A Curator’s Guide — An Exploration into Revelation

img_9080We will complete this series with a recommended reading list for Revelation, with Rob Bowman providing a helpful introduction.

Revelation:

Introduction

“There are innumerable bad books on the Book of Revelation. The number of good commentaries and studies on the subject, though no doubt much smaller, is too large for anyone to read or even to consult them all when studying Revelation or a particular passage in it. This bibliography therefore presents a highly selective list of references of relevance to the serious study of the Book of Revelation. Even so, I have listed double the number of works here that I list for other NT books in this series of bibliographic essays. The criteria for inclusion here are as follows. (1) Priority is given to the most current and most thorough references. This does not mean I think newer is necessarily better. However, the newer works often helpfully review the arguments of earlier studies and so can be avenues to learning about the earlier references. (2) Since the Book of Revelation is arguably the most controversial book in the New Testament, with a bewildering array of interpretive approaches, the selection here emphasizes the need to become acquainted with the different ways of reading the book. In addition, a mix of differing viewpoints on Revelation is of value to anyone who wants to understand current scholarship on its interpretation. Given the diversity just among conservative, evangelical approaches, I have omitted liberal and heretical commentaries. (3) The commentaries are generally exegetical or academic in approach, not devotional or homiletical, as valuable as those approaches are in their own right. The goal here is to provide a usable list of the reference works that anyone writing an exegesis paper on a passage or theme in the Book of Revelation should normally try to consult.”

 

Beale, Gregory K. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. Masterful analysis from an idealist, amillennial perspective, especially strong in relating Revelation to the OT.

Bock, Darrell L., gen. ed. Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond. Stanley N. Gundry, series ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999. Generally well-done, cordial discussion by three NT scholars defending and responding to postmillennialism (Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.), premillennialism (Craig A. Blaising), and amillennialism (Robert B. Strimple).

Boxall, Ian, and Richard Tresley, eds. The Book of Revelation and Its Interpreters: Short Studies and an Annotated Bibliography. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. For no other book of the Bible is its reception history of importance in approaching its interpretation today than in the case of the book of Revelation. This book reviews the history of how Revelation was interpreted up through 1700.

Gregg, Steve, ed. Revelation: Four Views. A Parallel Commentary. Foreword by Robert Clouse. Rev. and updated ed. Nashville: Nelson Reference, 2013. Orig. 1997. Four separate passage-by-passage commentaries on Revelation, all written by Gregg though including excerpts from other commentaries, to represent the four major approaches to the book, placed in parallel columns for ease of comparison.

Keener, Craig S. Revelation. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000. Evangelical commentary emphasizing application to the church’s contemporary context and concerns, by a scholar intimately familiar with the Jewish and Greco-Roman literature and cultural backgrounds. One of the best commentaries occupying the middle ground between academic exegetical references and popular expositions, and therefore of special interest to pastors.

Newport, Kenneth G. C. Apocalypse and Millennium: Studies in Biblical Eisegesis. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Studies in how Revelation has been interpreted in the past three centuries, with special attention to Adventism and Koresh.

Osborne, Grant R. Revelation. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002. Historic premillennial, eclectic approach (moderately futurist). Comparable theologically to the older (and still excellent) commentary by George Eldon Ladd.

Poythress, Vern Sheridan. The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2000. Idealist, amillennial introduction (not an exhaustive exegetical commentary), arguing that Revelation is meant to be understood even (or especially) by non-scholars.

Thomas, Robert L. Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary; Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary. Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody, 1992, 1995. Dispensational premillennial (futurist); perhaps the best commentary from this perspective.

Wilson, Mark. Charts on the Book of Revelation. Kregel Charts of the Bible and Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007. Extremely useful information relevant to Revelation presented in a very accessible way, covering such topics as views on the author, date, genres, and structure of the book; thematic parallels to other NT books and to 4 Ezra; symbols, colors, numbers, and angels in Revelation; and much more.

 

Ryrie’s Bibles and Manuscripts Auctioned off

On 5 December 2016, Sotheby’s had an auction of one of the world’s largest private collections of Bibles and manuscripts. The collection was Charles Ryrie’s, former professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Seminary. For many years I would take my students to visit his home and see the treasures in his collection. Every year he would bring out new marvels that astonished me. I never saw the whole collection, but he was always generous in bringing out scores of volumes.

