching; preaching and the Synoptic Gospels; preaching and the human condition.

His books include Preaching and the Human Condition (Abingdon, forthcoming in 2016) and The Sermon without End: A Conversational Approach to Preaching, co-authored with Ronald J. Allen (Abingdon, 2015).

Dr. Allen is an ordained elder, The United Methodist Church, Indiana Annual Conference.

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

I focused my doctoral work on the Synoptic Gospels and have maintained that interest even as I have shifted my scholarly work more toward homiletics.

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

The book is intended for pastors. While the commentary follows the flow of Matthew, it also functions as a lectionary commentary, primarily focusing on the passages that appear in Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary.

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

The uniqueness of the commentary lies in part in the previous answer. But I also think I made some original exegetical observations along the way. Two examples. 1) I propose a geographical outline to Matthew. 2) My reading of the eschatological discourse and the parables embedded in it focus on an experiential interpretation of Mt’s eschatology and argues one of the primary rewards Matthew sees for being a part of the eschatological community of God’s already/not yet God’s reign is the vocation of higher responsibility.

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

I struggles most with the Sermon on the Mount. While I am pleased with the exegetical observations I offer in that section, I was quite overwhelmed for a while by the thought of adding my voices to the thousands of years of interpreting this beloved and controversial section.

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

As a homiletician, it was a great joy to return to a writing project with such a deep focus on the biblical text. I truly believe at the heart of Protestantism’s spiritual disciplines is biblical study. One cannot spend a few years working on the story of Christ and not be drawn closer to Christ in the process. To be honest, I have always thought of Mark as my favorite gospel (and hope to write a commentary on it one day); but my appreciation of the artistry and theological depth of Matthew’s portrait of Jesus increased exponentially through this project.

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

Two great commentaries on Matthew are the multivolume set by Ulrich Luz [Hermeneia] and by Allison and Davies [International Critical Commentary].

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

Most of my writing focuses on preaching and people can find my various homiletical books online. Two continuing threads of interest for me are the difficulty of preaching of preaching in postmodernism and a cumulative homiletic. I also have done some works with theological and social justice emphases. I am currently wrapping a project that has taken a number of years and pushing me into new territory. It is a digital ebook that will be an Introduction to Protestant Worship with Abingdon Press. To supplement the text, the books will include videos, audio files, and interactive elements.

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Interview with Tiberius Rata on Ezra and Nehemiah (Mentor)

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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Interview with Peter H. Davids on James (NIGTC)

Peter H. Davids (Phd, Victoria University of Manchester, 1974) is biblical scholar with professional focus on the Catholic Epistles. Dr. Davids is a professor of Christianity at Houston Baptist University and part-time professor at Houston Graduate School of Theology. He has taught biblical studies at Regent College (Vancouver, British Columbia) and Canadian Theological Seminary (Regina, Saskatchewan), and he continues to teach in theological schools in Europe.

Dr. Davids has written several books, including some of the best-reviewed New Testament commentaries. Other than his commentaries on James (see below), he has written commentaries on The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude in the Pillar series, II Peter and Jude in A Handbook on the Greek Text series, and The Epistle of First Peter in the NICNT series.

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

The NIGTC commentary was based on my doctoral research. One of the editors, who knew me, was staying in our home in Germany overnight and asked to borrow my thesis. What he read was apparently enough to convince him suggest to the other editor offering me a contract for James. And since the research was “in hand,” they wanted that commentary relatively quickly. The thesis itself started with a paper I wrote in seminary, which made clear to me that James was a book needing research.

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

The intended audience are those who are interested in James and can read at least some Greek. At the time of its writing, most seminary-trained pastors had taken Greek, so that was the biggest audience, but since the commentary engages the scholarly discussion going on about James, professors and other scholars were certainly in view. Some students in seminaries would have found it useful, as would a few lay Christians, but I would later write a commentary on James published by Hendrickson (1989) and later taken over by Baker for those who did not know Greek and finally A Biblical Theology of James, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude (BTNT: Zondervan, 2014), which would update the commentary and develop the theology for lay Christians, pastors, students, and professors.

