The New Interpreter’s Bible Volume IV
A review of, "The New Interpreter's Bible Volume IV," by Dr. Richard Hess.
Leander E. Keck et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Volume IV. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996 xix + 1287 pp.
Doran, Robert. “1 Maccabees,” pp. 1-178; “2 Maccabees,” pp. 179-299.
Doran provides a competent survey of the various views about the chronological and theological problems found in these books. A chart (14-15) summarizes the chronological incidents of both books although the distinctive nature, style, and theology of each is admitted. An annotated bibliography of thirteen items is found on p. 24. While the commentary always reproduces the NIV and the NRSV translations side by side, in the case of Apocryphal books such as Maccabees, no NIV translation is available. Therefore, the NAB is substituted as a second translation. Doran interacts with the relevant contemporary Greek historical sources as well as Josephus and the Dead Sea Scroll literature. The work provides a useful guide for the complex historical events and many characters that comprise this period of the intertestamental period, a period all the more significant due to its allusions in the prophecies of Daniel.
Berlin, Adele. “Introduction to Hebrew Poetry,” pp. 301-315.
Introductions to Hebrew poetry can run the risk of being so general as to be of llittle exegetical value or so detailed as to require the memorization of lengthy lists of technical terms. Berlin’s introduction achieves an excellent balance between art and science. Although it is too short to achieve a complete review of the subject, it introduces the reader to all the basic ideas involved in the interpretation of poetry. Berlin maintains a scepticism toward all attempts to define meter and rhythm in Hebrew poetry. A useful section on reading a poem in terms of identifying its movement appears just before the bibliography at the end of the chapter.
Newsom, Carol A. “The Book of Job,” pp. 317-637.
The introduction provides a survey of ancient Near Eastern parallels and theological emphases. Newsom opts for a Persian date of the composition in its present form, with earlier sources for the prose section (the mention of Job, along with Noah and Danel, by Ezekiel) and (a different source from the prose) for the dialogues between Job and his friends. The divine monologues were then added by the final redactor of the book. Newsom recognizes the speculative nature of this assessment. For Newsom the Satan in Job is a personification of God’s doubt about the human heart, allowing the picture of God to be one of confidence in Job’s faithfulness. 14:14 does not describe death and resurrection but Job’s temporary refuge in Sheol to hide from God’s anger. Following Clines, 19:25-26a is contrasted with vv. 26b-27 so that Job does not envision a resurrection but prefers to see God before his death. The divine speeches are experiential in purpose, rather than revelatory in intent. Job’s response is open to a variety of interpretations. In line with the NIB here is a commentary that does not attempt to break new ground as much as provide useful exegetical observations and strong application to modern concerns.
McCann, Jr., J. Clinton. “The Book of Psalms: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections,” pp. 639-1280.
This section comprises the largest number of pages in volume IV. The introduction provides a helpful survey of the most important aspects of form and rhetorical criticism as well an appreciation of the Psalms in the New Testament and their contribution to theology. The annotated bibliography is useful and up-to-date. An outline is followed by the standard procedure of presenting each of the psalms in both the NIV and NRSV translations. As a whole the commentary on each of the psalms show sensitivity to theology, form, and key words. Important insights occur on nearly every page. Often these are homiletical and devotional rather than strictly exegetical. There is some interaction with other scholarship. The “Reflections” section at the end of each of the commentary sections, considers the theological significance. Here the reader will find aspects such as the Christological significance of Psalms 2, 45, and 110, often supported with the insights of patristic and later interpreters. However, this is balanced with an agnostic view of the meaning or significance of the relevant messianic texts in the exegetical section (see, e.g., the comments on Psalm 2: 11-12 as “difficult, if not impossible to understand”).
Richard S. Hess
Professor of Old Testament