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The Letter to the Hebrews (The Pillar New Testament Commentary) Hardcover – February 22, 2010
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Serious readers of the letter have always recognized the powerful effect of its carefully crafted discourse. They have also grappled with the implications of its theologically complex message. With his contribution to the Pillar New Testament Commentary series on The Letter to the Hebrews, Peter O'Brien takes his place in this long line of interpreters. Research fellow at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, O'Brien is a well-established figure in the world of New Testament studies.
As with most commentaries, O'Brien begins with a brief overview of the introductory issues (1-43). O'Brien holds that the author of Hebrews was a prominent leader among the churches and a competent exegete exceedingly familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures. The letter was most likely written in the mid first century to Jewish Christians located in Rome and in danger of returning to some form of Judaism. As a "word of exhortation," Hebrews takes the form of a written sermon meant to be "read aloud again and again" (22). The many sermonic qualities of the text such as the use of the first person, the language of speaking and hearing, and the intimacy of the discourse confirm this observation.
Accordingly, the structure of the book reflects this "complex interplay between exposition and exhortation" that runs throughout, with "major turning points" at 4:14-16 and 10:19-25 and central theological exposition in chapters 5:1-10:18 (34). Theologically, Hebrews stands within the mainstream of early Christian tradition but also contributes its own distinctive developments.Read more ›
Peter O'Brien's commentary on Hebrews helps us do that. He writes with a scholars sharp thinking and a pastor's heart. He understands that this isn't just an academic exercise, he is offering a guide to aid men in the proclamation of God's Word to his people. There is more at stake than scholastic street cred.
Most importantly, for a commentary on Hebrews sensitive to pastoral concerns, he deals generously and carefully with the infamous warning passages. As he explores the text he clearly explains the constructions and the available options. Whether everyone will be convinced of his conclusions is not the ultimate value of O'Brien's commentary. Instead, he shows how we can be gracious and careful in our Bible study. This is a model that we can all follow and benefit from.
This is a welcome addition to any pastor's library. O'Brien's careful exegesis will help any minister or bible study leader as they lead their people through this beautiful and powerful book of the NT.
NOTE: In accordance with the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission I would like to state that I received a complementary copy of the aforementioned text for the purposes of review. I was not required to furnish a positive review.
What I think stands out the most to me about O'Brien is that he is "readable". Especially when you're reading a commentary out-loud for devotional purposes, you want something that keeps your attention and if you find the text getting sidetracked in academic disputes, you want for it to be a dispute that actually matters.
This book has everything you'd expect from the Pillar series. A footnote every other sentence - often summarizing large bodies of work. And an eye towards biblical theology, which is always nice.
Some of the other reviewers (particularly the "readable and rigorous" one) have better, more professional reviews of the book, but I thought I'd explain the things I liked about the commentary and the things I didn't like.
Things I liked:
- Orthodox: Goes without saying for the pillar series, but I thought I'd mention it as top on the list.
- Brevity: Again, this means more if you're reading the commentary out-loud than if you're using it as a reference. But O'Brien keeps it simple. He doesn't waste words.
- Robustness: As you'd expect, O'Brien doesn't put it on paper unless he's thought about it a lot. The words in this book have clearly gone through the filter of spending years in his brain and being discussed at the university with students, and other colleagues.
- Sympathy: Definitely not the best word to describe this.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Peter O'Brien is a top notch NT scholar who has also written one of the best commentaries on Philippians in the NIGTC, as well as the volume on Ephesians in the Pillar series, and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Zachary G.
I gained some good insights. I will refer to it in the future, too.Published 3 months ago by Melissa
Very good commentary. Academic and scholarly but also very practical for sermon prep.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I love the interlacing of sound and current exegetical work with theological discussion as well as practical insights for life. Very good for students, pastors and scholars alike.Published 10 months ago by Dunedain of Mirkwood
Next to P.E. Hughes commentary, this is the best work on Hebrews I have found. Well researched and documented. A must for evangelical pastors and teachers.Published 20 months ago by David Gough