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

The NIGTC commentary was a state-of-the-art scholarly commentary on James that was based on extensive background research. It used tools such as discourse analysis that were just being developed. I was aware of the latest developments in Jewish studies and Greek linguistics. At the time, there was no scholarly commentary on James like it, certainly not in English.

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

I found working on James 5:13-16 as particularly influential, for as I was finishing the commentary I was ordained, and God spoke clearly to me through that passage about my duty as a presbyter to pray for the sick. But in doing the research behind the commentary, passages such as James 1:13-18 and its echoes later in James were significant for I found the issue of the origin of sin in the person fascinating.

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

At the time of the writing, God was developing me into a pastor. I had always loved the church and thought I was pastoral, but during the work on the book I developed more of a heart for pastoral care. Thus understanding where God is in trials, how God gives good and not evil, where the sin in people (including me) came from, God’s role in giving life and providing the solution to our sinful tendencies, God’s great grace in receiving us back when we wander into spiritual adultery, and God’s provision of healing and forgiveness through the pastoral care of his presbyters were all significant for me. I realize how much Christ/God loved his church.

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

I would obviously include Peter H. Davids, A Biblical Theology of James, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude (BTNT: Zondervan, 2014), for that updates and extends ideas rooted in the original commentary. When it comes to other scholars, Dale C. Allison has written the most extensive commentary on James (ICC; T&T Clark): he has the data, even if I disagree with some of his positions. You cannot do extensive research on James without it. In German the best works are those of Hubert Frankenmölle (2 volumes) and Wiard Popkes. But for English readers Scot McKnight has a fine recent volume in the NICNT. Of course, there are specialized studies on various topics in James, especially in the journal literature, but they would be too many to list.

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

I have written at least two commentaries for each of the non-Johannine Catholic Letters, and out of that has come a continuing fascination, based on pastoral care, in the passions as the root of sin on a person’s life, how these passions were a concern for both Jewish and Stoic thought before James and the other Catholic Letters were written, the theological response in the New Testament, and how this was developed in the Patristic writers. Add in my interest in contemporary spiritual direction and family emotional systems, and one has the outline for what I hope will be my next book.

As for following me, I do have a website (www.davidsnet.ws/biblical) and a blog I sometimes write in (phdavids.com or www.phdavids.wordpress.com) and am on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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Interview with Paul Holloway on Philippians (Hermeneia)

Holloway PhilippiansPaul A. Holloway (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is the University Professor of Classics and Ancient Christianity. He teaches courses in both the School of Theology and the College of Arts and Sciences. Prior to teaching at Sewanee, he was senior lecturer in New Testament and Christian origins in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies in the University of Glasgow, Scotland.

A member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, he has published articles in such journals as Harvard Theological Review, Novum Testamentum, New Testament Studies, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, Vetus Testamentum, Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, Early Christianity, and the Journal of Biblical Literature.

He has written Consolation in Philippians (Cambridge 2001), Coping with Prejudice: 1 Peter in Social Psychological Perspective (Tübingen, 2009), Philippians: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis, 2017), and has edited Women and Gender in Ancient Religions (Tübingen, 2010). He is currently preparing a monograph on Romans for the German series Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament published by Mohr Siebeck, as well as a commentary on 1 Corinthians for the International Critical Commentary (ICC; ed. Christopher Tuckett, Oxford).

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

I first became interested in Philippians at Rice University when I wrote a paper on the letter in a seminar on Paul for Prof. Werner Kelber. That became the inspiration for my University Chicago dissertation, which treated various Stoic themes in the letter.

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 the generally educated reader. As in all commentaries in the Hermeneia series, sources are cited in the original language but with an English translation. It is unapologetically critical and historical, but I am also very interested in Paul’s thought.

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

Two distinctives come to mind: the commentary argues that Philippians is a letter of consolation; I also pay a good bit of attention to Paul’s mystical side.

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

I did not think I was going to enjoy writing on the so-called Christ Hymn in Phil 2:6-11, since so much has been written on it. But in fact it was great fun.

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

I was repeatedly struck by Paul’s courage and his obvious affection for the Philippians. It is easy to forget that this is one of the earliest “letters from prison” that we have. To read it alongside Martin Luther King’s profound Letter from a Birmingham Jail is deeply moving.

