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Proverbs (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) Paperback – February 13, 2009
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"The Tyndale volumes have long been the premier shorter-length commentary series on both Testaments throughout the English-speaking world." (Craig Blomberg, Denver Seminary)
"Tyndale commentaries are always useful, not least because they focus so clearly on the text of Scripture, and do not fall into the trap of paying too much attention to other commentaries and not enough to the scriptural text they are intended to expound and explain. So they retain their usefulness for preachers, Bible study leaders and for all readers of the Bible." (Peter Adam, principal, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia)
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About the Author
The works of Derek Kidner (MA, Christ's College, Cambridge) are full of the marks of both professor and pastor with his evenhanded scholarship as well as his devotional insight. These qualities have made his commentaries in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series and The Bible Speaks Today series some of the most beloved and popular of recent decades. Kidner had a long career in both the church and the academy in England. He studied at Cambridge University and then served in the ministry for several years before becoming a senior tutor at Oak Hill Theological College. Kidner began his writing career while serving as warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge from 1964 to 1978, publishing his ninth and final book, The Message of Jeremiah, in 1987.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kidner begins his commentary in Part One with a brief study of the Book of Proverbs and the Wisdom of Israel. Wisdom literature was important to Israel (and should be important to us) because “there are details of character small enough to escape the mesh of law and the broadsides of the prophets, and yet [are] decisive in personal dealings” (13). Second comes Wisdom in the Ancient World. The authors of Proverbs likely used both original and material from their Mesopotamian neighbors. Yet the book of Proverbs is set within the context of YHWH who reveals himself to his people. Kidner finishes Part One with a survey of the structure, authorship, date, and text of Proverbs.
In Part Two, Kidner shows us a glimmer of Israel’s jewels in a series of 8 subject-studies, reoccurring themes in Proverbs:
God and Man
Life and Death
In the next section Kidner divides Proverbs into 7 main sections. He looks at the meaning and usage of words, where they are found throughout Proverbs and other OT books, and how a word or phrase might be better translated.
The volume ends with a short concordance 10 pages in length “that helps locate lost sayings (in territory notoriously hard to search) and encourages further subject studies” (9).
Kidner is both clever and concise with his words. Rather than getting a 1,000 page commentary of dense syntactical, grammatical, textual details, one gets a brief comment on almost every verse of Proverbs. This makes the commentary easy to use for devotional reading, as each chapter on Proverbs doesn’t require you to read 30+ pages. Instead, most of Kidner’s chapters run about 5 pages each.
The difficult part about this book is the lack of both the text's meaning and its application. While I’m sure Kidner would know how to apply the truths of Proverbs, the application is often left on the cutting room floor. To give but one example, on Proverbs 18.8 (“Tidbits of Gossip”) Kidner comments,
Delicious morsels (RSV) is a more likely translation than AV’s wounds; modern scholars agree in deriving it from a verb ‘to swallow greedily’. See subject-study: Words 1 (1), p. 43. The proverb is exactly repeated in 26:22 (121).
When it comes to actual devotional use, this commentary is hit and miss. Sometimes it works, and others times it isn’t. I would like to have seen more of Kidner’s wordsmithing in this commentary, particularly how Christ is the Wisdom of God and how Christian are to use this godly wisdom in their life.
I wouldn’t recommend this as your first Proverbs commentary. For the same price you could get Duane Garrett’s NAC volume Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs or Eric Lane’s Proverbs volume in the Focus on the Bible series. Kidner will prove helpful on the subject-studies, the outline of Proverbs, and some critical-textual matters. If you want to go even deeper, head over to Longman and Waltke.
(Special thanks to IVP Academic for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book).