Ryrie died earlier this year. He was just a month shy of his 92nd birthday. I had been keeping a close eye on his collection and had discussed it with him many times over the years. Among other things, he owned three Greek New Testament manuscripts, one of only eleven vellum Luther Bibles in the world, and the finest copy of the 1611 King James Bible anywhere. He also owned several of Erasmus and Stephanus editions of the Greek New Testament, a couple of leaves of the Gutenberg Bible, and virtually every major English Bible from Wycliffe to the KJV. Altogether, nearly 200 items were auctioned.

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Benton Gospels—Codex 669

His Wycliffe Bible sold for $1.4 million, which was way over the anticipated price. The KJV sold way under its expectations—only $320,000. The Greek New Testament manuscripts were auctioned for $140,000 to $250,000. Codex 669, the Benton Gospels manuscript, was the most important (and most expensive) of these.

Sotheby’s does not let one know who the bidders are. We’re all given a paddle number and we bid with that, protecting our identities. But clearly someone was buying up a lot of these treasures, and the desire to get them no matter the cost (or so it seemed) certainly brought the price up. I bid on two small items, which quickly escalated out of my price range.

Ryrie did not own junk. His printed books were in excellent condition. The selling price reflected this. The very first published Greek New Testament, Erasmus’s Novum Testamentum (1516), sold for $24,000. The third edition (1522)—the first one to have the comma Johanneum in it—was a bargain at $5500.

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Erasmus’s Novum Instrumentum (1516)

A second edition of Tyndale’s New Testament (Ryrie owned nearly a dozen of these!) sold for $75,000. There were also several copies of the Matthew’s Bible ($22,000), Coverdale Bible ($11,000–$21,000), Great Bible ($4,000–$28,000), Geneva New Testament ($30,000), Bishops Bible ($48,000), Douay-Rheims Bible ($18,000), a rare copy of the KJV ‘Wicked Bible’ (1631; so-called because the printer left out the ‘not’ in the seventh commandment; thus, “Thou shalt commit adultery”!) for $38,000.

The Luther vellum Bible sold for $260,000. It is probably the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen. This was more than double the expected sale price.

A rare Complutensian Polyglot (only 600 were printed) came in under expectations at $70,000. This included actually the first printed Greek New Testament, though it was not published until six years after Erasmus’s work was out. The Textus Receptus—the Greek that stands behind the KJV—was essentially Erasmus’s Greek New Testament, with some wording from the CP as well as later editions of the Greek New Testament that were largely based on Erasmus.

A very rare certificate of ordination signed by Luther brought $60,000. And the third edition of Pilgrim’s Progress netted $75,000—as much as three times the expected sale price. Finally, the Gutenberg leaves each garnered only $38,000, way under what was anticipated.

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts owns a 10th–11th century Greek copy of Luke’s Gospel that was appraised at a price that is significantly lower than any of these Greek New Testament manuscripts. Now we have more recent comparisons and the value of such a manuscript can be weighed in light of these other manuscripts. I think we need to up the insurance value!

I hope that these books and manuscripts have found decent homes, and that the new owners will take the best possible care of them. And I also hope that the owners will reveal who they are and make known their remarkable volumes to others. I especially would like to see them digitally preserved and the images posted on the Internet—in particular, the Greek NT manuscripts. CSNTM would be more than happy to digitize these manuscripts. It’s a good time of year to express such hopes. This is more than my bucket list—it’s my Christmas list! Owners, please do not hide your light under a bushel, but let the world see these historical items that all of us may be enriched by Ryrie’s collection.

 

 

A Curator’s Guide — An Exploration into the General Epistles

I have already shared Bowman’s bibliographies for James and Hebrews with you all, so this post we will complete the General Epistles with the two epistles of Peter, Jude, and the three epistles of John. Enjoy!

 

General Epistles: A Very Short Bibliography

Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

1 Peter

Achtemeier, Paul J. 1 Peter: A Commentary on First Peter. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. Well-done but now somewhat dated commentary reflecting standard mainline/liberal approach to the epistle.

*Elliott, John H. 1 Peter: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries 37B. New York: Doubleday–Anchor Bible, 2000. Nearly a thousand pages long commentary by the premiere modern Petrine scholar, a Lutheran who taught for decades at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco. Even though it is older than the excellent commentaries by Forbes and Jobes, this one remains an absolute must for serious exegetical study of the epistle.

