Craig Keener on 1 Peter

The new commentary on 1 Peter by Craig Keener, professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, and one of my favorite commentators and writers, was recently published by Baker Academic. At 656 pages, it is one of the most massive commentaries on 1 Peter that I have ever seen (and I have seen a lot of commentaries on 1 Peter). 1 Peter by John Elliott in the Anchor Bible series (2000) is 956 pages, but not as evangelical a work as Keener’s. The two-volume work on 1 Peter by John Brown (1807-1858) in the Geneva series is the largest. Keener is always worth consulting and reading, even if one does not accept all of his conclusions. This volume will certainly become the standard work on 1 Peter like Keener’s four-volume work on Acts has become.

Westcott’s Commentaries

I previously mentioned a biography I had of Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901) and his work on the Revised Version. Although he is known primarily for his Greek New Testament that he edited with Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892), Westcott, contrary to Hort, was quite the writer. I want to focus here on just his commentaries, of which there are four: Gospel of John, Ephesians, Hebrews, and the Epistles of John.

The Gospel According to St. John: The Authorized Version with Introduction and Notes (1880) originally appeared in The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D. 1611): With an Explanatory & Critical Commentary & a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops & Other Clergy of the Anglican Church (known as the Speaker’s Commentary), edited by F. C. Cook (1804-1889). It was published separately in 1882 by John Murray. Regarding the few changes that were made, Westcott says: “I have corrected a few misprints, defined more exactly a few references, and changed two or three words and phrases which seemed liable to misapprehension. I have not however felt at liberty to make any other alterations or additions.” I own a copy of the “eighteenth impression” of 1937. Not sure if it was issued with a dust jacket. After Westcott’s death, The Gospel According to St. John: The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes (John Murray, 1908) was published in two volumes. It is based on the Westcott and Hort Greek text and the Revised Version. The prefatory note after the title page by Westcott’s son Arthur explains the differences between this and the 1882 volume on John.

Westcott’s commentary on Ephesians was also published posthumously: Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda (Macmillan and Co., 1906) was edited by and issued with a preface by J. M. S[Schulhof]. I own the Klock and Klock reprint of 1978 with with a foreword by Cyril J. Barber.

The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays was published by Macmillian in 1889. A second edition, which, according to Westcott, “is essentially a reprint of the former one,” was issued in 1892. I own the Eerdmans 1973 reprint.

The Epistles of St John: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays was published by Macmillian in 1883. A second edition, with some revision of the notes, but no changes in interpretation, was issued in 1885. A third edition, with some corrections, was issued in 1892. I own the Eerdmans 1957 reprint.

These commentaries, even without the Greek, are not light reading. The original commentary on John, since it is based on the Authorized Version and contains little Greek, is worth having. The others are only good as supplements to more modern commentaries, and then only when doing some serious, in-depth study. All of Westcott’s commentaries should be readily available online and from used book dealers.

The Newest Revelation Commentary

The newest commentary on Revelation, and one that is actually worth having, is the volume on Revelation by Buist Fanning, senior professor emeritus of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series. I reviewed the book earlier this year for the Journal of Dispensational Theology (Spring 2021, pp. 101-106). I need to point out two typos in the review. The first, which is my fault (although the copy editor should have seen it), is “off-outting” for “off-putting” on the last page. The second, which was introduced by the copy editor, is “recommend” for “recommended,” also on the last page. The biblical books in this series that have not been released yet are 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude. I previously reviewed for the same journal (Winter, 2015, pp. 300-303) the volume on 1 and 2 Thessalonians by Gary Shogren. Although I said in my review that the book was “important to anyone focusing in some way on 1 & 2 Thessalonians,” the book does fall short because the author is not a premillennialist. I have not looked at any of the volumes in the companion series on the Old Testament.

Galatians Commentaries

Regarding my 200+ commentaries on Galatians, I have a few times been asked which ones are the best. This is a tough question. I suppose that if someone put a gun to my head and said that I could keep five of my commentaries on Galatians but had to throw the rest of them away, then these (not in any order) are the five that I would keep. I would definitely include the newest Galatians commentary that I own, Galatians: A Commentary (Baker Academic, 2019), by Craig S. Keener, one of my favorite commentators and authors. Keener references my work on Galatians in a brief footnote on page 66, which also means that I made the bibliography and index. I would also keep the following by two of my favorite commentators: Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Eerdmans, 1998), by Ben Witherington III; and Galatians in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series (Baker Academic, 2013), by Douglas J. Moo. The fourth one would have to be Galatians in the Word Biblical Commentary series (Word Books, 1990), by Richard N. Longenecker. This incomplete series is now published by Zondervan, which is working on completing the series. Last, but certainly not least, is The Epistle to the Galatians in the  New International Commentary on the New Testament series (Eerdmans, 1988), by Ronald Y. K. Fung. This is the replacement volume for the original NICNT volume on Galatians in 1953 by Herman N. Ridderbos that was translated from the Dutch. Fung’s work has itself been replaced by that of David A. deSilva, The Letter to the Galatians (Eerdmans, 2018). This is a much larger and more up-to-date volume, but I have not had a chance to look through it yet. It may turn out that it belongs in my top five list.

My Galatians Commentary

I mentioned in the previous post my commentary on Galatians chapters 1 and 2 and that I owned over 200 commentaries on Galatians. I also mentioned J. B. Lightfoot (1828-1889), the former Bishop of Durham. Why 200+ commentaries? My writing philosophy is that of Lightfoot: “Before you write a book on something you must first read everything on the subject.” This I did, and not just commentaries, but scores of articles and books about Galatians that were not commentaries. Galatians 1 & 2: Exposition, Commentary, Application was written during the years 2000-2001, but not published until 2010. After a preface and introduction, Galatians chapter 1 is covered on pages 1-57 and Galatians chapter 2 on pages 58-134. The bibliography appears on pages 135-154. The book contains no fluff, and no regurgitation from other commentaries, or else it would have been much longer—and perhaps sold better. This book has never been a good seller. You ought to write a commentary, I was told in the 1990s. So I did, and then few were interested in it. The main drawback, of course, is that the commentary only covers Galatians chapters 1 and 2. The book does contain a lot of meat on Galatians chapters 1 and 2, and I explain in the introduction how that it is not all that unusual to just write something on the first two chapters of Galatians, but evidently that is not enough to overcome the fact that the commentary only covers the first two chapters. Galatians 1 & 2: Exposition, Commentary, Application has been marked down to $5.95 for a good many years. I have always sent my books out for free to retail customers. But because postage has gone up so much, it will cost me half of the book’s price just to mail you one copy. I would prefer that you just order something else and I will include the Galatians book in your order for free. Just mention this post.

N. T. Wright on Galatians

William B. Eerdmans Publishing recently announced the release of N. T. Wright’s commentary on Galatians, the inaugural volume in the Commentary for Christian Formation series. Although this is of great interest to me because I have written a commentary on Galatians chapters 1 and 2 and own over 200 commentaries on Galatians, the book will probably not be of much interest to most preachers. Wright is the former bishop of Durham, a post once held by J.B. Lightfoot and Brooke Foss Westcott. He is an extremely prolific writer, but has not written much of any value to most readers of The Preacher’s Library. I have met Wright at least twice over the years. He is a dynamic speaker and one of the greatest Anglican scholars in history. However, he has a very muddled theology. A theologically conservative reviewer I respect reviewed (Journal of Dispensational Theology, Winter 2016, pp. 338-341) Wright’s book Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (Harper Collins, 2008) and concluded that “by the close of Surprised by Hope, N. T, Wright has redefined heaven, hell, the gospel, future judgment, and the entire mission of the church.”