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

Frankly, I find John Chrysostom’s homilies on Philippians to be unsurpassed. There is also a short Latin commentary by Jerome that is full of insights, but it has yet to be translated.

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

I am writing the commentary on 1 Corinthians for the International Critical Commentary (ICC).

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Interview with John Hilber on Psalms (Zondervan Bible Backgrounds Commentary)

John W. Hilber (B.S., University of Washington; Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary; Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is professor of Old Testament at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is the author of several books, including Cultic Prophecy in the Psalms and the upcoming Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts. Dr. Hilber’s research interests include the Old Testament in its ancient near eastern religious and literary context.

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

I was working on my doctoral dissertation at Cambridge on Neo-Assyrian prophetic texts and question of cultic prophecy in the psalms when John Walton, the editor for the Zondervan Bible Background Commentary—Old Testament, asked me to write the commentary on Psalms. That was a big risk he took, asking a relatively untested scholar to tackle this project; and I’m forever grateful to him. Much of my doctoral study had been on Assyrian and Egyptian backgrounds to psalms, so it was a natural expansion of what I was already working on for my specific dissertation topic. I had previously spent 15 years in pastoral ministry, so he knew I had a good sense for what a pastor would find helpful.

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

The design of ZIBBCOT is to make relevant ancient Near Eastern background material accessible to non-specialists. The target audience is primarily pastors and laity interested in serious Bible study, as well as scholars who are not Old Testament scholars. At the same time, we were asked to support our comments from technical sources (something not provided in existing, non-technical commentaries). So, for example, the Psalms commentary offers around 800 endnotes that guide readers to primary sources and technical discussions.

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

As just mentioned, at the time of release, the only sources that shed light on the meaning of the biblical text from background studies were either very technical commentaries or works that were not adequately supported by reference citations. There were good commentaries on the exegesis and theology of the Psalms, but ZIBBCOT is unique in the attention it brings to archaeology and comparative ancient Near Eastern studies.

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

I think the most surprising thing to me was the nature of figurative language for suffering in the psalms. Imagery of physical and mental anguish pervade the psalter, and it is very similar to the type of poetic expressions found in other ancient hymns of lament. The important point is that as poetry, such language is intended to be stereotypical, so that any individual can enter into the emotions of the psalm without necessarily identifying with the exact circumstances of the psalmist.

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

A dominant theme of psalms is the role of the king in bringing the blessings of God’s kingdom to humanity. This responsibility for cosmic order can be seen in royal hymns and prayers throughout the ancient Near East; it is the groaning of every human heart. To know that it is my Jesus who will make the world right draws me to him in dependence and hope.

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

The classic commentary by Derek Kidner (original Tyndale Old Testament Commentary on Psalms) remains one of my first stops when studying a psalm for personal devotion or preparation for preaching. My thanks to InterVarsity for retaining this commentary in print in spite of its recent replacement for the series by another good commentator, Tremper Longman III. Appreciating the wholistic message of a psalm is so important, and no one has done this better than Allen P. Ross in his Kregel exegetical commentary.

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

I am co-editing with Jonathan Greer and John Walton a new book entitled Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament. It will be released by Baker Academic this coming fall (2018). There are over 65 introductory articles on nearly every important background topic for Old Testament studies, written by an international team of experts on their respective areas of specialization. In addition, I have just completed a book on Old Testament cosmology and the doctrine of divine accommodation, and I hope to complete a preacher’s commentary on Ezekiel by the end of the summer. I maintain a profile on academia.edu where I update my publications.

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Interview with Robert Wall on Acts (New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary)

Robert W. Wall (ThD, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979) is the Paul T. Walls Professor of Scripture and Wesleyan Studies at Seattle Pacific University where he has taught since 1978.

Robert Wall’s books and articles — whether aimed at other scholars or clergy — originate in the ferment of the university classroom and in conversation with his students and colleagues. In both his published research and classroom teaching, Dr. Wall approaches the Bible as a sacred text — a “production of the Holy Spirit” — and in a manner that forms a clearer understanding of God for the people of God.

