Like most new pastors I have yet to invest in a commentary set. I have been tempted to get the New Interpreter’s set, mainly because it is reliable and affordable, but the more I use it the less it gives me that “thought” for the sermon. It’s a safe choice, but one lacking punch. After that I was tempted to just piece together commentaries by people and sources I like until I have the full Bible, but that is expensive and will take a long time (plus I could never see myself purchasing a commentary on Jude). The two other sets I considered purchasing were the old Interpretation set because I enjoy so many of the commentators and the Brazos Theological Commentary. But I found the old Interpretation set to be dated in its references and occasionally lacking any significant thought. The Brazos set is intriguing, but you never really know what you are going to get. Hauerwas’s got reviews that asked us to pick him or Matthew, Pelican’s was only kindly received, Telford Work’s actually reads like a commentary, whereas Carey’s Jonah is more like a novel (and it is really good). Radner’s Leviticus commentary is awesome, but I hard time imagining preaching on it and Jenson’s Ezekiel commentary was good, but not as good as I expected from him. Needless to say, I will keep close tabs on this series but I am not sure it is a solid main series for a preacher.
However, stepping into the ring out of nowhere is Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible by Westminster John Knox. In a previous life I was the one most often keeping people up to date on recent books, but this one I found out about from a former professor who normally is 3 years behind the curve. Needless to say, I was shocked I hadn’t heard about it sooner especially with first volume coming from famed postliberal, William Placher on the book of Mark. On the webpage they have what looks like a full list of commentators and the Luke volume by Justo L. González is coming out this month.
According to a friend of mine in the publishing business WJK doesn’t view this volume as a rival to the Brazos Series but more of an update to the Interpretation Series. The introduction to this series begins:
Belief…is a series from Westminster John Knox Press featuring biblical commentaries written by theologians. The writers of this series share Karl Barth’s concern that, insofar as their usefulness to pastors goes, most modern commentaries are “no commentary at all, but merely the first step toward a commentary.” Historical-critical approaches to Scripture rule out some readings and commend others, but such methods only begin to help theological reflection and the preaching of the Word. By themselves, they do not convey the powerful sense of God’s merciful presence that calls Christians to repentance and praise; they do not bring the church fully forward in the life of discipleship. It is to such tasks that theologians are called.
WJK was nice enough to send me a review copy of Placher’s book that I plan on blogging about as I read through it. I am excited for what this series is bringing to the commentary game and am hopeful that I will finally have a series to call my own.
If you are interested you can subscribe to Belief by 12/31/10 and receive 40% off on each volume. Call 1.800.554.4694 for details