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The Epistle to the Hebrews (New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT)) Hardcover – April 12, 2012
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-- Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"We are living in an age of incredibly good evangelical commentaries. Gary Cockerill's Hebrews is among the best, a first-rate work that is both readable and very deep. The centrality of rhetorical analysis and structural concerns adds a lot to the value of this work, and his insights about the use of the Old Testament in understanding the book's message are extremely helpful. . . . Readers will gain a fine understanding of this incredibly important epistle and its place in the life of the church."
I. Howard Marshall
-- University of Aberdeen
"It is no easy task to write a replacement for the work of such a scholar as F. F. Bruce on so demanding a book as Hebrews, but Cockerill amply justifies the trust placed in him by the editor of this series. In particular the attention that Cockerill pays to the author's use of the Old Testament and to the book's structure takes readers beyond Bruce's work. The exposition of the letter is profound and practical and yet so clearly presented that preachers will be particularly grateful for this volume."
David A. deSilva
-- Ashland Theological Seminary
"As in the best commentaries, this volume is more than a rehashing of scholarship; it is also a contribution to the same. Cockerill advances new proposals regarding the structure of the sermon and its author's hermeneutics of the Jewish Scriptures. Cockerill's Hebrews will proudly take its place alongside Attridge's, Lane's, and Koester's commentaries as an essential resource."
George H. Guthrie
-- Union University
"Gary Cockerill successfully integrates a thorough immersion in contemporary research on Hebrews with exegetical insight and pastoral sensitivity. This masterfully organized, crisply written commentary pulls together Cockerill's untiring work over the past three and a half decades. I highly recommend it."
Biblical Theology Bulletin
“The commentary is thorough without bombarding the reader with irrelevant minutiae, shows independence in making exegetical decisions, and is approachable while still giving essential technical details. . . . Helpful and comprehensive. . . . A solid addition to the NICNT series.”
Journal for the Study of the New Testament
“The commentary is detailed and readable, and Cockerill succeeds remarkably well in clearly explaining a range of scholarly views about complex issues. . . . The commentary engages throughout with a wide array of relevant literature, including the most recent studies, and it is very evidently the fruit of a long and deep immersion in Hebrews.”
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
“Cockerill’s commentary is a splendid addition to the NICNT and should serve as a standard exegetical resource for many years to come.”
“An exegetically insightful and theologically sensitive reading of Hebrews. . . . Anyone planning to study, teach, or preach through Hebrews should have this commentary at their side.”
“It is comprehensive, sensitive, and thorough, and engages with a wide range of secondary literature through extensive footnotes. . . . A genuine contribution to the study of Hebrews with an accessible analysis of the text. . . . This commentary will be a valuable addition to any pastor’s bookshelf.”
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Top customer reviews
Hebrews is presented as a pastoral sermon. The message assumes the validity of OT passages. God has spoken in Psalms and other OT passages. Moses bears witness to things that would be spoken. The finality of Christ is shown by how Christ fulfils God's covenant in the Pentateuch. Through His word in the Son, God invites his people into a life based on the certainty of His promise of future salvation.
Gareth Cockerill's prose mirrors the powerful rhetoric of Hebrews. There is a certain hymnic quality about it, his twin themes pounding like a Gregorian chant. Cockerill's exposition shifts in three movements from the all sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, through freedom from a broken old covenant, to the sanctuary of the new and better covenant.
I cannot pare down a single superfluous clause or word anywhere; it is a very crisp and intense read. A highlighter is superfluous, unless you are hunting for the many gems in the exegetical footnotes and helpful remarks in smaller print pacing the text, which reads like a parallel book explaining exhaustive secondary literature. Consider the whole commentary underlined, unless you are colour coding your own themes.
Cockerill's focus on his two main themes and tight structure leaves no room for familiar troublesome controversies, for which one has to fall back on other works. No Calvin versus Arminian debate etc. This is a new work, but hardly a "new edition" and it would be wrong to call this a "replacement edition". FF Bruce's 1988 NICNT should be considered Volume 1 and Cockerill's 2012 Hebrews Volume 2 because there is virtually no repetition of material, as hard as this is to achieve. At double the size of 1988 Bruce, Gareth's Volume 2 also shrinks basics covered by Bruce, which frees ample space for post-1988 academic works and more discussion.
Harold Attridge, Hermeneia 1989 and Paul Ellingworth, NIGTC 1993 are indispensable technical works; the list of 154 unique Greek words is set out in full in NIGTC. Peter O'Brien, Pillar 2010 has a devotional flavour. Luke Timothy Johnson, New Testament Library 2006 is a fascinating read, and its compressed print contains more material per page than the well-spaced and larger print of 2012 NICNT. LT Johnson's NTL has a fairly different slant, e.g. OT passages being considered metaphors in Hebrews. It is no surprise that Johnson is rarely quoted in 2012 NICNT, but cited with approval in "moral purity in the Son is in his obedience to his father". Moffatt's 1924 ICC reads quirky nowadays, but he might eventually be proven right.