His books include: A Compact Guide to the Whole Bible: Learning to Read Scripture’s Story, with David Nienhuis (Baker Academic Press, 2015), Why the Church? (Reframing New Testament Theology, Abingdon Press, 2015), and 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus in the Two Horizons commentary series (Eerdmans, 2012). Follow the link at the bottom of the page to Dr. Wall’s Amazon page to see his other books.

The Reverend Dr. Wall is a Seattle native, an avid sportsman, and a dedicated Seattle Mariner’s fan. He is an elder of the Free Methodist Church who enjoys an active ecumenical ministry of preaching and teaching adult Bible studies in congregations of various faith traditions.

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

I had taught a regular course, Luke-Acts, as part of our Bible curriculum for years—ever since my arrival at SPU in 1978. Class prep, student interaction, marking their papers gave me a pretty good feel for the narrative plotline. It also gave me a feel for the questions that weren’t being addressed by current work on Luke’s narrative—the bit of Luke-Acts criticism that interested me the most. During the 1990’s—perhaps even before that—I began to publish journal articles to stake out some of those questions. Eventually this attracted the attention of the editors of the New Interpreter’s Bible who then invited me to write a commentary on Acts.

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

When writing a commentary for a series, the interpreter’s intentions must align with the intentions of the series. NIB is one of the world’s most widely used commentaries by the church’s clergy—that is its audience. But the editors (L. E. Keck was my editor and I worked closely with him) allowed me to add hundreds of footnotes that engaged a range of (most English-speaking) scholars over a variety of interpretive/exegetical issues. Perhaps for this reason, the commentary (along with Tom Wright’s commentary on Romans with which it’s paired in volume 10) is used in seminary classrooms and by scholars in their research.

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

I would first of all hope that it contributes to the various ordinary uses of scripture within a faithful community of practice: sermon preparation, Bible studies, personal devotions, as well as helping a community organize itself for the missio Dei in the world. But, then, its principal intellectual contribution to a scholar’s study of Acts is my application of a “canonical approach” to scripture. I read Acts as Acts, not as the second volume of Luke-Acts, and in doing so emphasize the distinctive role of its theological narrative within scripture and for the church. (Also the way Acts uses Israel’s scripture provides a normative example of the hermeneutics of Jesus set out in Luke’s recension of the Great Commission in Luke 24:44-49.) This role is discerned by tracking the earliest (pre-canonical) reception of Acts in the church (especially by Irenaeus), its placement within the emergent NT canon, its relationship with the fourfold Gospel and two Letters collections, and so on. My work over the last decade or so has attempted to shift the focus of modern biblical criticism from the point of a composition’s origins—focused by authorial intentions and the social world that shaped its message, genre, etc.—to the point of its reception as scripture or as canonical.

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

I was at Tyndale House in Cambridge on sabbatical when I wrote a first draft or the first half of Acts. Lots of people there were also working on Acts—typically using more “traditional” approaches to its narrative. More than a particular passage, what is memorable are those conversations with others about interpreting Acts. Almost daily “a-ha” experiences. During this time, too, I became increasingly convinced of the importance of reading Acts with scripture—its intertextuality really did drive my reading of several key passages, especially Acts 15. I became convinced that this narrative of the second Jerusalem Council provides a hermeneutical key for reading the two NT letter collections, Pauline and Catholic, together as mutually glossing witnesses to God’s economy of salvation.

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

Certainly the importance of a covenant-keeping community for a ministry of reconciliation. But reading/studying scripture is an act of Spirit-led worship. The student’s love for God will in fact deepen as the effect of Bible study.

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

Good question! Depends on what the endgame is. When preparing to preach Acts is a different endgame than preparing a scholarly bit on Acts to publish. For most faithful students of scripture, here are my top go-to commentaries. Frankly, I’m somewhat less concerned with a linguistic analysis of the narrative or certainly the social world in which the narrative is earthed. These goods are delivered by more technical commentaries such as [Richard I.] Pervo (Hermeneia) or [Craig] Keener’s massive, no-stone-unturned commentary on Acts (Baker). I use both. But for most students, I like [Beverely R.] Gaventa [Abingdon], [F. Scott] Spencer [IBT], [Darrell] Bock [BECNT], [C.K.] Barrett [ICC], [David] Peterson [Pillar] —scholars of the church whose exegetical and expositional work is routinely related to the formation of disciples.

