Yesterday we kicked off the 2011 Commentary Tour by taking a look at the Zondervan’s ZECNT series. Today, we focus in a bit more closely and briefly review one individual volume in the series, Tom Schreiner’s Galatians.
Following the structure goals of the series, Schreiner’s volume on Galatians follows the series format exceptionally well, staying focused on major exegetical issues and remaining at all points concise. He introduces the issues well, explains them succinctly, and conveys his perspectives clearly. This allows the exegete to move through the text efficiently and create her/his own teaching/preaching outline while using Schreiner’s treatment as a launching point.
Schreiner, with allowance for doubt, holds the Southern Galatia view for the recipients of the Epistle, argues for the “old” perspective on Paul and composes his commentary from that perspective. Furthermore, Schreiner does a good job of laying out methodological guidelines for discerning who Paul’s opponents in the letter were, as well as the nature of their challenge to Paul and the gospel he preached.
The ‘old perspective’ approach, of course, is at odds with a significant portion of contemporary scholarship, and requires a bit more interaction with scholarship than might have been expected from a volume in this series. The ZECNT’s footnote system is quite helpful here, clearly pointing out where Schreiner is drawing from and thus pointing the reader to the available resources. This is especially important for pastors who may now be deciding whether to preach Paul from the ‘old’ or ‘new’ perspective.
Another feature of the ZECNT that Schreiner uses well is the “in-depth” excurses, presented in grey boxes intermittently throughout the commentary. These boxes unpack major historical-critical issues arising from the text that have received significant attention in modern scholarship. These treatments include:
- The Role of Empire in Galatians (p. 35)
- Eating with Gentiles (pp. 141-142)
- Justification (pp. 155-157)
- Works of the Law (pp. 157-161)
- “Faith of Jesus Christ” (pp.163-166)
- The Meaning of Leviticus 18.5 (pp. 212-214)
- “Law of Christ” (pp.359-360)
- Israel of God (pp. 381-383)…and several others
Each excurses directly engages contemporary scholarship while presenting a brief argument for Schreiner’s own position.
While consistently the most terse of all sections in the commentary, Schreiner’s “theological application” sections are also, in my view, the most tantalizing, begging for deeper engagement from Schreiner’s readers. Unfortunately, there is no “further reading” bibliography to help exegetes probe more deeply into theological matters. Treatments include:
- The Exclusivism of the Gospel (pp. 90-91)
- False Teachers (p. 132)
- Justification/ Law & Gospel (pp. 174-175; cf. 251-252)
- Sanctification (pp. 187)
- Promise Fulfillment (pp. 233-34)
- God’s Righteousness (p. 273)
As stated yesterday, I regard this series highly as an exegetical tool that will prove most helpful to pastors, Bible teachers, and I think if used responsibly, Bible students in graduate or post-graduate programs.