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If the past is a foreign country, the ancient world of Genesis is an alien place for many moderns. If you are planning to go there then James McKeown is an excellent guide. He carries his erudition with ease and guides us skillfully, drawing upon his familiarity with the ancient world. Like a good guide he does not impose his own ideas but, as far as any human can, he presents his material fairly and objectively. Even you are only an armchair traveller then this is a great friend to have on your bookshelf.
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on 30 November 2011
James McKeown has produced a very useful volume in the 'Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary' series. He wisely concentrates on the literary and theological features of the final form of the text, rather than discussing possible unproven sources. At times it seems a little superficial, such as in his discussion on longevity (p47-48), but it is nevertheless a very useful medium-level commentary for pastors and students. No knowledge of Hebrew is assumed. The 'commentary' comprises almost exactly half the volume; the other half looks at the 'Theological Horizons of Genesis', with sections on its main theological themes. He follows Clines in seeing the main unifying themes as 'descendants', 'blessing' and 'land', and then discusses 'The Theology of Land', 'The Doctrine of Creation', 'Creatio ex Nihilo, 'The Fall', 'The Character of God', 'The Image of God' and 'The Life of Faith'. After sections on the modern relevance of Genesis (in relation to science, mission, ecology and feminism) he concludes by looking at the book in the light of the whole canon of scripture. Recommended.
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on 10 April 2008
James McKeown has created a study of Genesis that sets the mind ticking and the heart pumping.
He dodges none of the difficulties and guides the student through the maze of solutions proffered in theological circles.
Alongside the horizon of exegesis of the text, he takes his readers along the horizon of themes and theology that are discernible in this crucial book. These are the keys that open up the richness of Genesis. Preachers, students and general readers will all find something to interest and excite.
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on 21 December 2009
This is now my second time reading Dr McKeown's commentary on Genesis. If I had to use only one word to describe this commentary that word would have to be 'comprehensive'. There is so much that James covers, so many different angles and perspectives, so many different voices and opinions have been researched. Its probably not an over-statement to say this commentary has been years in writing, certainly decades in the mind of the author. This is a comprehensive well rounded and well thought out commentary on the book of Genesis. Probably not for the novice although it has an easy reading style and is suitable for the student, indeed it was for students of theology the book was written.
Arguements for and against and everything in between is discussed but in some areas left for personal conclusion
Recommended 10 out of 10.
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on 25 January 2011
McKeown's commentary is a brilliant resource for pastors, teachers and interested lay Christians. it is neither too technical - although there is some Hebrew in the text, it is transliterated and explained - nor too light. McKeown does not proceed through the book verse by verse, but in bite-sized chunks that allow for both explanation and the highlighting of key themes and recurrent motifs. Refreshingly, he is happy not to rehash old arguments and to gloss over matters of academic interest but, arguably, little practical importance (e.g. the documentary hypothesis which, in keeping with the prevailing scholarly mood, gets short shrift).

Following this series' objectives, in the second half of the book (roughly the last 200 pages), he explores the book's 'theological horizons', discussing the unifying themes, the key teaching, the book's relevance today and Genesis' place in biblical theology. The discussions are interesting, well-referenced to other more scholarly literature, and insightful.

This series is excellent, and I eagerly await further volumes.
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