Book Reviews

THE NEW CENTURY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Editors: Ronald E. Clements (Old Testament) and Matthew Black (New Testament); Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Reviewed by Prof H. Hanko)

I have a number of these commentaries given for review. Before making a few remarks about them individually, there are a few points to be made about the commentaries generally. 

The set is a reprint of books published in England in the ’70s, which is being produced by Eerdmans. All the volumes are not yet published. It is my personal judgment that they offer little which is not available in already published commentaries although they do bring recent Bible studies up to date. However, this is, in a certain sense, a disadvantage because, on the whole, they are not easily read by anyone who does not have a technical training in the field of Bible study. Further, they are affected by neo-orthodoxy, although this is true of some more than others. The commentaries are written by different men. 

While they all have rather extensive introductions which are quite interesting, the body of the commentaries are very brief and offer little help in the understanding of the text. A consideration of individual books.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, by William Neil; 270 pp. (paper)

Of the 270 pages, 60 pages are introduction and 6 pages are indices. 

The neo-orthodox emphasis comes out, e.g., in the contention of the author that all the speeches recorded in Acts are the work of one editorial hand. There is no mention made of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

ROMANS, by Matthew Black; 191 pp. (paper)

While it is almost impossible to conceive of a commentary on Romans being contained in less than 200 pages, 30 of these is given over to introduction. The book is very technical and difficult to read. There is almost no exegesis given of such important passages as 1:19-32, 5:12-14, 8:29, 30, 9:9-19. Where exegesis is given, it is wrong and the author makes faith the ground of justification and denies original guilt. The author maintains that Paul assumes current rabbinical interpretation in several sections, an evidence of his neo-orthodoxy.

GALATIANS, by Donald Guthrie; 164 pp. (paper

There are about 100 pages of commentary and 54 pages of introduction. The introduction is good and the treatment of the historical sections in Galatians is also quite good. But the doctrinal parts of this important book are very scantily treated. This author too maintains that Gal. 3:15, e.g., is evidence of rabbinical influence.

COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, by Ralph P. Martin; 174 pp. (paper))

In this book even the introduction is technical and difficult to read. The doctrinal sections in Colossians are given scanty treatment and neoorthodox influence is also evident here. E.g., wives need no longer obey their husbands in our modern culture (p. 119).

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, by David Hill; 365 pp. (paper)

Perhaps more than the others, this book is evidence of the commitment to form criticism. The historicity of many of the gospel narratives is denied. “These stories are constructed around a series of testimonies, and are, despite their sobriety of tone, primarily instruments of theological statement rather than examples of historical description.” The book is difficult to read and is of little value to one who seeks in Scripture the revelation of the God of our salvation in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.

THE NEW CENTURY BIBLE COMMENTARY, THE GOSPEL OF MARK, Hugh Anderson; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981; 362 pp. $8.95 (paper). (Reviewed by Prof. Robert D. Decker) 

THE NEW CENTURY BIBLE COMMENTARY, EPHESIANS, C. Leslie Mitton; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981; 232 pp., $6.95 (paper) (Reviewed by Prof. Robert D. Decker)

The first of these commentaries, The Gospel of Mark, is a classic example of redaction criticism (a school of higher criticism). Neither author is committed to the doctrine of inspiration as held by us. According to Mitton, for example, Ephesians was not written by the Apostle Paul. Ephesians was written by some unknown follower of Paul and is a collection of Paul’s main teachings and doctrines. The author leaned heavily on other Pauline writings, especially Colossians. The exposition in the body of the commentaries is both scanty and in many places in error. This is true of the doctrine of predestination in the doxology of Ephesians 1

For the Reformed believer neither of these commentaries is of any value. Seminary students and professors who need to keep abreast of what is going on in higher criticism might find them useful from that point of view.