Review: While I consider myself a theologian, whenever I approach a commentary I first ask "How helpful will this be for sermon preparation?" I have shelves filled with massive tomes of theological data on books of the Bible. Unfortunately, though, scholarly information does not always translate into helpfulness during the daily task of preparing a sermon. Conversely, some commentaries focus so much on the application that they offer little insight to the original meaning of the text.
A cursory look at Garrett's A Commentary on Exodus initially led me to think this would be a commentary filled with technical data that was so extensive it would be too unwieldy to use as a weekly sermon aid.
After I began reading it, though, I'm glad to report my first impression was wrong. The introduction in the commentary is incredibly detailed. This is, of course, helpful for scholars, but not for my purposes as a pastor. In the introduction I received more data and understanding on the overall history and development of Egypt and her dynasties. Garrett gave readers an extended look at the dating options for the book. And while these topics are interesting, they can become exhausting.
Fortunately, the commentary itself is incredibly helpful. The data is laid out in a logical order, which allows the reader to spend time (or skip over) areas of interest. For example, Garrett opens the sections with a translation of the text, complete with extensive footnotes. I can see certain texts might cause me to spend time in those translations. Most often, though, I will skip over them and head to other areas.
I like Garrett's exegesis style. his sentences are concise, but filled with information. He packs quite a bit of data into a small space. He also rightly exegesis the meaning of the text to the original audience, but then will help New Testament believers understand how this text informs (and transforms) their walk with Christ.
Dr. Garrett also inserts appropriate excursuses throughout the commentary. I particularly enjoyed the excursus on why the ten plagues were not each a direct attack on specific, individual Egyptian gods (but were collectively an attack on all of Egypt's gods). His handling of the "hardening of Pharaoh's heart" difficulty was also very informing.
When the time comes to preach through Exodus, I am looking forward to utilizing this wonderful tool.
Rating: 5/5 (I loved it)
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