Logos launched, last year, a new commentary series aimed at bringing the best of Evangelical scholarship to bear on the interpretation of the biblical text. It’s called the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.
I’ve received the commentaries on Philemon and Ezra/Nehemiah (take note, Thomas Bolin) and feel like saying a few things about them. But first, a word about the series itself.
These days a lot of Evangelicals are being ‘shamed’ into retreat of a sort into the back room of biblical studies. ‘Oh Evangelicals can’t be objective so their work is illegitimate’ or ‘Evangelical = Fundamentalist, ergo, what they write doesn’t matter’ are phrases sometimes heard in the hallways of academic conferences. Take heart, Evangelicals, you have no cause to be ashamed of who you are or where you stand.
Let’s be really, really objective for a moment, shall we? These days the bible is read through a variety of lenses. We have ‘queer’ commentaries, ‘feminist’ commentaries, ‘minority’ commentaries, ‘third world’ commentaries, ‘Catholic’ commentaries, ‘secularist’ commentaries, ‘Pentecostal’ commentaries and of course the usual ‘historical-critical’ commentaries. And the one common truth they all share is that they come from a point of view- they all operate with presuppositions. I guarantee you that if you pick up a ‘queer’ commentary its reading of Romans 1-2 will be quite idiosyncratic, pressing, as it must, a reading which accords to its viewpoint.
Historical-critical commentaries too come from a point of view which has problems inherent in the system. The entire ‘documentary hypothesis’ of the Pentateuch is a case in point. It’s nothing more than the fruit of academic imagination, pure and simple, and yet it remains the reigning theory of pentateuchal composition.
As my dear teacher reminded us all in an essay he wrote many, many years ago- ‘there is no such thing as presuppositionless exegesis!’
Hence, fellow Evangelicals, don’t be ashamed of who you are nor of your supposition that Scripture is just that, Scripture. ‘Queer’ theorists aren’t ashamed of who they are nor of their point of view and neither are feminists. Why should Evangelicals be?
Frankly I’m proud of Logos for publishing a commentary series that actually admits its presuppositions beforehand. I’m not ashamed of the title ‘Evangelical’ and I look forward to digging in more to exegetical commentaries which bear the name I also proudly wear.
So, in the next week or so, expect a few words about both the Philemon volume and the Ezra/Nehemiah volume.