Forbes, Greg W. 1 Peter. Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Robert W. Yarbrough, series eds. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2014. Recent commentary by an Australian evangelical scholar focused on the exegesis of the Greek text.

Jobes, Karen H. 1 Peter. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005. Excellent commentary by an evangelical scholar whose work deserves to be better known.

Pierce, Chad T. Spirits and the Proclamation of Christ: 1 Peter 3:18-22 in Light of Sin and Punishment Traditions in Early Jewish and Christian Literature. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011. The most thorough recent monograph on what may be the most controversial passage in the New Testament, offering a careful review of the relevant ancient literature.

2 Peter and Jude

Note: Due to the close relationship between 2 Peter and Jude, many if not most commentaries and studies include the two epistles together.

Bauckham, Richard J. Jude, 2 Peter. Word Biblical Commentary 50. Waco: Word Books, 1983. One of the most often-cited commentaries on the epistles, and justly so; worthy of being on this list although it is now somewhat dated.

Bauckham, Richard J. Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1990. Moderately conservative study exploring the connections between the epistle of Jude and the historical Jesus.

Davids, Peter H. The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude. Pillar NT Commentaries. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006. 5.0; 5 reviews; 316K. Perhaps the most popular academic commentary on the epistles; recommended by Clint Arnold, Jerome Neyrey, Seyoon Kim, and Ralph P. Martin.

*Green, Gene. Jude & 2 Peter. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008. One of the best recent evangelical commentaries on the epistles; recommended by both Bauckham and Davids.

Neyrey, Jerome H. 2 Peter, Jude: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible 37C. New York: Doubleday, 1993. Moderately critical Roman Catholic scholar’s commentary on the epistles.

 

Epistles of John

Brown, Raymond E. The Epistles of John: Translation with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary. AB 30. New York: Doubleday, 1982. Massive commentary (over 800 pages) by the most influential Roman Catholic biblical scholar of the twentieth century (taking a moderately critical approach).

Culpepper, R. Alan, and Paul N. Anderson, eds. Communities in Dispute: Current Scholarship on the Johannine Epistles. Early Christianity and Its Literature. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2014. Collection of essays representing current mainline/liberal scholarship on the epistles.

*Jobes, Karen H. 1, 2, and 3 John. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the NT. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014. Most up-to-date evangelical commentary on the epistles.

Lieu, Judith M. I, II, and III John: A Commentary. NT Library. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008. Mainstream scholarly commentary, dissociating the epistles from the Gospel of John.

Yarbrough, Robert W. 1–3 John. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008. Noteworthy in-depth evangelical commentary.

A Curator’s Guide — An Exploration into Hebrews and James

img_9080Today’s post includes a selection of books engaging the world of Hebrews and James. The former will highlight a variety of aspects ranging from the personhood and exaltation of Christ, to stern warnings sprinkled throughout. The latter will no doubt address James’ contention that genuine faith does indeed work.

Hebrews:

Bateman, Herbert W. Charts on the Book of Hebrews. Kregel Charts of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012. Numerous helpful charts regarding the different views on the authorship of the book, historical and religious backgrounds, various interpretive issues, and the like; evangelical.

JLT: Charts on the Book of Hebrews puts massive information helpful for the reading and understanding of the book of Hebrew into useful format. There are numerous charts divided into four categories: introductory, influences, theology, and exegesis. Also particularly helpful is its presentation on different views on authorship and some interpretive issues in Hebrews.

Bateman, Herbert W., ed. Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2007. “A classical Arminian view” (Grant R. Osborne); “A classical Reformed view” (Buist M. Fanning); “A Wesleyan Arminian view” (Gareth Lee Cockerill); and “A moderate Reformed view” (Randall C. Gleason); conclusion by George H. Guthrie.

Koester, Craig R. Hebrews: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible 36. Garden City, NY: Doubleday–Anchor Books, 2001. Standard academic reference from a liberal/secular perspective.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Commentary on Hebrews. Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation. T. Desmond Alexander, Andreas J. Köstenberger, and Thomas R. Schreiner, series eds. Nashville: B&H—Holman Reference, 2015.

Following a thorough introduction, noted Southern Baptist NT scholar Schreiner gives a detailed commentary and then concludes with a rich study of the biblical and theological themes in Hebrews. First volume released in a promising new commentary series.

