Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 30:2 (Jun 1987)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Exploring Gods Word: A Guide to Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. By Donald Guthrie. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985, 222 pp., $6.95.

This book is the latest in Guthrie’s long career. Students of the Bible on both sides of the Atlantic have benefited from his literary work over the years (e.g. Jesus the Messiah; commentaries on Galatians, the pastoral epistles, Hebrews) and his work as one of the editors of the New Bible Commentary.

Guthrie’s stated purpose for writing the present volume is “to provide a tool for the expositional study of the biblical text.” He goes on to say that “although the aim is exegetical, that is, to discover what the text actually says, the need to see how the text can be personally applied to daily life has been a major factor in the production of the outlines” (p. 13).

His book is chiefly directed towards laypersons—that is, those who may not have studied Biblical languages or backgrounds. The book is not designed to be a commentary. In fact its format is rather stark, including a table of contents, a brief preface and general introduction, and a short introduction for each of the three epistles.

The content of the book consists of a series of outlines that follow the sequence of the Biblical texts. Guthrie affirms that “only those outlines which arise naturally out of the text itself have been included.” Some outlines are very short, while others are perhaps a page in length. Each outline is headed by a chapter-and-verse identification and a title. Occasionally an outline will include several verses and be followed by other outlines constructed from among those same verses. For example, Eph 4:25–32 (“Things to Avoid”) is followed by 4:26–27 (“Anger”), 4:29 (“Speech”), 4:30 (“Grieving the Spirit”) and 4:31–32 (“Wrong and Right Attitudes”).

The outlines are not primarily sermonic. Although each has a text and title, there are no introductions, illustrations or conclusions. Instead each outline begins with a key statement, continues with several statements that seem obvious from the Biblical text, and concludes with another key statement.

This reviewer appreciates the writer’s emphasis on Christian praxis. Certainly the necessity for applied Christianity cannot be overstated. Also, something can be said for the desire to stick to the text. However, neither Christian action nor the writing and study of the sacred texts occurs in a vacuum. I came...

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