Pentateuch Two major commentaries represent conservative scholarship on the Pentateuch: Harold Stigers’s Genesis (Zondervan) and Peter C. Craigie’s Deuteronomy (Eerdmans). (The latter is one of two volumes that launched the long-awaited New International Commentary on the Old Testament; E. J. Young’s three volumes on Isaiah are now marketed outside the series.) While both come down on the side of “essentially Mosaic” authorship for the books in question, they differ considerably in tone. At first glance Stigers appears to be a hardened traditionalist, but a review of certain key questions (e.g., the age of the earth, the date of the Exodus) shows unexpected variations from that norm. On the other hand, Craigie’s approach to Deuteronomy could hardly be faulted by any but the most unreconstructed traditionalist. The differences lie in style. Both volumes exhibit a wealth of scholarly detail, but Craigie is irenic, cautious, and appreciative of his critics, whereas Stigers is polemical and often negative.

Deuteronomy will be a standard reference for years to come. Building on the “covenant” concepts of Mendenhall, Kitchen, and especially Kline, Craigie has clearly articulated a theology of the book, supplementing his study with concise and well-documented technical notes. His unique role as a Ugaritic specialist gives added depth to the work. The scholarship of Stigers reflected in Genesis is equally detailed (much of the detail should be put in footnotes in a second edition), though occasionally a bit more speculative. The heart of his work is the commentary itself, and it is more authoritative than the excessive listing of secondary sources in the footnotes would indicate. An important sidelight is to be found in Craigie’s discussion of what he calls the “theological-historical” or “theological-scientific” approach to writing a commentary. Along with Child’s recent call for a new theological exegesis, Craigie’s rejection of a purely scientific method (see his critique of the Anchor Bible in the Journal For the Study of the Old Testament, I [1976], 30–36) opens new frontiers in a discussion that is very vital.

Two volumes usefully apply a form of stylistic and structural analysis to texts in the Pentateuch. The method, as explained in the introduction to J. P. Fokkelman’s Narrative Art in Genesis (Royal van Gorcum [Assen, Netherlands]), is to set aside the “diachronic” questions of how a text developed into its final form in favor of “synchronic” research: the style and structure of the present text and its influence on its readers, then and now. For Fokkelman, the “genetic” approach too often aimed at an unattainable ideal because the precise history of a text is unknowable. In addition, the truly basic questions have to do with the literary value of the text, and for this the final form must be studied. G. W. Coats in From Canaan to Egypt (Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph) applies a similar technique to the Joseph story (Gen. 37–46), also with very satisfying results. His stress on the unity of the account as a basis for its theological analysis breaks ground and might serve as a model for studies of other Old Testament narratives.

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Looking at how those who preceded us have understood the Bible has recently gained popularity. We have rediscovered not only Calvin and Luther but also Chrysostom, Origen, and even the rabbis. Students of the latter will appreciate the paperback reissue of an old classic, The Mekilta de-Rabbi Ishmael (three volumes, Jewish Publication Society), a Midrashic exposition of Exodus 12 to 23 with an English translation and notes. More a philosophical reflection on the role of traditional Jewish exegesis in modern (Jewish) society is Eugene Mihaly’s dialogue with the Midrashic “Genesis Rabbah,” A Song to Creation (Ktav).

Books by preachers, whether sermons or homiletical commentaries, usually have a short life. New Directions From the Ten Commandments by Arthur F. Sueltz (Harper & Row) may not rank with the classics but does a fair job at making the voice of an old authority heard in the world of Watergate and materialism. Likewise, Hershel Hobbs’s The Origin of All Things (Word) reflects the author’s well-known homiletical abilities in a study of theological themes and characters in Genesis. The Genesis Record by Henry Morris (Baker) is of a different order. The subtitle, “a scientific and devotional commentary on the Book of Beginnings,” explains why a well-known apologist for “special creation” would publish a commentary on Genesis.

Finally, two more Cambridge Bible Commentaries on the New English Bible are Leviticus by J. R. Porter and Numbers by John Sturdy. Leviticus is seen as a manual for priests but with much vital background for New Testament atonement teaching, while Numbers is presented in the context of a Genesis-Numbers theological block. Ronald Youngblood’s Faith of Our Fathers (Regal) puts Genesis 12–50 into understandable perspective.

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HISTORICAL BOOKS A number of monographs dealing with important historical questions or specific sections of the historical books came out last year. Taken in the biblical order, they begin with The Tribes of Israel (Royal van Gorcum) by C. H. J. deGeus. Since the death of Martin Noth, criticism of his twelve-tribe amphictyony hypothesis has begun to swell, and with this Dutch dissertation it reaches a flood. Both the evidences marshalled and the conclusions drawn are too many to retrace here, but the basic question is when and how Israel came to be a unified nation in the land. DeGeus, while rejecting the nomad-to-city-dweller evolution, finds a possible core for the later groups in patriarchal traditions from the families of the central highlands.

