Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Exodus Commentaries

There are many more commentaries available on Exodus than there used to be. For some reason, when I was in seminary Exodus seemed to be much under-commented on. But a proliferation of new commentaries does not necessarily improve the situation much.

While I generally recommend Calvin, I have a hard time recommending his volumes that cover Exodus through Deuteronomy. I can understand why he took the harmony approach, but it has two serious difficulties. First, it is almost impossible to find a particular passage. The so-called Index of Scripture Passage in the Calvin Translation Society edition is virtually worthless. Second, the harmony approach loses the sense of each book as a distinct entity with a unique development of argument.

All that being said, here are my recommendations for Exodus. For the Pentateuch as a whole, I recommend John Sailhamer's The Pentateuch as Narrative. His view of the opening chapters of Genesis is loopy, but he does give you a sense of how the material progresses and ties together.

On Exodus in particular, I will divide the commentaries into three sorts: 1) academic technical, 2) study guide/lay commentary, 3) in between.

For academic/technical, I recommend Wm. Propp in the Anchor Bible series. It is new, and will give much help in matters of text (textual variants, vocabulary, grammar and syntax). Second, I recommend Brevard Childs in the Old Testament Library series (Westminster/John Knox). His work has a fairly good sense of the theology of the book, and it deals as well with the history of interpretation.

For in-between commentaries, I recommend John Currid (2 vols) in the series from Evangelical Press. I can't think of anyone better equipped to comment on Exodus, due to his work in Egyptology. I also recommend Douglas Stuart in the New American Commentary series. I listed this one here rather than in academic/technical simply because it is more accessible than most academic commentaries usually are.

Finally, in the study guide/lay commentary, I recommend Cole in the Tyndale OT Commentary series, John Mackay in the Mentor series from Christian Focus, and Bentley in the Welwyn series from Evangelical Press. These will all give good guidance in understanding the book, though they will not answer questions of a more technical sort that may arise.


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Mr. Baggins said...

Dr. Shaw, what do you think of Houtman's commentary? Have you used it much?