Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
FM 12:1 (Fall 1994) p. 96
The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, by Craig S. Keener. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. Pp. 831 plus 8 pp. of maps and charts.
In the American Christian publishing world, a world filled with adequate but probably unnecessary commentaries and Christian helps, Craig Keener, Professor of New Testament at Hood Theological Seminary, Salisbury, North Carolina, has done the remarkable. He has produced a work that was genuinely needed but not envisioned-until now. Much of the historical background of New Testament passages can be gleaned from commentaries by the academician or informed pastor or Sunday school teacher, albeit unevenly. But The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament makes cultural background material accessible in an easy-to-follow, verse-by-verse format. Keener wisely targets an educated but nonprofessional audience with this work, making it useful to those unaccustomed to the rigors of New Testament studies yet a good refresher text to those who have to wrestle with the intricacies of the Jewish and Greco-Roman backgrounds to the New Testament.
One of the stated goals of this work, and one which is admirably accomplished, is to supplement rather outdated works (such as Strack and Billerbeck) in light of recent scholarship. That Keener could do this without having to resort to “tongues and the interpretation of tongues” is little short of remarkable. As lamentable as “translation loss” is to the sensitive translator is the loss of meaning produced when a well-meaning but undertrained exegete in the twentieth century concludes that because a text is comprehensible it is therefore fully transparent and accessible. There is such a thing as “cultural loss” incurred when ancient near-Eastern texts not only have to speak across the millennia but across the vast cultural gulf still separating East from West. The present reviewer would welcome any attempt to assist the pastor and lay church member in this effort; therefore, it is a pleasant task to review a work so well thought out in the conceptual stage and so well executed on the practical level.
The difficulty in reviewing such a work as this lies in attempting to improve upon it. As a New Testament professor, I would welcome an endnote section, set in reduced type, where those of us engaged in scholarly research could cull out primary and secondary references. But such is not the stated goal of the work itself. This would only be a suggestion for subsequent revisions in light of the fact that this work is more comprehensive and less shallow than many attempts to treat the
FM 12:1 (Fall 1994) p. 97
same material in the footnotes of commentaries. The IVP Bible ...
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