- Series: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament
- Hardcover: 424 pages
- Publisher: Eerdmans; 2nd edition (August 12, 1976)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802825249
- ISBN-13: 978-0802825247
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Book of Deuteronomy (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament) 2nd Edition
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-Craigie's book is solidly conservative and takes a high view of inspiration, which means that he doesn't spend scores of pages unnecessarily expounding on elaborate speculative origin theories for the book.
-Craigie has a quotable and easy-to-read writing style. This quality is important, as many brilliant exegetes are undermined by poor writing / organization.
-Craigie sticks to expounding on the text, and rarely goes off on unnecessary tangents. His focus is primarily on the details of the text (as opposed to "big picture" exposition).
-Sees the book in the format of the Suzerain-Vassal treaty, and gives some helpful information on this subject in the introduction. The section on blessings and curses was especially helpful.
-This book requires minimal to no knowledge of Hebrew and should be easy to use for the layman. This is not really a "good" or "bad" thing, but I'll include it here for the buyer to clarify who the book's target audience is.
-Disappointingly thin. The section on the specific stipulations (12-26) in particular had me wishing for more exegetical information.
-Lack of focus on the big picture. Outside of the Suzerain-vassal approach to structure, Craigie has little to say about the book's structure. The commentary follows the chapter divisions as they stand, despite the fact that several of them appear to be horribly placed (chapters 16-17 are a clear example of this). IMHO, this appears to indicate a lack of interest in the overall flow of the text.
-NT application is thin. In a conservative commentary, I had hoped and expected for more discussion on how Deuteronomy influences the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. Outside of acknowledging the more obvious quotations though, Craigie disappointed in this respect. (For instance, hardly anything is said about how Deuteronomy 30 is used in Romans 10!)
Craigie is among the better commentators on Deuteronomy--but that isn't really saying much. Admittedly, if I were to do this over, I would probably buy this book again, but this is largely because the options are limited. At the time I write this review, I feel that Deuteronomy is still not being done justice by conservative commentators. Wright is good, but thin. McConville is more detailed, but sometimes draws some erratic conclusions and still gives little attention to NT usage. Christensen was the most detailed, but also the most eccentric, since he focused way too much on his aggravatingly implausible "liturgical" theory. I hope that someone in this next generation changes this disappointing status quo and gives Deuteronomy the compelling exposition it deserves.
Probably the greatest strength of Craigie's commentary is the introductory material. Some 66 pages in length, this introduction looks at issues such as the date of composition and authorship, the Hebrew text, problems in interpretation, and the like. Although some of these issues could have been handled in more detail, Craigie does a good job of stating what the issues are and the different positions that have been taken in relation to them.
Primarily, the "twin convictions" of the commentary series is that in the OT we meet "God's word...to Israel...and His inspired and authoritative message for us." While these convictions are held by the author, I don't believe they are well executed. Yes, certain historical factors help clarify a few spots in the text, but most of Craigie's comments were more a rewording of the text and didn't delve into enough specifics to be "an authoritative guide bridging the cultural gap between today's world and the world of ancient Israel."
Regarding the first conviction (God spoke to Israel), I believe Dr Craigie takes this seriously, but a real understanding of Deuteronomy is intertwined with the rest of the Pentateuch. For example, there are far more references to Genesis 1-3 (as well as all of Genesis) throughout Deuteronomy and I don't remember any references to the rebellion of Adam. How would Israel have heard Deuteronomy 30:11-20? Are there echoes of the tree of life in there? I think so. Does 32:10 hearken back to Genesis 1:1-2? After reading this work, I didn't find myself immersed in the Pentateuch and "hearing" what Israel heard.
Regarding the second conviction (God's message to us today), I didn't find much in the way of modern application, even New Testament application. For example, Deuteronomy 32 hs been referred to as Romans in a nutshell. How does the author barely mention Romans in his exposition? Deuteronomy 25:4, Paul applies to ministers being paid, but this is only referenced in a footnote. How does Paul's (who was a good Pharisee) reading of the text shed light on how Israel heard these words?
Tying into both pillars, was it really "rape," as we understand that word, in Dt. 22:28-29? Is that what Israel heard? Is that what we should hear? This work doesn't really help, although it uses "rape."
Finally, with some of the difficulties of the text, Dr Craigie glosses the issue. For example, in Deuteronomy 32:8, it is argued by some that the original text demonstrates polytheism in Israel and was changed to cover this fact. Again, not really a peep addressing this issue.
In the end, this commentary was a disappointment and is not a necessary resource for a study of Deuteronomy. If you are a pastor, theologian or layman, I believe your time and money is better invested elsewhere.