Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 34:1 (March 1991) p. 115
Jeremiah. By Elmer A. Martens. Believers Church Bible Commentary series. Scottdale: Herald, 1986, 327 pp., $17.95 paper.
This new series intends to provide guides on the Biblical text for any serious-minded student of the English Bible with authors being chosen from the Mennonite and Brethren Church tradition. Martens writes from that perspective, but aside from occasional examples the denominational perspective is not overly evident.
Martens’ commentary provides outlines, explanatory notes and two integrative sections labeled “The Text in Biblical Context” and “The Text in the Life of the Church,” which are attempts to see the larger picture after detailed discussions of the text itself. The commentary concludes with glossary notes, maps and biblio-graphic material.
The outlines are more than the usual chapter-and-verse listing as they often give insight into the arrangement of a passage by showing parallel thought patterns or other structural devices. The explanatory notes are the heart of the commentary, providing historical data, word studies, themes and literary features of Jeremiah. Relevant archeological and historical data are presented for further illumination. Most examples are presented with clear parallels to Jeremiah while some (e.g. Instruction of Amenemope, p. 121) are more obscure.
One strength is the numerous instances where literary genre or structural devices are examined. It is refreshing to see such devices as inclusio, judgment/salvation oracle, or lament continually addressed in the comments. Yet it is surprising that such little space is given to the basic elements of ancient Hebrew poetry or figures of speech.
Another strength is the frequent use of English versions. No one version is used throughout the commentary, but Martens presents different readings for comparison and, at times, engages in limited text criticism to point out the origin of variant readings. Most confusing is the chosen system of citing the Biblical text. At times quotation marks are used, at other times italics—and occasionally both. Martens compares the wording of various versions to point to a dynamic translation and attempts some modern equivalences himself. The “city gate,” however, is just not the same as our shopping malls!
“The Text in Biblical Context” and “The Text in the Life of the Church” amplify selected areas of the commentary. The former (the stronger of the two) places a key topic or theme in the larger context of the (OT/NT) Scriptures, while the latter is often an application of the text either in view of the history of the Church or of contemporary issues with several examples taken from anabaptist or Mennonite traditions. Some topics...
Click here to subscribe