A second dissertation works with First Samuel 4–6 and Second Samuel 6. The Ark Narrative by Antony F. Campbell (Scholars), though labeled a form-critical study, is heavily indebted to the kind of structuralism espoused by Campbell’s mentor, R. P. Kneirim. The most important aspects of the study focus on structure, genre, setting, and intention of each unit, with a following chapter affirming the theology of the “narrative.” The death of Eli and loss of the ark are seen as a fundamental rejection by Yahweh of the old order; the installation of the ark in Jerusalem is the blessing by Yahweh of the new order under David.

A very substantial offering from the Swedish scholar Tryggve N. D. Mettinger carries the study of kingship much further. In King and Messiah: The Civil and Sacral Legitimation of the Israelite Kings (C, W. K. Gleerup [Lund, Sweden]), the method is source- and form-critical with attention to structural considerations. Despite doubts as to the reliability of sources, particularly for David’s reign, Mettinger concludes that civil legitimation is more significant in the cases of Saul and David. By contrast, during Solomon’s time such sacral categories as “divine sonship” and a new theological understanding of such words as mashiah (messiah) arose.

No major commentaries have appeared in this area for 1976, but in the Cambridge Bible commentary R. J. Coggins ably expounds Ezra and Nehemiah and I, II Chronicles. The three books are seen as a theological overview of Israel’s history, stressing the themes of God’s continuity and the role of the temple in Jerusalem. A third volume in the series, II Kings by J. Robinson, offers clear comment on the “Deuteronomic” ideas of Kings. Finally, there is Courage and Submission (Regal) by Stanley Collins, a study guide on Ruth and Esther for the Bible Commentary for Laymen.

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PROPHETS Research and writing on the prophets continues unabated, though with little relevance to what is studied in most “prophecy conferences.” Among the excellent major commentaries that appeared, evangelicals will look first to Leslie C. Allen’s Joel, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah (Eerdmans), the other volume to launch the New International Commentary. The book is built around a full treatment of Micah, with emphasis on motifs, forms, and linguistic data. Allen, who teaches at London Bible College, has set a high standard for the series. Also a credit to its series, the Old Testament Library, is Micah (Westminster) by James L. Mays. The lucid form-critical work of the Richmond professor is already known from his commentaries on Amos and Hosea, and this additional work is similar in form and content.

Three other books on shorter prophets deserve mention. The Triumph of Faith in Habakkuk by Donald E. Gowan (John Knox) is a well-written theological study of Habakkuk as a theodicy (justification of God’s ways), while Charles Feinberg’s The Minor Prophets (Moody) makes an earlier series of studies widely available for the first time. The latter’s theological perspective is also found in The Prophet Joel and the Day of the Lord (Moody) by Walter K. Price.

Commentaries on the longer prophets include R. N. Whybray’s Isaiah 40–66 (Attic), in which “Deutero-Isaiah” is seen as a master of literary devices whose book has religious and theological unity, though compiled later. The always fertile mind of William L. Holladay stands behind The Architecture of Jeremiah 1–20 (Bucknell University), a book having to do with how blocks of material were built into the total structure. It may not sound exciting, but anyone who has read this author knows better.

Brief books abound. Ralph Alexander has written a lucid exposition of Ezekiel (Moody). Missions leader David Howard brings the life and struggles of the man Jeremiah down to where we live in Words of Fire; River of Tears (Tyndale). Henri Blocher of France has given us a splendid study of The Songs of the Servant (InterVarsity); though fully aware of contemporary scholarship, Blocher argues that Jesus’ own self-identification with the Isaianic servant forever sets the context of the songs for Christians. In Daniel (Cambridge Bible Commentary) Raymond Hammer follows standard critical lines.

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Two scholarly monographs contribute to our understanding of neglected prophetic forms. James L. Crenshaw’s dissertation Hymnic Affirmation of Divine Justice (Scholars) rescues three short “doxologies” in Amos, finding them a vital part of the theological message of the book. In an equally welcome study, The Transformation of the War Oracle in Old Testament Prophecy (Scholars), Duane L. Christensen traces several stages of function in the “oracles against the nations” of Isaiah 13–23; Jeremiah 46–51, and Ezekiel 25–32.

