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Great, original idea, well presented and very interesting
on 1 October 2009
`Commentary on the New Testament[`s] Use of the Old Testament' is a great resource `devoted... to the study of the NT text as it quotes and alludes to the OT text' (from the Introduction).
Like more conventional commentaries, this work is divided into chapters which each deal with, in order, a single NT book; and each chapter is further subdivided into sections discussing (usually) a selection of consecutive verses.
However this format is not followed by all the contributors as `the editors [Beale and Carson] have allowed adequate flexibility in presentation... [because of] the astonishing variety of ways in which the various NT authors make reference to the OT'. While all the articles seek to answer the same basic questions regarding context and interpretation, how each author achieves this varies significantly though none is necessarily `better' or `worse' than any other.
The text itself is printed in two columns per page (like a traditional Bible), which I find really helps the eye follow the text in large format books. The use of bold indented titles or chapter/verse headings with dainty little side and under-linings for each main section make for easy navigation; and one or two articles make use of very simple (but occasionally large) tables. At the end of each chapter there is an absolute monster bibliography: for instance, for Luke alone it stretches to nearly 11 solid pages of small, footnote-size fonts.
At first glance then, this book may not seem like a `usual' commentary and the concept of emphasising how the NT uses the OT is not `usual' either. However, once you get reading a passage you feel the book quickly assumes the familiar genre of a biblical commentary, though it's comments are also quickly seen to be deeper and fuller than many other commentaries.
The variety and flexibility that the editors encouraged has made for very different reading experiences: for instance, I am most familiar with D. A. Carson and I. Howard Marshall as authors (perhaps because I've got so many excellent IVP publications?!). Howard Marshall contributed the article on Acts and I found this to be easier to read than some of the others. This may be because he dispenses with several of the technical issues at the beginning of the article which allows the main text to flow more freely. Conversely, there are one or two other pieces which I found, on occasion, to be prohibitively technical and complex, especially when dealing with direct comparisons of Greek and Hebrew translations.
When I saw this title (actually advertised by the Logos Bible study people) I was stunned that such a concept had reached fruition. It's a fabulous achievement that will prove to be hugely useful in my studies. (I imagine the digital version would be most convenient, particularly for copy-and-pasting.) This book is large and comparatively demanding, I suppose, but I have a passion for the OT, and especially to right (what I perceive to be) a heavy NT bias in all things Christian. This will be a wonderfully useful tool for helping to correct that imbalance: and with over 1200 pages, it's not too expensive either.