Most expositions, like Word, IVP, NIVAC,etc follow the Melchisedec overture until its crescendo at Hebrews 11:1, but the two books with distinctive views are LT Johnson's and Gareth's on the same book of Hebrews. I knocked my brains out with 2006 LT Johnson's Catholic angle, only to have an encore opposite knocking from Gareth's Southern Protestant perspective, the concussions resulting in "Synoptic Headache with double vision". Koester is arguably more conventional.
Gareth Cockerill did his dissertation and doctoral thesis on Hebrews 7 (the chapter heavy on Melchisedec). I initially thought he was a young theologian in academic purgatory, but his photo (Eerdmans blog) looks like a cantankerous grandpa who will put you down with a cynical observation. Gordon Fee says in his preface that this is his last editorial effort; frankly revealing he has incipient Alzheimer's. Incidentally, Fee's 2007 "Pauline Christology", now in its third printing, does not discuss Hebrews. An interviewer asked Gareth about the authorship of Hebrews, and he says Hebrews is by a pastor familiar with Paul's works, but deftly adds that most scholarship excludes Paul as the author. Gareth's 2012 Hebrews notes Eta Linnemann's recent attempt to revive Pauline authorship. Eta writes incisively and sensibly, so I am with Eta on Paul. She said elsewhere (Is there a Synoptic Problem?) that a massive collection of scholarly opinions does not make a position more valid.
No digest of Spicq's work - relevant Spicq appears in footnotes. Almost nil on Shepherd of Hermas or Ignatius of Antioch. Jeremiah 31:31 not belaboured. No Holocaust theory. Warning passages not over-emphasized and worked subtly into text. Weak on 11Q13 (11QMelchizedek). No scalometric links to Petrine authorship or Silvanus of 1 Peter. Index at the end is skeletal and perfunctory, wisely leaving Biblical word order to point to corresponding text. There is a full discussion of extant Codices, Chester Beatty II p46, other papyri, but curiously omitting Codex Vaticanus B03 having Galatians ending on Chapter 58, and Hebrews beginning as Chapter 59 in B03. The Galatians-Hebrews nexus has mind-boggling implications, if explored.
2012 NICNT gives explicit critiques of the Suffering Son and the Mercy Seat. Esau is given a lengthy treatment not found elsewhere. Every reader will find sweet spots in this text. I lost a few weekends on the web looking for a proper exposition of 4QDeut32 (4Q44) until the arrival of this book. 2012 NICNT shows the superiority of the traditional book. I was happy to find an authoritative multi-page discussion of 4QDeut32, covering, inter alia, the MT, other Hebrew text and LXX translations. There are a large number of Hebrew passages and references. The Hebrew typeface in this volume of the New Testament is bold and very clear, with the letter "shin" especially well rendered.
Clearly, 2012 NICNT should not be used as a beginner's guide to Hebrews. Nothing in FF Bruce's 1988 Hebrews "Volume 1" is dated. Bruce's enduring relevance is preserved as a cheaper paperback edition, like John Murray's 1965 NICNT pre-Douglas Moo Romans surfacing as a current paperback reprint. As far as commentaries go, 2012 NICNT Hebrews is a bargain at below 5 cents per page of high quality paper. Even cheaper logistically than a "free" download. It is exquisitely bound and printed in the USA. The cover board hinges are tougher and more robust than previous NICNT volumes. The sewn-down binding merits the cost.
Justification for this new NICNT volume is surely by faithful works of the author. Gordon Fee says it best: The reader will quickly recognize that the author is well acquainted with the secondary literature on this great biblical book. He has brought his own deep love for Hebrews...this love shines throughout these pages. I am glad to be able to commend it to one and all.
Gordon Fee manifestly understated his recommendation.
The author clearly has an outstanding theological grasp of the book and shows great enthusiasm for its teaching.
Rarely have I seen combined such great scholarship and pastoral insights, which are woven together in a single ' heavy' commentary.
One of the great things in reading this work is his openness to just let the text speak for itself.A lot of current commentaries are coming now from the reform Calvinist school and so they tend to focus in their writings with doctrinal sunglasses on. But rarely does this author feel the need to toe such a party line; he seems to much prefer to concentrate his time on what the author of Hebrews is emphasizing as important. Repeatedly then he draws our focus onto Jesus, as the great saviour of our faith .
I do have two or three of the other major commentaries on Hebrews which are helpful; but this one defiantly is a work of excellence