Tag Archives: Reformation Commentary on Scripture

Reformation Commentary on Scripture NT Vol. VIII: Romans 9-16

Reformation Commentary on Scripture New Testament Vol. VIII: Romans 9-16. Edited by Philip D.W. Krey and Peter D.S. Krey. General Editor, Timothy George, Associate General Editor, Scott M. Manetsch. Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2016. 384 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster for less. You can purchase for Kindle.

Introduction/Summary

I have been blessed to review a number of these extraordinary commentaries. You can read those reviews here.

From the back of the book:

Writing to the early Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2 ESV).

Perhaps more than any other New Testament epistle, Paul’s letter to the Romans has been the focus of Christian reflection throughout the church’s history, transforming the minds and convicting the hearts of believers. Sixteenth-century reformer Martin Luther reflected the church’s longstanding emphasis on this portion of the canon: “Let the Epistle to the Romans be the door and the key to holy Scripture for you; otherwise you will never enter into a proper understanding and comprehension of the Bible.”

In this volume of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture, Philip Krey and Peter Krey guide readers with care through a diversity of Reformation-era commentary on the second half of Paul’s letter to the Roman church. Among the difficult issues addressed by Paul and commented on by early modern exegetes were the predestination of God’s elect, the destiny of Israel, the role of Gentiles in salvation history, the ethical demands of the Christian life, and the Christian’s relationship to the state.

Here, readers will encounter familiar voices and discover lesser-known figures from a variety of theological traditions, including Lutherans, Reformed, Radicals, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics. The volume draws on a variety of resources, including commentaries, sermons, treatises, and confessions, much of which appears here for the first time in English. Gathering together these Reformation-era reflections, it provides resources for contemporary preachers, enables scholars to better understand the depth and breadth of Reformation biblical commentary and aids the ongoing transformation of the minds—and lives—of people today.

As with most commentaries, this volume looks at each pericope of Scripture found in Romans chapters 9-16. This particular series allows the Reformers to give us their thoughts on the various passages.

Review

Romans 9. What fun can be had in Romans 9. What debates many Christians have today because of Romans 9. Twenty percent of the actual text of the commentary found in this book is devoted to Romans 9 while the remaining eighty percent looks at the final seven chapters! In other words, the Krey’s ably show that the debate on Romans 9 is not new nor will it be decided this side of eternity. In the end, while we must strive to understand how we understand this most important chapter in all of Scripture, we must do so with all humility.

The Krey’s show how vehement the arguments were, but also where charity was granted. There is much to be learned in this historical commentary, but to be able to say that one view over another is more right because more people held to it at an important time in church history is nonsense.

I appreciate their willingness to include the views of non-protestants like the Spanish Catholic theologian Domingo de Soto. Of great value to the modern reader is the brief 40-page biographical sketches offered at the end of the book that will explain to us who the likes of Domingo de Soto is.

Recommendation

While the value of this series is the historical perspective offered at the time of the Reformation, the value of this particular volume is to instruct today’s Christians and theologians in the right and wrong ways to disagree. We must understand that none of us have it truly figured out on the secondary and tertiary issues of the faith. What better place to begin understanding this than by looking at those theological giants from the Reformation and see how they often times agreed to disagree.

Reformation Commentary on Scripture OT Vol. V: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles Edited by Cooper and Lohrmann

OT 5Reformation Commentary on Scripture Old Testament Vol. V: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles. Edited by Derek Cooper and Martin J. Lohrmann. General Editor, Timothy George, Associate General Editor, Scott M. Manetsch. Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2016. 799 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster for less. You can purchase for Kindle for much less.

Introduction

I have reviewed a number of the commentaries in this series already. You can read those here.

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.

Summary

This particular volume looks at the historical books of the Old Testament that detail the prophetic reign of Samuel to the fall of Jerusalem. Herein we find many of the beloved stories of the Old Testament as found in children’s Bibles the world over.

The commentators, too numerous to list individually, offer their thoughts and insights on Scripture during an era of church history that is noted for having been rigorous in Biblical study and application.

Review

In lumping six of the largest historical books in the Old Testament canon, this particular commentary is quite large at 800 pages. This may be too much for some or too little for others.

For example, only 6 1/2 pages are exhausted with comments on 2 Samuel 7 – arguably one of the most critical chapters in these 6 books of Scripture and perhaps all of the Bible. There are only 5 pages for the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 18).

Perhaps the one of the best features, that I have yet to discuss in my reviews, is the general introduction found in every volume that offers a brief introduction to the many traditions of the Reformation. For example, the Anabaptists, the Zurich Reformers, the Genevan Reformers, and even the historical context (very important!) in which these men wrote. This all helps to give today’s reader a bit more of an understanding of what influenced their interpretations and applications of Scripture.

Most of the time these Reformers simply stuck to the Scriptures. Sometimes, however, they would make a point about how the Catholic Church violated Scripture. Still other times, their own framework for learning, a humanism that is not what it is today, would bleed through and lead them on a somewhat errant path…by today’s understanding and application.

Regardless, their is a treasure trove of insight in these pages.

Recommendation

The historical books are fertile ground for sermon illustrations and even applications to sermons not to mention numerous sermon series. This commentary is an excellent resource to add to your personal library as it will undoubtedly aid you in your understanding of historical Christianity and the applications for these texts to our lives even today.

