Commentary: The Pastorals, The Book of Job

The Pastorals

The two letters of Paul to Timothy and the letter to Titus (generally called the Pastoral Epistles) are often treated by scholars as a later creation of some unknown author. This often has the effect of devaluing their teaching and making some regard the Pastorals as only of secondary importance in the canon of Scripture. Therefore, it is important to fins a commentary that will take the claim to Pauline authorship seriously and argue it persuasively.

In this category, the contribution by J.N.D. Kelly (Black series, 1963) is the most helpful. As well as arguing strongly for Pauline authorship, he approaches the interpretation of these epistles very helpfully as a church historian, setting them within a believable life setting in the middle of the First Century AD.

Donald Guthrie’s contribution to the Tyndale series (new paperback edn, 1983) similarly provides a good defence of Pauline authorship and a basic exercises, but is not as detailed as Kelly’s work.

Not to be overlooked is the new commentary by Gordon Fee (Good News Commentary, 1984) and the brief study by G.W. Knight III, The Faithful Sayings in the Pastoral Epistles (Baker, 1979). The latter is a study of some important passages. Some readers will find help in William Hendricksen’s commentary, which is now bound with he work on Thessalonians (1983). Finally, John Stott’s Guard the Gospel in the Bible Speaks Today Series (1973) shows how 2 Timothy can be expounded with relevance to our contemporary situation.

The Book of Job

There is no shortage of commentaries on the book of Job, which makes the task of selection and comment difficult. Many difficult questions surround this book. Is the main subject of the book really suffering? Why do we find no mention of the great acts of God in Israel’s history? Who was Job? When did he live? What does he repent of at the end of the book (42:6). Why, then, does God say he spoke what was right?

F.I. Andersen’s commentary in the Tyndale series is excellent (IVP, 1976). It combines readability with careful scholarship in a remarkable way for such a small volume. H.H. Rowley’s The Book of Job (The New Century Bible Commentary [Eerdmans, 1976]) is a typical ‘critical’ commentary: insightful on many details, but deficient in his interpretation of the whole because he dismisses certain sections as ‘not original’. The very old International Critical Commentary by S.R. Driver and G.B. Gray (T. & T. Clark, 1921) contains detailed notes on the Hebrew text which are still worth consulting. Robert Gordis, a Jewish scholar, has written The Book of God and Men: A Study of Job (University of Chicago Press, 1965), a series of thorough essays on the various sections of the book, its themes, and other issues. M. Pope’s Anchor Bible Commentary (Doubleday, 1965) is most valuable for its 84 page introduction; the detailed commentary is only for those familiar with Hebrew.

A most interesting work for those interested in ‘literary’ approaches to the text is N. Habel, The Book of Job (SCM, 1985). Habel’s views are accessible in briefer form in Job, Knox Preaching Guides (John Knox Press, 1981).

Watch out for the forthcoming Word Biblical Commentary by David Clines. I am sure it will be outstanding. J.E. Hartley, The Book of Job, NICOT (Eerdmans, 1988) has just appeared, and looks very good indeed.

Two other books should be mentioned. E. Jones, The Triumph of Job (SCM, 1966) has a useful ‘popular’ discussion of the book’s theme. N. Snaith, The Book of Job: Its Origin and Purpose (SCM, 1968) is more technical.

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