Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thomas Schreiner's Galatians

So it's finally here, Schreiner's commentary on Galatians in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series (ZECNT). With a sermon on Gal 4:21-31 coming up, I immediately put this to work. Here are some of my scattered thoughts about the commentary:

1) Very stylish cover and page layout (I'm not bothered by the small margins). There are on average five footnotes per page (often more), where he interacts with specific authors on grammatical/historical points. There are a few excurses on the obvious Galatians flashpoints (justification, works of law, faith in/of Christ, Lev 18:5, law of Christ, Israel of God).

2) For the introduction, three sentences are given to authorship, six pages to the letter recipients (prefers a South Galatia readership), five pages to the situation Paul is addressing, three pages on the issue of empire in Galatians, and sixteen pages on the opponents' background and beliefs (Jewish? Pagan? Etc.). Other issues are addressed as well, but these were the most interesting to me.

3)I'm not a 'Paul guy,' but the bibliography and author index seem pretty well-rounded to me, although Campbell's The Deliverance of God is a surprising omission.

4)The frequent text boxes, shaded areas, and clear divisions help the reader track the discussion. The graphical layout and structural outline of the text do a great job at tracking the argument, which is essential for a letter like Galatians.

5) The concluding "Theology in Application" sections were often helpful, while not overly stimulating.

6) When talking about Greek, very little jargon is used (I couldn't find any "epexegetical, resumptive, protasis-apodosis, etc."), and any jargon used is explained, ex. "adversative conjunction 'but'" (p. 348).

8) The closing 'Themes in Galatians' contains great summaries Galatians.  You see, there's that emphasis on clarity this series holds to.

7) I'd compare this with the BECNT series.  While ZECNT may not be as detailed as BECNT, it matches it with clarity and a holistic approach.  And the theology/application emphasis in ZECNT isn't found in BECNT or even Pillar.

My impression: The focus on the flow of the argument (which the series obviously strives for) is commendable and Schreiner does it well. While some will surely miss in-depth, scholarly discussion on every individual word, Schreiner gives you Galatians as a whole. Pastors would do well to pick this up, and scholars would do badly to pass it by.