Let me add this footnote to this list: many people overlook commentaries on books that are hidden within multi-volume commentaries such as the New Interpreter’s Bible. They look for and use commentaries of individual books that are published as such. In fact, all the commentaries I recommend in the above list are published individually as self-standing volumes within a commentary series. My commentary on Acts, e.g., is book-length but is included in a much bigger volume that includes Wright’s commentary on Romans and Paul Sampley’s commentary on 1 Corinthians—both of which are also book-length. People miss these commentaries because of it.

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

I’m working on a theological commentary of Hebrews. Just finished a book, co-authored with my colleague, Daniel Castelo, on the nature of the Bible, The Marks of Scripture: Rethinking the Nature of the Bible (Baker Academic).

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Interview with George Guthrie on Hebrews (NIVAC)

George Guthrie is the Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Guthrie holds a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies and is considered to be one of the premier authorities in the United States on the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament. He has authored numerous books, including commentaries on Hebrews in the REBC series, Hebrews in the ZBBC series, Hebrews in the TNTC, and 2 Corinthians in BECNT series.

On April 28, 2017, it was announced that Guthrie was appointed as Professor of New Testament at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, beginning in September 2018. Dr Guthrie has been invited as Guest Lecturer at The Bible Institute of South Africa’s Winter School in July 2018.

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

In 1984-85, when I was taking German in preparation for Ph.D. work, I was tasked with translating an article on Hebrews’ use of the Psalms behind the “Gethsemane parallel” in Heb. 5:7. I was intrigued. Following from this interest, I ended up doing a Master’s Thesis under Grant Osborne at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on the use of Ps. 110:1 in the structure of Hebrews. Grant and Walt Liefeld thought I was on to something and suggested I should pursue the topic of Hebrews’ structure as a Ph.D. dissertation topic, which I did at Southwestern Seminary. Toward the end of my Ph.D. work I contacted Bill Lane, who was finishing his Word Biblical Commentary, asking for input on my work. Bill opened his life and expertise to me and requested to be the external reader on my dissertation. He ended up including about 19 pages of my work in the introduction to his wonderful two-volume commentary, which gave me a hearing with E. J. Brill, the publisher of my dissertation in the monograph series, Novum Testamentum Supplements. Not long after, Scot McKnight, one of the NIVAp editors at the time, asked me to do the Hebrews volume and set up a meeting with Zondervan editor Jack Kuhatschek, who had envisioned the series. Jack and I hit it off, and I loved the particular vision for the commentary series.

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

The NIVAp series is envisioned for pastors and laypeople. I tried to write it with both in mind. One of my greatest joys has been hearing from pastors around the world who have benefited from the commentary as they preached through the book. However, I also have heard from many professors who have used the volume in the classroom to great effect.

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

The NIVAp series attempts a balanced approach between basic exegesis, the hermeneutical move from the ancient world to the present, and application. The editors stressed that these were to be fairly balanced, and I tried hard to follow that direction. I especially worked hard to give pastors a head start on application by including great quotes, stories, etc. in the application section. I think the commentary more reflects some of my contributions to Hebrews research, such as insights into the structure, the role of rabbinic techniques of handling the Old Testament, and particular interpretive points. I was able to bring the research I had already done for a number of years to bear on the commentary.

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

Grappling with the “apostasy” sections (e.g. 3:6,14; 6:4-8) was quite the process. What struck me was that I could find no commentary that had really summarized the arguments on 6:4-8, so I tried to do that. That passage also has been the #1 passage about which people contact me, especially those who are struggling with assurance of salvation.

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

As I came to the climax of the christology in Hebrews, particularly 9:11-10:18, the decisiveness of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins really impressed me and has continued to be a cornerstone of my own faith.

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

Wow, there are so many, I almost don’t know where to start. [William] Lane’s commentary [in the WBC series] is still very valuable. [Harold] Attridge [in the Hermeneia series] is great on backgrounds issues. Others such as Gary Cockerill [in the NICNT series], [Craig] Koester [in the Anchor series], and [Paul] Ellingworth [in the NIGNT series] have much to offer. Lincoln Hurst on the background of Hebrews is still valuable. Over the past fifteen years especially there has been an explosion of Hebrews research, with dozens of good monographs being published.

