About This Blog

Monday, February 2, 2015

"A Commentary on Exodus" (Duane A. Garrett)

TITLE: Commentary on Exodus, A (Kregel Exegetical Library)
AUTHOR: Duane A. Garrett
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2014, (752 pages).

One of the marks of a good commentary is how effectively the gap between the ancient and the modern world is bridged. Some commentaries are so heavy on the biblical contexts that they lose the modern reader. Others can be so modernistic that they compromised by allocating less space to the historical cultures. This commentary is unique as the author seeks to do six things. First, he gives us an overview of Egyptian culture, history, language, and geography. Second, he affirms the reliability of the text without dismissing the "distorted pieces of evidence." Third, he uses a "clause-by-clause" basis of the Hebrew text where each clause is translated on a separate line. Fourth, he asserts that Exodus contains several poems. Fifth, he keeps commentary brief but provides links to resources for advanced research. Sixth, he intends this book to be useful for both theologians and ministers.

In a very impressive Introduction, Professor of Old Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary provides a compelling summary of the major viewpoints surrounding sources, the debates over the dates of Exodus, textual critical issues with various ancient texts, and an amazing geographical and historical flow of events. Even though the chronology of ancient Egypt is not agreed by all scholars, it provides a working framework for interpreting the book of Exodus.

Garrett does not support the documentary hypothesis calling it a "dead end" discussion. A common observation of this commentary points to a convicted belief in the reliability of the texts and a cautious acceptance of the archaeological evidence, especially when there seems to be a gap in the connecting of the two.  Key to understanding Garrett is the assumption that the Biblical numbers are correct, not according to our modern day interpretations per se, but according to ancient standards. Rather than to try and fix a specific king's name to each period of study, readers are advised to simply treat the Egyptian leaders as "Pharaoh" consistently according to the text. He avoids weird theories that try to harmonize the archaeology with biblical narrative. Instead, he points out the differences. He explains the significance. He then summarizes the theological themes at the end of each section which is helpful for any reader trying to understand the big commentary.

The commentary is framed in seven major divisions.
  • Part 1 - Until Moses (1:1-2:10)
  • Part 2 - An Unlikely Savior (2:11–7:7)
  • Part 3 - The Twelve Miracles of the Exodus (7:8–15:21)
  • Part 4 - The Journey to God (15:22–19:25)
  • Part 5 - The Sinai Covenant (20:1–24:11)
  • Part 6 - The Worship of God (24:12–31:18)
  • Part 7 - Sin and Restoration (32:1–40:38)
Garrett segments the commentary into a very readable framework of reference. The clause-by-clause format makes the work very easy to reference. With the numerous and detailed footnotes, one can choose to stay with the biblical text for personal reflection before venturing into the scholarly material. No stone is left unturned. Even verses are divided into subsections with their own explanations. It is a treasury of scholarship material on Exodus and a very useful resource for preachers when preparing for sermons on Exodus. The exegesis on the Hebrew is based on the author's personal translation. This is important because of the tight link between exegesis and hermeneutics. The part that really helpful is the theological themes that are constantly being highlighted. This enables readers to connect Exodus with the rest of the Bible. It is very tempting for anyone trying to study a Bible book indepth to be so engrossed in that one book to the exclusion of others. By arranging and recognizing the themes in the book, we get to connect with the larger Bible narrative.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Academic in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment