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Commentaries, Biblical.

Two major schools of interpretation, Antiochene (see Antioch, School of) and Alexandrian (see Alexandria, School of), thrived in the early cents. The Antiochenes, including notably 2 pupils of Diodorus,* Theodore* of Mopsuestia and John Chrysostom,* may be said to be the precursors of modern historicocritical method with their accent on the literal and hist. sense. But the Alexandrians, including Pantaenus,* Clement* of Alexandria, Dionysius* of Alexandria, Cyril* of Alexandria, and Origen,* set the pattern for more than 1,000 yrs. with their allegorical exegesis inherited from interpreters of Homer (Plato,* Philo* Judaeus, and the Stoics*; see also Exegesis, 3, 4; Schools, Early Christian, 1, 4). The Victorines,* esp. Hugh* of St. Victor, briefly recovered the Antiochene spirit. Much patristic exegesis, both astounding and depressing, is preserved in medieval catenae (see Catena), notably by Theophylact* and Euthymius* Zigabenus. Definite originality appears first in the work of M. Luther,* whose 1535 commentary on Gl is a classic. Luther's comments are often homiletically conditioned; J. Calvin* offers more objective comment on the original sense of a passage in his masterful expositions of almost every book of the Bible. The peculiar theol. accents for which Calvin is known are, of course, evident.

Among more significant commentaries prior to the 19th c.: M. Poole's* Synopsis Criticorum, 5th ed., 6 vols. (1709–12), a learned but uncritical collection of opinions; J. J. Wettstein,* Novum Testamenturn graecum, 2 vols. (1751–52) enjoys great prestige for its unparalleled collection of rabbinic and classical quotations; M. Henry,* An Exposition of the Old and New Testament, 5 vols. (1708–10), a popular work completed (Ro to Rv) by his nonconformist colleagues.

In contrast to the verbose “intellectual crockery” (as Spurgeon termed it) of the 17th c. Eng. commentators, J. A. Bengel's* 1742 Gnomon Novi Testamenti is a model of perspicuity and brevity.

W. M. L. De* Wette's commentaries pub. early in the 19th c. reflect the considered refinement of the Antiochene school and its purge of allegorical and subjective approaches. The writings of E. W. Hengstenberg* mark a reaction to the exegetical method of De Wette and is characterized as retrogressive by F. W. Farrar.* F. Delitzsch,* working jointly with J. Keil,* earned great respect for his series on the OT The mediating influence of F. D. E. Schleiermacher* is apparent in F. A. Tholuck's* works. Among Eng. works of this period, those of C. J. Ellicott,* J. B. Lightfoot,* and B. F. Westcott* deserve mention.

The vast number of publications in the 20th c. fall into 3 groups:

1. One-vol. commentaries. The usefulness of 1-vol. commentaries is limited, but Peake's Commentary on the Bible, ed. Matthew Black and Harold H. Rowley (1962), offers a broad survey of the critical spectrum; The New Bible Commentary, ed. Francis Davidson, 2d ed. (1954), accents Ref. viewpoints.

2. Commentary series. The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (1895– ) is authoritative, though some vols. have been superseded by fresh investigations. The Interpreter's Bible (1952–57) contains much superfluous material, but is excellent for such books as Dt, Ps, and Is. Fresh translations mark The Anchor Bible (1964– ), which is uneven in its exposition of the text but includes new philol. data, esp. on Ps. and Jb. The New International Commentary (NT 1951–, OT 1965– ) presents fundamentalist viewpoints. The Prot. theol. faculty of the U. of Strasbourg is ed. Commentaire de l'ancien testament (1963– ) and Commentaire du nouveau testament (1949– ). For the NT only, The Expositor's Greek Testament, 5 vols. (1897–1910), supersedes H. Alford,* The Greek Testament, 4 vols. (1849–60), and is a useful reference set if used with such later works as The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (1956– ) and the Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary (1957– ). Bible students not trained in Heb. and Gk. find the following useful: Westminster Commentaries (1899– ); The Moffatt New Testament Commentary, 17 vols. (1926–50); the Torch Bible Commentaries (1948– ); Harper's New Testament Commentaries (1958– ); The Layman's Bible Commentary (1959– ); Cambridge Bible Commentary: New English Bible (1963– ). Of the Ger. series, Biblischer Kommentar: Altes Testament, ed. Martin Noth et al. (1955– ), is one of the most ambitious ever undertaken and will rank in painstaking scholarship with the Göttinger Handkommentar zum Alten Testament (1892– ), which includes H. Gunkel* on Gn and the Ps. Kommentar zum Alten Testament, ed. Ernst Sellin et al. (1913–39), took a fresh start with Wilhelm Rudolph's commentary on Ru, SS, and Lm (1962). The Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament, begun 1829 by H. A. W. Meyer,* is the outstanding work in any language; recent eds. include such notable contributions as those of Rudolf Bultmann on Jn and Ernst Lohmeyer on Ph, Cl, and Phmn Theologischer Handkommentar zum Neuen Testament (new series 1957– ), Herders Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament (1953– ), and Handbuch zum Neuen Testament (1960– ), a counterpart to Handbuch zum Alten Testament, ed. O. Eissfeldt (1934– ), are worthy rivals. Bible students not trained in Heb and Gk find a wealth of pondered thought in Das Alte Testament Deutsch (1949–; tr. of some vols. are in The Old Testament Library [1961]: includes such fresh treatments as that of John Gray on 1 and 2 K) and Das Neue Testament Deutsch (1932–; in continuous revision). Among notable Fr. series is Études Bibliques, begun 1903 by Marie-Joseph Lagrange; includes Ceslaus Spicq on Heb.

3. Commentaries not in series. Many excellent commentaries do not appear in series. Notable are George Adam Smith, Jeremiah, 4th ed., rev. and enl. (1929), and The Book of the Twelve Prophets (1929; rev. ed. 1960); A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Amos, ed. Richard S. Cripps, 2d ed. (1955); Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark, 2d ed. (1966), superseding Henry Barclay Swete, The Gospel According to St. Mark, 3d ed. (1909); John Martin Creed, The Gospel According to St. Luke (1930); William F. Arndt, The Gospel According to St. Luke (1956); B. F. Westcott,* The Gospel According to St. John, appeared in the Speaker's Commentary 1880, separately 1883, and ed. with a tr. by A. Westcott, 2 vols. (1908); The Beginnings of Christianity, Part 1: The Acts of the Apostles, eds. Frederick John Foakes-Jackson and Kirsopp Lake, 5 vols. (1920–33); Joseph Armitage Robinson, St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, 2d ed. (1909); The Epistle of St. James, ed. Joseph Bickersteth Mayor, rev. 3d ed. (1913); The First Epistle of St. Peter, ed. Edward Gordon Selwyn, 2d ed. (1947); The Epistle of St. Jude and the Second Epistle of St. Peter, ed. Joseph Bickersteth Mayor (1907).

Much gen. inaccessible information is collected in Frederick Danker, Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study, 2d, rev. ed. (St. Louis, 1966); includes a select list of commentaries on each book of the Bible (pp. 239–272) and a bibliography (p. 240, n. 1). On older commentaries see Friedrich Bleek, An Introduction to the Old Testament, eds. Johannes Bleek and Adolf Kamphausen, tr. from the 2d ed. by G. H. Venables, ed. E. Venables, 2 vols. (London, 1875 to 1882); James Moffatt, An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 3d ed. (New York [1918]). For more recent literature see Robert H. Pfeiffer, The Books of the Old Testament, (New York [1957]) and Peake's Commentary on the Bible, eds. Matthew Black and Harold H. Rowley (London, 1962). FWD


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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