Commentary: Luke, Exodus


There are two helpful introductory studies on Luke’s gospel: Luke-Historian and Theologian by I. H. Marshall (Paternoster, 1970) and a work by F. Bovon, Luke the Theologian (Pickwick Publications, 1987).

I. H. Marshall’s commentary (Paternoster, 1978), which is based on the Greek text, is rather technical, with a mixture of linguistic, historical and theological comments. Marshall is preoccupied with explaining the historicity of events in the Gospel. While this is helpful and perhaps necessary, it tends to take up too much space at the expense of theological discussion. It does not necessarily give good ideas for preaching.

J. A. Fitzmeyer’s work in two volumes (Anchor Bible, Doubleday, 1985) provides an excellent introduction and has new translations, comments, notes and bibliography on each passage. Although the commentary is written by a Roman Catholic scholar, who is perhaps theologically more liberal than Marshall, it is much easier to use and, in many respects, a more challenging and helpful exposition.

An excellent value for money commentary is that by Leon Morris (IVP/Eerdmans, 1974) in the Tyndale Series. It covers Luke in overview and is well suited for basic Bible study. It does not always give the detailed exegesis of passages required by preachers.

Two specialist studies to note are D. Seccombe’s Possessions and the Poor in Luke (Linz, 1982) and R. Maddox’s The Purpose of Luke/Acts (T. and T. Clark, 1982).


As in our review of commentaries on Genesis, I draw attention to The Theme of the Pentateuch, by D..Clines which helpfully setsExodus in the context of the theme of Genesis to Deuteronomy.

Dr Alan Cole is the author of the Tyndale Commentary on Exodus (IVP, 1973). It is a

reliable, readable, informative guide. Its brevity is a strength, but there is less opportunity for theological discussion than one might hope for in a commentary on such an important book.

Nahum M. Sarna, a Jewish scholar, has recently published a work on Exodus [Exploring Exodus: The Heritage of Biblical Israel (Schocken Books, 1986)]. Like his Genesis commentary, it is packed with historical and cultural information, but in such a way as to illuminate the text of Exodus, rather than distract from it. Theological comment (and there is plenty) relates extensively to other parts of the Old Testament (but, predictably, very rarely makes any reference to the New Testament).

A very different commentary is that by Brevard S. Childs [Old Testament Library (London: SCM, 1974)]. Childs is a critical scholar who is disillusioned with the results of Biblical criticism this century. The goal of the commentator, according to Childs, is to interpret the text of Scripture as we have it, not as the critic reconstructs it. This has yielded a very worthwhile commentary which traces themes into the New Testament in some detail. This commentary is for those with some training in modern Biblical studies. Childs is not an Evangelical, but he has assembled the kind of information that an Evangelical wants in a commentary!

Finally a very substantial commentary by John I. Durham should be mentioned [Exodus, Word Biblical Commentary 3 (Waco, Texas: Word, 1987)]. It has a wealth of information, but if you are going to outlay the money, I think I would put it into the work by Childs.

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