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This series of commentaries on the New English Bible is designed for use in schools and colleges, and for the minister and the layman. Each volume comments on one book, or part, of the Bible. In each the text is given in full.
From the author's 2004 obituary in The Scotsman: "Professor Ernest Best... was an internationally renowned New Testament scholar... Prof Best (known to most as Paddy) was one of a small number of radical young Presbyterian ministers of the immediate post-war period who took a strongly ecumenical stance and, among other things, refused to become members of the Orange Order... The major part of his second book, The Temptation and the Passion : The Markan Soteriology, a study of Mark's Gospel, was written in a manse that had neither electricity nor running water... At Glasgow, he replaced Prof William Barclay who had a huge reputation as a broadcaster and populariser of the New Testament and was a highly popular teacher with the students... He had a lively sense of humour and a over-developed liking for shaggy-dog stories."
Best wrote the book under review early in his career; the Cambridge Bible Commentaries are notable for the number of their authors who, as did Best, went on to distinguish themselves in biblical studies. The audience for the series, based on the text of the New English Bible, was seen to be teachers, young people, and the general reader--"the commentators have been asked to assume no specialized theological knowledge, and no knowledge of Greek and Hebrew." (p. v)
Within these limits, Best provides a distillation of the New Testament scholarship extant in the mid-Sixties of the last century. He succeeds in making Paul's longest and most theologically intricate letter accessible to the intended audience. For instance, his handling of the predestination aspects of Romans 9 (pp. 110ff.) is masterful and balanced, moving beyond his moderately liberal Presbyterian background.
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