James:

Allison, Dale C. James: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary. ICC. New York: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2013. Allison, a liberal scholar best known for his work on Matthew, interprets James as a second-century pseudepigraphal text that was critical of Paul.

Blomberg, Craig, and Mariam J. Kamell. James. ZECNT 16. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008. Good evangelical commentary; Blomberg has written extensively on New Testament teachings about the rich and the poor, a major theme of the epistle.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Letter of James: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible 37A. New York: Doubleday, 1995. Commentary by a moderate, independently-minded Roman Catholic scholar. Argues for the unity of the epistle, its early date and authorship by the historical James, and against the claim that James and Paul conflicted over faith and works.

Moo, Douglas J. The Letter of James. Pillar NT Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000. Probably the most popular commentary on James, by a scholar even better known for his commentary on Romans; solidly evangelical.

Vlachos, Chris A. James. Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament. Murray J. Harris and Andreas J. Köstenberger, gen. eds. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2013. Excellent recent evangelical commentary providing close exegesis of the Greek text.

A Curator’s Guide — An Exploration into 1 and 2 Thessalonians and the Pastoral Epistles

img_9080In continuing the series, here are Bowman’s bibliographies on 1 and 2 Thessalonians and the Pastoral Epistles.

Thessalonians:

Fee, Gordon D. The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians. NICNT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009. Evangelical commentary that is generally strong in exegesis but weak in engaging critical scholarship on the epistles.

Green, Gene L. The Letters to the Thessalonians. Pillar NT Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002. One of the best evangelical commentaries on the epistles.

Malherbe, Abraham J. The Letters to the Thessalonians. Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries 32A. New York: Anchor Bible—Doubleday, 2000. Noteworthy commentary by a mainline scholar known for his skill in placing NT writings in the context of classic Greco-Roman literature. This commentary builds on earlier work that Malherbe had done on Thessalonians.

Shogren, Gary. 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. Recent, well-done commentary on the epistles by an evangelical scholar teaching in Costa Rica.

Thiselton, Anthony C. 1 & 2 Thessalonians: Through the Centuries. Blackwell Bible Commentaries. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. A “reception history” commentary, exploring how the epistles impacted religion and culture and in turn how such developments affected contemporary interpretation of the epistles. Note: This commentary is simply too expensive!

Weima, Jeffrey A. D. 1-2 Thessalonians. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014. Exhaustive, recent evangelical commentary.

The Pastoral Epistles:

Collins, Raymond F. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary. New Testament Library. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. Moderate Roman Catholic scholar expounding the Pastoral Epistles from within the conventional critical view that they were post-Pauline compositions.

Fiore, Benjamin, S.J. The Pastoral Epistles: First Timothy, Second Timothy, Titus. Sacra Pagina 12. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2007. Jesuit biblical scholar gives a contemporary Roman Catholic scholarly and pastoral perspective on the Pastoral Epistles.

Knight, George W. The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text. NIGTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992. Still one of the very best evangelical commentaries on the epistles, by a Reformed scholar. Defends Pauline authorship while arguing that Luke may have been Paul’s amanuensis.

Köstenberger, Andreas J., and Terry L. Wilder, eds. Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010. Evangelical scholarly essays engaging current issues in the criticism and interpretation of the Pastoral Epistles.

Marshall, I. Howard, with Philip H. Towner. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles. ICC. London: T&T Clark International, 2006. Excellent commentary by the moderately evangelical, eminent British NT scholar Marshall, in collaboration with one of the top scholars on the Pastoral Epistles.

Mounce, William D. Pastoral Epistles. WBC 46. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000. One of the best commentaries on the epistles, by a conservative evangelical NT scholar (best known for his work in teaching Greek).

Ngewa, Samuel. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Africa Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan/HippoBooks, 2009. Offers a helpful non-Western perspective on the church issues addressed in the Pastoral Epistles.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Interpreting the Pastoral Epistles. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011. Not a commentary, but a kind of handbook on interpretation using the Pastoral Epistles as examples; covers the genre of the letters, textual criticism, translation, historical and critical issues, grammatical and lexical study, analyzing the argument, and interpreting the epistles’ theology.

Towner, Philip H. The Letters to Timothy and Titus. NICNT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006. Towner, an evangelical scholar and leading expert on the Pastoral Epistles, defends Paul’s authorship and exegetes the epistles in detailed engagement with modern scholarship in what may be the longest commentary on the Pastoral Epistles in print.