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

Currently I am finishing a commentary on Philippians for the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series, after which I will begin a volume on Hebrews in Zondervan’s New Testament Theology series. My wife and I are moving to Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada in May 2018, so we are excited about a new phase of life and ministry. People can take a look at my website, georgehguthrie.com and follow me on Facebook.

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Interview with Darrell L. Bock on Luke (BECNT)

Darrell Bock Luke

Darrell Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) has earned recognition as a Humboldt Scholar (Tübingen University in Germany), is the author of over 40 books, including well-regarded commentaries on Luke and Acts and studies of the historical Jesus, and work in cultural engagement as host of the seminary’s Table Podcasts.

He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) for 2000–2001, is a consulting editor for Christianity Today, and serves on the boards of Wheaton College and Chosen People Ministries. His articles appear in leading publications. He is often an expert for the media on NT issues. Dr. Bock has been a New York Times best-selling author in nonfiction and is elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas.

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

I had done my dissertation work on the Use of the OT in Luke-Acts for Christology when I agreed to do this commentary. I had spent years in these two volumes already. There were very few excellent commentaries on both of these books written by the same author. I have always felt Luke was not sufficiently appreciated as a gospel. So this was an opportunity to address this.

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

Anyone interested in serious study of this gospel. Although there are many technical points, I tried to write about them in such a way that anyone interested in these issues could follow the conversation about them. It was aimed primarily at those who would teach, preach or lead bible studies on this gospel.

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

It is meticulous in how Luke compares to the other synoptic gospels. This extends down to all differences of wording. This actually lengthened the commentary by about one third. It also drew upon careful work on how the OT informed the message of the gospel and the understanding fo Jesus.

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

The central section of Luke comprises Luke 9-19. It is an enigma to many, yet is loaded with key teaching from Jesus, including many parables unique to Luke. Working through this section in detail and looking at how it fits together helps to open up the gospel and its overall message.

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

Well, Luke has more balance between activity and teaching than any other gospel. You see the character and values of Jesus and his ministry clearly in this gospel. To study it up close helps to round you out as a person who seeks to walk with God.

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

There are fine commentaries by Joel Green [NICNT] and Howard Marshall on Luke [NIGTC]. They are very different. Green focuses on the narrative flow, while Marshall has many details about the Greek text. I have done a biblical theology on Luke-Acts that is a synthesis of much of what is seen in the gospel.

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

I am working on a commentary on Ephesians for the Tyndale Series for IVP which is being updated. I also am working on editing some books on Israel and her role in Scripture as a way of making sense of the Middle East. Finally I am at work on the Table podcasts the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary produces. This look at issues of God and culture cover a full range of issues about how to apply our faith to life. For those see https://voice.dts.edu.

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1 and 2 Samuel Bible Commentary: Interview with David Firth

David G. Firth is Old Testament tutor and head of research at St John’s College, Nottingham, England. He is the author of 1 & 2 Samuel (Apollos Old Testament Commentary), The Message of Esther, and The Message of Joshua, and he is the coeditor of Interpreting the Psalms, Interpreting Isaiah, and Words & the Word.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 1 and 2 Samuel?

Over several years of teaching an Old Testament survey course I developed a particular interest in the books of Samuel and began writing articles on them for academic journals which drew together both my theological interest in these books and also my growing appreciation for their literary skill. Seeing how these came together was enriching for me, so I was delighted when the opportunity arose 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?

This commentary should be of benefits to pastors, professors and students. Although it is on the Hebrew text, because the detailed notes are confined to one section, the rest of the commentary can also be of benefit to lay Christians, though they should be prepared to work hard.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 1 and 2 Samuel?

I think the unique feature of this commentary is its fusion of narratology with a theological commitment to the importance of this book. Samuel is a text which has been particularly important in narrative studies in recent years, but this had not been brought together into a reasonably full commentary before in combination with a fresh translation of the text.

