Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Commentary Recommendation

At the moment for my personal bible study I am reading through the book of Esther. To assist I am using Iain Duguid's Reformed Expository Commentary, Esther & Ruth which Catriona recently gave me for my birthday!

It has really only been in the last few years that I have dipped into the world of commentaries and used them in my devotional reading. Up until then I found myself using only daily reading notes or a study bible. However, I have found investing in a good commentary helps me to read the bible for all it's worth (to coin the phrase from Fee & Stuart's book!). Nonetheless, it is often difficult to know what kind of commentary to buy. I am fortunate, not only to have learned what's good and not so good from my time at Bible college, but I have a preacher for a husband and a Pastor who always highlights good commentaries that he is using in his preaching series. So, here is one such commentary that is biblically and theologically faithful.

Duguid's commentary has challenged many assumptions I had about these two biblical women. Further, I have found that Iain Duguid also provides an excellent exegetical treatment of the text; he is theologically faithful to God's sovereignty in salvation history, focusing on Christ through the lens of redemptive history; and he is intensely practical as he applies God's Word to our contemporary setting.

If that is not enough to whet your appetite, here's an excerpt from the book's preface:
The books of Esther and Ruth are not really stories about their respective "heroines." Rather, thy are part of the Bible's larger story about God and his dealings with his people, and with the world. This is true even though the Book of Esther does not so much as mention the name of God. As in everyday life, God's intervention is everywhere visible in the Book of Esther, even though his presence is concealed. The essential conflict between the two kingdoms - the empire of Ahasuerus and the kingdom of God - plays itself out in the lives of flawed and unexpected individuals, as God delivers his people once again from the threat of extinction.

Meanwhile. in the Book of Ruth, the Great Redeemer shows his love and compassion to the embittered Naomi as well as to her foreign daughter-in-law, Ruth. His grace brings home the disobedient prodigal daughter with empty hands, so that he can astonish her with unexpected fullness. In both stories, the grace of God to the undeserving and the outcasts is prominently on display. Both stories thus constantly point to Christ as the one in whom that grace will fully and finally come to aliens and strangers, redeeming rebellious sinners and making them into God's new people.
Over the weeks ahead I hope to share with you some of what I've been learning and hopefully, applying, from this portion of God's Word. In the meantime, if you are wondering which commentaries might be worth investing in, here are two links to some recommendations.

Desiring God Recommendations
Andreas Kostenberger Recommendations

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been really interested in how commentaries are being used. I've asked at a few places but have yet to get an answer. I know that w/ my commentaries there are several pages to just one chapter and sometimes I get bogged down and feel like I am going nowhere, especially if I use it in my private morning worship as opposed to a specific study time later- in which I do not remain as consistent. So, when ladies are talking about using concordances- just how are they doing it?
Molly

Nicki said...

Anonymous,

I think there can be a real tendency to get bogged in commentaries if you're not careful. I can only speak personally, but I don't always use a commentary for personal devotions but when I am taking my bible study seriously I do find it helpful to browse through a commentary to get my bearings on the context of the book/chapter and familiarise myself with sense of the passage.

More recently I have personally found my bible readings are more concentrated on getting to the meaning of the passage and what it means for my life. The commentary I recommended is very good for that. It has 6 or 7 pages to read on one chapter but it does not get bogged down in the Hebrew of the text or sentence construction or anything too technical. It simply, and fully explains the historical context, why the book is written and what it means theologically in the overall context of the bible. It then brings out the main points of the passage and what th writer is trying to convey and applies them to our contemporary situation.

This is the kind of commentary I find particularly helpful, just as I would find other books written on themes or characters of the bible that would aid and stretch personal bible reading. Likewise, if I am tackling a certain book I would also download and listen to a few sermons on that book.

It's great to have the bible in one hand and read it as it is. However, if you are anything like me, I find myself at times reading and not taking fully what God's Word is teaching me unless I investigate further by using a commentary, listening to a sermon, reading a book alongside the subject.

I hope this answers your question! Remember it's just my thoughts and what I find helpful, there is no one correct way!

Nicki ;)