POETRY AND WISDOM Studies in Ancient Israelite Wisdom (Ktav) edited by James L. Crenshaw brings together twenty-seven articles (three in English for the first time) dating from 1933 to the present. The editor’s Prolegomenon is a masterly though cautious (some would say skeptical) analysis of wisdom studies since 1900. It is a good introduction to the essays and sets out some starting places for subsequent research.

Apart from this, poetry and wisdom studies have produced several fine expositions of Job, Psalms, and Ecclesiastes, all of which are suited to a wide audience. Francis I. Andersen has put us in his debt with a small Tyndale Commentary on Job (InterVarsity), combining easily understood technical notes and a heartfelt sharing of Job’s trauma. Don’t be deceived by the slender size; this commentary has far more information than most twice its size. Similarly stressing the mystery and transcendence of God is Ward B. Ewing’s Job: A Vision of God (Seabury). An “essay on the meaning of Job” rather than a commentary, this volume, the fruit of years in the parish combined with a sabbatical in the seminary, is a model of expository and devotional literature. In a small book of poetry, Journey With Job (Eerdmans), Thomas J. Carlisle has captured in modern style many of the age-old emotions expressed by the classic sufferer.

Kingship and the Psalms by John H. Eaton (SCM) greatly expands the number of psalms with “royal elements,” particularly among the so-called individual laments. From this base, Eaton has developed the implications for a fresh understanding of royal rites and the royal office. Among more popular volumes, Kenneth Slack’s New Light on Old Psalms (SCM) stands out. Not convinced that all psalms can be “Christianized,” Slack has chosen twenty as a basis for reflections on the nature of God and his care for his people. Equally helpful, though reflecting the different personalities and preaching styles of their authors, are More Psalms For All Seasons (Eerdmans) by David A. Hubbard and Enjoying the Psalms, Volume I (Walterick) by William MacDonald. More analytical is Understanding the Psalms (Judson) by John H. Hayes, a popular presentation of the form-critical approach that catalogues psalms by type.

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Ecclesiastes is richly served by Derek Kidner’s A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance (InterVarsity). Veteran commentator Kidner now turns to exposition with the happy result that this much misunderstood book comes to life as a paradox of good and bad news for the contemporary thinker.

A Song For Lovers by high school evangelist S. Craig Glickman (InterVarsity) presents the Song of Solomon as a lovers’ dialogue reflecting the ideal of courtship and marriage in a world where sex is intended to be pure and romantic love beautiful.

APOCRYPHA With the possible exception of Ecclesiasticus, no book of the Aprocrypha is of as much interest to Christians as I Maccabees. Jonathan A. Goldstein, in one of the most extensive of the Anchor Bible commentaries (Doubleday), has provided us with not only the first major modern English commentary on the book but also an extended scholarly introduction to both Maccabean treatises, in which Second Maccabees is seen as a refutation of the dynastic claims of Alexander Jannaeus (103–76 B.C.), support for which had provided the impetus for First Maccabees. Despite the obvious fact that the series has grown well beyond its original simpler format, the informed layman will find in this volume much that is helpful.

CRITICISM Books that will be useful include One Hundred Years of Old Testament Interpretation (Westminster) by Ronald E. Clements and The Old Testament and the Historian (Fortress) by J. Maxwell Miller. The former is an appreciative résumé of the main lines of interpretation from Wellhausen to the present, giving more attention to description than to evaluation. Miller attempts to demonstrate the use of the tools of scientific historical endeavor, though whether the “secular” historian of antiquity submits his sources to such a barrage of varied criticisms is questionable. A paragraph on historical-critical method and the supernatural is revealing (“this methodology presupposes … that all historical phenomena are subject to ‘analogous’ explanation—i.e., explanation in terms of other similar phenomena”). The conflict between such a presupposition and the biblical claims for overt and unique divine activity is rightly seen as “at the heart of much of the present-day theological discussion.” To one who has an evangelical understanding of history, Miller’s own position seems to have bypassed that vital point.

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Other works, some of which are substantial enough, will be of only limited interest. J. Alberto Soggin’s Introduction to the Old Testament (Westminster) retains much of the slightly pedantic style of the original lectures that form the basis of the book. The Waldensian professor is interested in theology and writes with a concern for the believing Christian, but otherwise this English version of an Italian original is a fairly traditional form-critical introduction. God and History in the Old Testament (Harper & Row) by Denis Baly (assisted by twenty-eight students) is built around the theme of “God” as encountered in the Old Testament. As a joint work it displays more breadth than profundity and is more useful as an illustration of what undergraduates can produce than as a treatise on any particular subject.

