As a seminary student, I would regularly look for Fortress Press works to use in my papers and exegetical assignments. Their stable of scholarship – including N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington III, and rising star Tommy Givens – is exemplary and typically accessible.
This commentary truly shines where it examines and parallels the texts in ancient context, the interpretive tradition, and contemporary discussion. Students as much as religious leaders will appreciate that each book pauses to intersect these three lenses, keeping them continually relevant to the reader. Each lens distinguishes the book’s current, conventional reading and infuses it with new historical insights instead of presuming that current perspectives in scholarship are the “right” way to read the text or focusing on how to read the literature itself to the neglect of it’s import.
At times dense with substance, in-text references and data, interscriptural parallels and extrabiblical callbacks, this commentary is not for the general reader. More, because the commentary is published by Fortress Press, there is a heavy bend towards Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian thought from the contributors (not to mention the intercultural approaches of the authors). These are the appreciable and hallmark assets of Fortress’ commitment to academic and theological scholarship, but not as accessible to those who are not aware of the bends a particular author might take. Supplementary chapters like “Rootlessness and Community in Context of Diaspora” or “Situating the Apostle Paul in His Day and Engaging His Legacy in Our Own” may very well help the reader catch up, as they discuss the post-Exilic periods and the New Perspective, but there is still a strong presumption on the part of the authors that situates this commentary somewhere between “serious lover of scripture” and those who are fluent in the debates taking place today. Put another way, this compact volume is a joy for those wanting to be challenged to stretch and grow with the texts.
The commentary is complemented by the Fortress Commentary on the Old Testament and Apocrypha. Together they are surely an invaluable asset to anyone working with scripture on a regular basis – student or pastoral leader and, candidly, this will be my next acquisition as I am thoroughly impressed with the current volume and eager to begin comparing the notes between the volumes.
- Reading the Christian New Testament in the Contemporary World, by Kwok Pui-lan
- Negotiating the Jewish Heritage of Early Christianity, by Lawrence M. Wills
- Rootlessness and Community in Contests of Diaspora, by Margaret Aymer
- The Apocalyptic Legacy of Early Christianity, by David A. Sanchez
- Jesus and the Christian Gospels, by Raymond Pickett
- Acts as a History of the Early Church, by Demetrius K. Williams
- Situating the Apostle Paul in His Day and Engaging His Legacy in Our Own, by Neil Elliot
Randall S. Frederick is a recent graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary. He writes for The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, State of Formation, and Theology & the City.