 

Reformation Commentary on Scripture III Luke Edited by Beth Kreitzer

LukeReformation Commentary on Scripture New Testament III – Luke. Edited by Beth Kreitzer. General Editor, Timothy George, Associate General Editor, Scott M. Manetsch. Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2015. 629 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster books for less or on Kindle.

Introduction

Dr. Kreitzer is the director of the program in Liberal Studies at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. This commentary series is a 28-volume commentary “bringing the insights of the Reformation to the contemporary church.” I have reviewed two previous volumes in this series. Those reviews can be found here.

Summary

Obviously, this is a commentary on the Gospel of Luke. Therefore, the reader would treat it as a resource rather than reading it straight through. That being stated, as the student of the Bible proceeds through the text, a short, few word synopsis of how a particular Reformer understood the biblical text is to be found. For example, in Luke 3:15-18, you have the heading “John is not the Coming Messiah” followed by “John’s Sacrament Does Not Give the Spirit” in small caps followed by the name Huldrych Zwingli.

After reading Zwingli’s commentary on the passage, you would read Easumus’ take in that “John acknowledges that his baptism cannot convey the Spirit Without Christ.” Next, you would read Calvin’s thoughts under the heading “Christ Wields the Winnowing Fork of the Gospel.”

As can be seen, this work is full of snippet of information on how the text was understood at an important time in the history of the church.

Review

Given the recent plethora of digital writings from the Reformation, this commentary helps to bring together major streams of thoughts concerning the interpretation and application of Scripture both then and now.

Also, the biographical sketches of the men and their works at the end of this volume is extremely invaluable for the modern reader. What sets this commentary apart from others is that it offers a wide swath of views. We quickly see how the Reformers agreed on the essentials of the Christian faith yet often disagreed on the non-essentials. This is an important lesson for us to learn today as many want to elevate the non-essentials to essentials.

Another element to this commentary that is extremely helpful is the overview of the general thought of the Reformers concerning the larger sections. This helps the reader trace the thinking of the forest so to speak to better understand the individual trees.

I was a bit surprised at how relatively small this commentary was compared to those of say Darrell Bock and Philip Ryken, which like many others, are multiple volume commentaries on Luke. Regardless, there is plenty of information included that will be an aid to the student.

Recommendation

If you are a Protestant and a serious student of the Bible, I highly recommend this series of commentaries. Luke is one of the richest gospels, especially concerning detailed accounts of the life of Christ. Beth Kreitzer has greatly aided modern evangelicalism’s understanding of this gospel with her work on bringing together the thoughts of the Reformers.

Reformation Commentary on Scripture New Testament IV – John 1-12 edited by Craig S. Farmer

RCS Vol. IVReformation 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.

Introduction

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.

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Recommendation

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.

Reformation Commentary on Scripture XII Exekiel, Daniel Ed. by Carl L. Beckwith

Reformation Commentary on Scripture – Old Testament XII – Ezekiel, Daniel.  Edited by Carl L. Beckwith.  General Editor, Timothy George.  Downers Grove:  IVP Academic, 2012.  $50.00.  Purchase for much less at Amazon.

Introduction

This volume on Ezekiel and Daniel in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series is the second of a proposed twenty-eight volume commentary.  The “commentators” are adapted from the sermons and writings of 16th century preachers, scholars, and reformers.

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.

Summary

In essence, this is a commentary on the Books of Ezekiel and Daniel found in the Old Testament as understood in the 16th century. From the back of the book, we find which Reformers “contributed” to this volume.

This volume collects the comments of the monumental figures like Luther, Calvin and Melancthon, alongside many lesser known and read thinkers, such as Heinrich Bullinger, Hans Denck, Giovanni Diodati, Johann Gerhard, John Mayer, Matthew Mead, Johann Oecolampadius, Jakob Raupius, Johann Wigand and Andrew Willet. Several beloved English Puritans are included as well: Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Thomas Manton and John Owen.

The work is like any other commentary in that it follows the basic pericopes of the books while offering the voices of the Reformers independent of one another. I.e., they are not having a “discussion” so to speak.

Review

I would first caution against purchasing this series for the sole purpose of Scripture study and sermon preparation.  Instead, the value of this series, in my estimation, is going to be found in the fourth goal of the editors: that the modern reader will attain a deeper understanding of the Reformation itself.  Just because their thoughts are older and perhaps deeper than much of ours today, does not set them apart as infallible.  We must always search the Scriptures and allow the Bible to interpret itself first.

That being said, I do believe that having the thoughts of some great men who disagreed during the time of the Reformation…arguably, the most important event since the inception of the church in the first century…is invaluable.  It is nice to have the various thoughts side by side and to see where they not only disagreed but also to see where they agreed.  What is more, it is interesting to read how far they took some of their thoughts in reaction to the Catholic Church as well.

Oddly enough, this commentary can be read cover to cover or as a resource.  Either way, the reader will be enlightened and challenged to further plumb the depths of God’s Word.

Recommendation

At $50 per book, yes, you can get them cheaper at Amazon, the price may be a bit steep for some.  If, however, you enjoy church history and want to peer behind the curtain of some of the formative minds of Protestantism as the movement was taking place, then this series will be an excellent one-stop shop for all your needs.  I do recommend it though I caution that not everyone will want to get this set.  I also caution against taking the thoughts of these men and letting them be the end all explanation to the Scriptures today.  There are quite a few places where you will disagree and that is alright.