ARCHAEOLOGY The chief work is the first half of Avi-Yonah’s encyclopedia (see page 12). Of particular interest to any scholarly work on the Old Testament is volume two of Ras Shamra Parallels: The Texts From Ugarit and the Hebrew Bible (Biblical Institute [Piazza della Pilotta 35,00187 Rome, Italy]) edited by Loren R. Fisher. Chapters deal with professions, institutions, political and foreign affairs, literary genres, wisdom genres, place names, and the like. The material on literature and wisdom breaks new ground, and the list of contributors ensures high-quality work. From the same publisher comes A. Marzal’s Gleanings From the Wisdom of Mari, a collection and analysis of various proverbial sayings in the eighteenth century B.C. Akkadian texts of Mari. An illustrated spectacular comes from the creative skill of Yigael Yadin, Hazor: The Rediscovery of a Great Citadel of the Bible (Random). Technical material on Hazor, certainly one of the most important of biblical cities, has been made available elsewhere; this “coffeetable” volume will delight as well as inform the armchair archaeologist. Of equal merit but in a very different format is Nancy L. Lapp’s edition of her late husband’s articles under the title The Tale of the Tell (Pickwick [5001 Baum Blvd., Pittsburgh, Pa. 17213]). Combining chapters designed for a new archaeological handbook with reports from Paul Lapp’s various digs since 1960 (‘Araq el Emir, Ta’anach, Bab edh-Dhra’, among others), the book stands as a tribute to the memory of one of the brightest stars in the current generation of American archaeologists.

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TEXT AND CANON Frank Cross and Shemaryahu Talmon teamed to edit an important collection of technical essays on Old Testament textual criticism since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. All but three of the essays in Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text (Harvard) are photomechanically reproduced from previously published journal articles, but it is useful to have them in this convenient form.

New light is shed on the process of canonization in Sid Z. Leiman’s The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture (Shoestring). Drawing on Talmudic and Midrashic sources, Leiman sets a mid-second-century B.C. date for the closing of the canon, questioning along the way whether the often cited “Council of Jamnia” (ca. A.D. 90) did anything more than discuss the validity of earlier decisions. In light of these conclusions, which have been argued on other grounds by evangelicals for years, it is to be hoped that the “Jamnia Myth” will finally be laid to rest in new editions of undergraduate texts.

Hebraic studies will be made easier with the new tools available this year. On the lines of an earlier index to Arndt and Gingrich, Bruce Einspahr, with the aid of seven other students at Dallas Seminary, has produced an Index to Brown, Driver and Briggs’ Hebrew and English Lexicon (Moody). Set out by chapter and verse, this volume will become the constant companion of the theological student and, one hopes, will aid the weary pastor who struggles to keep his Hebrew Bible from collecting dust.

MISCELLANY Donald E. Gowan combines exegetical work on texts of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel with philosophical-theological reflections on humanism and hubris (pride) to produce a searching study, When Man Becomes God (Pickwick). Opting for a balance between the radical humanism of Eric Fromm and much Christian rejection of humanism, Gowan adopts a “theistic humanism,” affirming man’s god-given possibilities while warning against the tendency to self-elevation.

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Eleven lectures given in response to Bultmann’s rejection of Old Testament “secularity” are contained in Walther Zimmerli’s The Old Testament and the World (John Knox). The creation mandate, the role of history, the value of land and life, and the future hope of judgment are all seen as world-affirming theological supports for the New Testament proclamation of Jesus Christ, who himself came into the world. To neglect these facts is to follow Marcion and proclaim another gospel.

Geoffrey H. Parke-Taylor in Yahweh: The Divine Name in the Bible (Wilfred Laurier University) surveys the literature on the origins and meaning of the tetragrammaton (the four letters behind Yahweh or Jehovah), concluding that the name did, after all, originate with the Kenites (an old hypothesis) but that the meaning gave way “to an incomparably richer understanding in the light of the revelation to Moses.”

Three books focus on early chapters of Genesis with their wider implications. Evolution or Creation (Zondervan) by Arthur C. Custance picks up on the creative themes of the earlier volumes in his Doorway series. Unformed and Unfilled (Baker or Presbyterian and Reformed) by Weston Fields is a detailed refutation of the “gap” and “day-age” theories of Genesis. Lectures in 1967 by the late E. J. Young on Genesis 1–3 are now available in book form as In the Beginning (Banner of Truth).

Finally, collectors of translations should acquire The Concise Jewish Bible (Hebrew Publishing), an abridgment and modern-language rendition of the Hebrew Scriptures by Philip Birnbaum, a Jewish scholar.

Paul D. Steeves is assistant professor of history and director of Russian studies at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. He has the Ph.D. from the University of Kansas and specializes in modern Russian history.

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