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Exodus: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary) Hardcover – June 15, 2006
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There have been a number of good commentaries on the book of Exodus. Many consider the 1974 volume by Brevard Childs (Old Testament Library) to be the best written, albeit by a non-evangelical. Good volumes of a somewhat more conservative and evangelical variety have been penned by Enns (NIV Application Commentary, 2000) and Durham (Word Biblical Commentary, 1987). But this is the newest and perhaps best treatment of the book. Part of the New American Commentary series, this just released volume will long serve as the first port of call for evangelical assessments of this important Old Testament book.
Good commentaries offer a balance of two things: the technical, grammatical, cultural and other background material, along with sound theological analysis. Both exegesis and exposition are required. This volume fulfils both requirements nicely.
Stuart has clearly done his homework. (He says he consulted over 1700 items, not all of which are featured in the bibliography.) He is up on all the relevant literature, and is aware of the current debates. He also writes well, and is able to provide the theological sense of the book, and individuals passages throughout.
Given the constraints of the series, his introductory remarks do not occupy much space (only 50 pages out of an 800 page work). But more detailed discussions of important points are scattered throughout the commentary. Thus a number of excurses into various disputed issues, difficult topics, or theological hot potatoes are interspersed in these pages. Surprisingly however one such item, the Divine name YHWH as revealed in Exodus 3:14, receives no separate excursus, but just a half page discussion (along with a half page footnote, leading the reader to further study).
While acknowledging that extra-biblical evidence for Exodus is thin, he is more optimistic than writers like Durham about the book's historicity. He also ascribes Mosaic authorship to the book.
His thematic approach to this book is to highlight the servant theme: Israel's' exodus from Egyptian servitude is replaced by servitude to Yahweh. The transition from being servants of a bad king to being servants of a good king is the overriding motif of the book, although Stuart lists eight other key themes, including the necessity of law, the promised land, and covenant relationship.
The commentary itself is a nice blend of giving the sense of the text along with the various technical considerations that need to be addressed. More scholarly discussion is reserved for the footnotes, which are plenteous and lengthy. Thus the main body of the text can be easily followed, but the numerous excurses and footnotes take the reader to more advanced levels, when deeper considerations are called for.
All in all this is a very fine commentary indeed, which should serve both student and scholar for many years to come.
According to Douglas Stuart, Exodus is split into two parts:
1. In Egypt, Israel was the servant of pharaoh.
2. At Sinai, they became God’s servants (20).
Stuart covers the Structure, Historical Issues, Text, Authorship, and the Theology of Exodus.
There are many excursuses thrown into the mix that are both helpful and interesting:
▪ The Angel of the Lord
▪ The Nile as a God
▪ The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart
▪ Moses’ Staff
▪ Was Moses Divorced From Zipporah?
▪ Israelite Holy War
Stuart writes, keenly aware of misinterpretations in the scriptures from the many internet forums out there. He explains YHWH’s “harshness,” slavery, and paying the bridal price (along with all of the other laws). This book is thick (that’s especially seen where Stuart explains the items in the tabernacle. He gets quite detailed there).
Unfortunately there weren’t as many ANE insights as I thought would be helpful, but what Stuart does see will help the pastor see the meaning of the text and how to bring it to the congregation.
At 826 pages there’s more than enough to read and glean here. Exodus is near impossible to read and understand on your own. Yes, while we are filled with the Spirit of the Lord, that doesn’t mean he’ll reveal to you the cultural mindset of a 15th century Egyptian people while you read is word. But what we can do is rely on others who have put in the time to study God’s word, and who equally rely on him to reveal the intended meaning as they study.
[Special thanks to Chris at B&H for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]