Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
FM 24:3 (Summer 2007) p. 66
Proverbs, by Tremper Longman III. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006. Pp. 608.
Tremper Longman’s commentary on the Proverbs is the second volume published in this Baker series (Richard Hess’s Song of Songs appeared in 2005; John Goldingay’s Psalms I more recently), for which Longman also serves as editor. His earlier works on Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs (NICOT, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998/2001) attest to his skill in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.
This series aims its observations toward pastors and seminarians, but this commentary provides a quick check of an interpretation for the professor and a readable guide for the layman as well. The focus of the series is the message of the book itself, with less attention given to introductory and critical matters. That being said, however, the introduction to this volume does cover over sixty pages. To its expected observations-author, date, place in the canon, wisdom’s style, structure of the book—Longman adds discussions of ANE wisdom (43-56), of reading the book in the light of the other OT wisdom books and the NT (61-69), and of the theology of the book (72-87). These sections provide a good overview with usually enough bibliography to begin to engage the discussion. One might have wanted more direction regarding works on the theology of Proverbs, especially on Israel’s concept of the afterlife, and regarding special hermeneutical issues related to wisdom generally.
In the commentary proper, Longman provides his own translation. It is purposefully literal and is supplemented with abundant textual notes. An “Interpretation” section takes up the meaning of the verse, usually setting it within the larger context of similar proverbs and citing parallels with other ANE literature where appropriate (e.g., proverbs in 22:17-24:22 often show similarities with Egyptian wisdom). When discussing the paragraph proverbs of chapters 1-9, Longman also adds a section of “Theological Implications,” summarizing the section’s teaching and presenting its overall theology.
There is a temptation when working with Proverbs to allow comments to trail off as the volume progresses by citing previous discussions. Longman’s treatment of later verses tends to be shorter, but the reader will not feel cheated; each discussion is full enough to get the sense of the verse and something of the larger topic in Proverbs. One is not often forced to hop about.
Longman rounds out the work with an appendix that summarizes alphabetically the topics ...
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