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The Letter to the Hebrews (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)) Hardcover – February 22, 2010
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— (from editor's preface)
"It would be difficult to find a more helpful guide than Peter O'Brien or a guide better endowed with his combination of competence and genial wisdom."
— Moore Theological College
"Peter O'Brien has produced an engaging new commentary on Hebrews that will be of particular benefit to preachers, teachers, and students. Using insights from discourse analysis, he explains how shifts in the argument take place and clarifies the way exposition and exhortation function together to achieve the author's aim. Although there are detailed discussions of technical matters at critical points, these do not disturb the flow of the commentary."
— University of Aberdeen
"O'Brien's commentary on the letter to the Hebrews is a balanced and comprehensive assessment of current work on the epistle, together with many fresh insights. The text of the commentary is clear, both in detail and in its general structure. . . I cannot commend this work too highly."
— Union University
"For careful scholarship and clear thinking there are very few commentary writers I respect more than Peter O'Brien, and his commentary on Hebrews does not disappoint. Masterfully interfacing with recent scholarship, O'Brien time and again plunges into the discussion of difficult passages with spot-on exegesis, lucidly explaining both the intent and the implications of the author's words. Due to a noticeable upturn in Hebrews research over the past two decades, the church has been blessed with many fine commentaries on this most enigmatic of New Testament books. Yet pastors are sure to embrace this particular commentary as theologically rich, consistently edifying, and singularly useful. I gladly recommend it."
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Top customer reviews
The statement about a "refund" from the publisher should be clarified as a credit usable only for other books purchased from that publisher. Before seeking the credit, note that this situation has driven the asking price of what copies remain available to more than twice the amount of that credit. I am keeping my copy, even though I own (and appreciate for its own merits) the other commentary that was the source of the unattributed quotes.
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. But what I'm saying is that O'Brien doesn't just present the opposing side, he presents it well.
My only beef with this book is that it is so light on theology. Seriously - there's very little theological integration in this book. I'm not saying it's not there, but you just expect more from O'Brien. I feel like he wasn't flexing his theological muscles. And I know this is a commentary, so maybe it's not the best place for that kind of thing. So if that's your opinion, that's fine.
One more thing, and this is just a personal thing and not a technical problem, but it really bothered me. The text that O'Brien lists at the start of each section is the TNIV, not the author's translation. So, because I don't have a lot of familiarity with Hebrews, reading the TNIV text oftentimes was what I was going off of when I was reading O'Brien's commentary. And O'Brien and the TNIV are sometimes waaay different. So you just need to watch out for that if you're going off the TNIV like I was. Again, not a formal complaint or something he did wrong. Just something that was very complicating to me when reading along.