This series of commentaries is rather unique because it will interact with each natural unit of scripture (as they see it), on three different levels. First, it looks at the historical context or “Original Meaning”. Second, it begins to bridge the context between the original text and our modern context, and finally it interacts with the contemporary significance of the text.
In theory, this is a reasonable way to approach the text, but in this volume I found that oftentimes the “application” had moved so far away from the original meaning that I found these section virtually useless. In the first section, for instance, Thielman’s application involves instructing that believers and churches need to be making more Christian art (writing, painting, theater, film, etc.). That was a far cry from Paul’s original purpose. (Listen to my sermon here.)
I found the “Original Meaning” sections to be very useful however and this book can function well as a help while reading the original text.
Rating: 3/5 (I liked it)
I like this simple little commentary quite a bit. In fact, it’s almost a good alternative to the endless number of study Bibles that are being cranked out every year. (This is the topic of another blog, but in short, I would prefer if people would read the biblical text, reflect on it, move towards understanding it, and then turn to “study notes” and commentaries. But when the notes are right next to the text it is virtually impossible to do this preferred process.)
The notes are simple and linked to specific verses, and the author tries to summarize the sections’ main ideas into a sentence or two. These sentences are technically imprecise at times, using a variety of conjunctions to lengthen the meaning, but they are very helpful.
I have two main frustrations with this commentary, though. The first is that it treats the individual chapters as natural units of the text, and unfortunately, using the chapters to break up the sections is very unnatural and often results in cutting into some of Paul’s ideas. The second is the inclusion of some sort of teaching or preaching outline throughout this commentary. It is not very useful because I don’t preach the way the commentary wants me to preach, and couple that with the unnatural division of the book into chapters, and there’s an unfocused presentation of the material.
Rating: 3/5 (I liked it)
I don’t have too many complaints here. Gordon Fee is amazing. He rightly highlights the work of the Holy Spirit, which is often missed by others. He divides the sections in a reasonable way, and structures his comments in a logically cohesive manner.
My only caution here is that this is a technical commentary and Fee dives into issues of language, grammar, textual criticism and sentence structure that might bog down the lay person. This is the commentary an individual may want to get if, and only if, he or she really wants to dig deep into this book.
Rating: 5/5 (I loved it)