Reformation Commentary on Scripture New Testament IV – John 1-12. Timothy George, General Editor Farmer. Craig S. Farmer, Editor. Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2014. 599 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.
I have reviewed another commentary in this series – Ezekiel and Daniel – and found it to be extremely informational. Craig S. Farmer is associate professor of history and humanities and Joe O. and Mabel Stephens Chair of the Bible at Milligan College near Elizabethton, TN.
The “commentators” are adapted from the sermons and writings of 16th century preachers, scholars, and reformers. They come from across all denominational stripes and seek to show the modern reader the rich heritage and the foundation from which
The editors seek to introduce readers to the depth and richness of the minds of the Reformation era. The four goals are, 1) enrichment of contemporary biblical interpretation through exposure to Reformation-era biblical exegesis, 2) a renewal of contemporary preaching and 3) a renewal of biblical interpretation through exposure to Reformation-era exegesis, and finally 4) a deeper understanding of the Reformation itself.
This work is a treasure trove of information. For example, John 3:16 has subheadings like “A Pledge of God’s Mercy to Those Who Fear God’s Wrath” by Caspar Cruciger, “Justification Originates in God’s Love” by Johannes Brenz, “God’s Universal and Particular Love” by Wolfgang Musculus and “No Greater Love” by Menno Simons. In other words, one of the most oft-quoted verses today is shown to be understood quite a bit differently at the time of the Reformation. Not that we are wrong to use it, but the application has not always been what it is now.
Further, this commentary is more than a commentary. It includes biographical sketches of the people and their works during the time period. It even includes a timeline of the Reformation which is invaluable as you seek to understand the context of when these sermons were preached or the books were written. The timeline extends from 1337 to 1649 and includes the Reformers and the Puritans who continued the fight for the faith after the Reformers.
By reading this commentary, it can be read devotionally, the reader will glean much more insight into the thought processes of the Reformers and their adherents. Farmer did a great job wading through the countless sermons found in the gospel of John and compiling an excellent representation of the thinking of the time. In offering such a wide variety of authors, he introduces many new names to the plethora of common names from the time to today’s readers.
As I stated in the other review, $50 per book is a bit steep for most. If, however, you seek to be a serious student of the history of the interpretation and application of the Word of God, especially as Protestants, this is an invaluable resource. For pastors, I highly recommend this series as it will offer insight into your own understanding of the Word of God as you seek apply the timeless truths of God’s Word to your congregation today.