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

It’s hard to point to any one section that was particularly memorable – I think my abiding memory of writing the commentary was how enriching the whole process was as it gave me a fresh appreciation for this book even though it was one that I had already come to know quite well. So, perhaps the most memorable point was completing the commentary and realising that there was still so much more to learn and say about this fascinating book.

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

A fascinating feature of Samuel is seeing how God continues to work with people who are far from satisfactory. None of Samuel, Saul or David come across as wholly positive people – each is in some way deeply flawed, and the same is true of Israel as a people. And yet, God continues to work with these people, not giving up on them because he has a purpose of bringing blessing through them. Of course, the promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 is really the seedbed for so much of the Old Testament’s messianic hope, but seeing this in the context of such fallible people is a wonderful reminder of how God’s grace does not give up on us.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 1 and 2 Samuel?

J. P. Fokkelman’s four volumes remain an immense resource in every sense of the word. Apart from these, there are a number of helpful studies. I would recommend Gillian Keys, The Wages of Sin, H. H. Klement, II Samuel 21-24. Context, Structure and Meaning in the Samuel Conclusion, and Jonathan Y. Rowe, Michal’s Moral Dilemma: A Literary, Anthropological and Ethical Interpretation. Preachers could helpfully supplement my commentary with Bill T. Arnold’s NIVAC volume.

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

I’m working on a commentary on Joshua for Broadman & Holman’s Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series which I hope to complete soon. After that, I will be working a book looking at foreigners in the Former Prophets and the Apollos volume on Psalms. The easiest way to follow what I am doing is to check my staff page at Trinity College.

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Matthew Bible Commentary: Interview with Daniel Doriani

Dr. Daniel M. Doriani (MDiv, PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary; STM, Yale Divinity School) has been the Vice President of Strategic Academic Projects and Professor of Theology at Covenant Seminary since 2013. Prior to this appointment, he was the senior pastor of Central Presbyterian church in Clayton, Missouri.

Dr. Doriani previously served in various roles at the Seminary from 1991 to 2003, including professor of New Testament, dean of faculty, and vice president of academics. While pastoring at Central, he continued teaching as adjunct professor of systematic theology. He has extensive teaching and pastoral experience as an interim, assistant, associate, and solo pastor, and has been involved in several planning and study committees at the presbytery level in both the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). He was chair of the PCA’s Theological Examining Committee from 1999 to 2000.

Among his many books are Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible (P&R, 1996); Putting the Truth to Work: The Theory and Practice of Biblical Application (P&R, 2001); The Life of a God-Made Man (Crossway, 2001); and commentaries on Matthew, James, and 1 Peter in P&R’s Reformed Expository Commentaries series. He is also a contributing blogger for The Gospel Coalition.

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

I taught a seminary course in the Gospels for many years and chose to use Matthew as the focal point of the study. I also preached through the book of Matthew at my church over a span of almost two years.

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

This commentary is primarily for pastors and campus ministers rather than a technical work. While the text appeals to Greek, the reader does not need to know Greek. Lay readers and Bible study leaders also read this commentary.

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

This falls into the category of an expository commentary, which means a commentary that has roots in preaching and serves the art of preaching. Therefore, it has various features that make it useful to preachers: An outline of the passage that could be the structure for a sermon, explicit applications, theology, and connections to the history of redemption, as well as the occasional illustration.

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

I love the gospels, so it’s all grand, but I especially enjoyed working through the narratives because I believe we underestimate the contributions that NT narratives can make to Christian theology and life/ethics.

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

Paul Kooistra was the president of Covenant Seminary when I arrived and he had several great principles. He wanted to present a “warm and winsome Calvinism,” he wanted to hire a faculty of “pastor-scholars” and he wanted students to “love Jesus more” when they graduated than when they came. That seemed exactly right and what better way to love Jesus than to study the gospels to discover his power and grace, and to know who he is than by observing his actions and hearing his words.

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

I am fond of a number of standard commentaries: by [D.A.] Carson, [Craig] Keener, [Leon] Morris and others. I also like Jonathan Pennington’s work on the gospels, including How to Read the Gospels Wisely.

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

I recently started a commentary on Romans in the same series and recently finished another commentary. I am finishing an ethic of work and starting a theology of the physical body. I also write blogs for both The Gospel Coalition and The Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals.

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