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Job (Teach the Text Commentary Series) Hardcover – July 15, 2013
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From the Back Cover
Focused Biblical Scholarship to Teach the Text Effectively
The Teach the Text Commentary Series gives pastors the best of biblical scholarship and presents the information needed to move seamlessly from the meaning of the text to its effective communication. By keeping the discussion in each carefully selected preaching unit to six pages of focused commentary, the volumes allow pastors to quickly grasp the most important information. Each unit of the commentary includes the big idea and key themes of the passage; sections dedicated to understanding, teaching, and illustrating the text; and full-color illustrations, maps, and photos.
The Book of Job presents a challenge to the modern preacher and teacher, as it communicates its message in a way that is unfamiliar to most contemporary believers. But the issues it addresses--suffering, our response to it, and how God works in the world--are nevertheless relevant to the church in our day. Job teaches the surpassing sovereignty, freedom, and wisdom of God and emphasizes that even though the answers to our questions may remain hidden from us, God can be trusted. In this commentary, Daniel J. Estes provides carefully organized guidance for interpreting, teaching, and illustrating the important truths found in Job.
"Few commentaries help the reader move beyond study to thoughtful application, and fewer still move beyond application to teaching. That's why I am thrilled with the Teach the Text Commentary Series from Baker. I highly recommend it."--George H. Guthrie, Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible, Union University, Jackson, TN
"Teach the Text is the kind of commentary I have wanted for a long time. It deals with the kinds of questions that busy pastors have to ask and answer in order to preach the Scriptures every week."--Haddon Robinson, Harold John Ockenga Professor of Preaching, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"Pastors, communicators, and fellow Bible teachers, shove some books over and make room on your shelves. The Teach the Text Commentary Series was specifically envisioned with us in the lens. Here is the best of biblical scholarship made accessible, applicable, and relevant to life right here on the hot pavement where we need it most."--Beth Moore, author and teacher
Daniel J. Estes (PhD, University of Cambridge) is distinguished professor of Bible at Cedarville University and the author of the commentary on Song of Songs in the Apollos Old Testament Commentary series, Hear, My Son: Teaching and Learning in Proverbs 1-9, and the Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms.
About the Author
Daniel J. Estes (PhD, University of Cambridge) is distinguished professor of Bible at Cedarville University and the author of Hear, My Son: Teaching and Learning in Proverbs 1-9.
SERIES GENERAL EDITORS
Mark L. Strauss (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary San Diego. He is the author or editor of many books and articles, including How to Read the Bible in Changing Times and Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels.
John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including A Survey of the Old Testament, Old Testament Today, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament.
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Top Customer Reviews
Here he offers readers fine commentary on the book of Job. After a brief introduction (where he favors agnosticism toward the historicity of Job), Estes treats each chapter of Job in a chapter of the commentary. Within each chapter, the following format is followed:
The Big Idea (stated in a single sentence)
Key Themes (bullet pointed in an sidebar)
Understanding the Text (the commentary proper)
Teaching the Text (suggestive directions for a focal point in a lesson)
Illustrating the Text (helpful illustrations from literature, history, movies, etc.)
Because of the format of the “Understanding the Text” section, Estes does not necessarily comment verse by verse. Any many cases, his total comments in the verse by verse section are about as extensive as ESV Study Bible notes (which isn’t a knock on Estes, just a way of giving you a gauge). Some of this is because the “Understanding the Text” section is really composed of 4 parts:
Text in Context (usually a couple of paragraphs)
Historical and Cultural Background (another paragraph or two, usually very insightful)
Interpretive Insights (the actual verse by verse comments)
Theological Insights (varies in length depending on the chapter, but doesn’t shy away from issues)
Given that there are a total of 8 elements Estes address in each chapter, and that the book is under 300 pages in total, you have an idea how this commentary goes chapter to chapter. Not every verse is exegeted in detail, but that isn’t the aim of the commentary. Rather, the aim is to prepare you to teach the text (hence the series title). To do that, the framework seems to be given almost equal weight to the exposition. Because of that, this is probably not a stand-alone resource, but it might be for an average Sunday School teacher (especially if used in tandem with an ESV Study Bible).
I could see this commentary being profitably put to use in tandem with a more in-depth exegetical volume that maybe isn’t quite as concerned with communicating the message and theology of Job like Estes’ volume is. For many people, the more extended exegesis and background details of John Walton’s NIVAC volume might be a good supplement. Others might prefer Tremper Longman III’s installment in BCOTWP or Hartley’s in (NICOT). While a supplement isn’t necessary per se, for anything more than an overview of each chapter, Estes’ volume doesn’t have enough meat. If that is all you’re after, this book has the framework and the content for that.
In the end, I think that is what this series is aiming for. That is, the goal is to provide a commentary that gives a thorough framework for teachers of the word to teach that particular book. In my case at least, I would be doing a survey on Job in my Old Testament class, so I have plenty to work with in Estes’ volume. He covers the key background imagery as well as the theological takeaways of the book. That is basically what I’ll cover in the my class. If I were specifically teaching Job, and I was doing so at the university or seminary level, I’d probably still use Estes, but in conversation with the other volumes I mentioned above. Regardless of whether you are using other conversation partners, if you plan on teaching the text of Job, you’ll probably want to consult, if not just go ahead and add Estes to your library.
[I was given a review copy of this book by the publisher]
1) Big Idea
2) Key Themes
3) Understanding the Text
4) Teaching the Text
5) Illustrating the Text
The Introduction comprises very clear and concise information about the book of Job; like the authorship, date, setting, structure, outline, the literature at that time, purpose, theme, and some guidance with regards to teaching and preaching from the book of Job. This introduction is a must-read in order for readers to get a grasp of the commentary's intent from the start. Readers can benefit from the outline of the biblical book. I have modified them slightly as follows:
Prologues (Job 1-2);
Dialogues I (Job 3-14);
Dialogues II (Job 15-21);
Dialogues III (Job 22-27);
Interlude (Job 28);
Three Monologues (Job 29-41);
Epilogue (Job 42).
Following the brief introduction, Daniel Estes launches into a chapter by chapter commentary, adhering closely to the five-fold structure set out. Each chapter begins with a title that states the overall big idea of the chapter. I find it helpful as it keeps my mind focused on the big idea. That said, it may in some way limit the reader's openness to the possibility of other big ideas. To be fair, this problem is not just limited to this but to all other commentaries as well. The key is to be understand this commentary is just one way to understand. We can always consider the interpretive insights as an invitation to ponder upon rather than a dogma to be insisted on.
The key themes blue block in every chapter is every teacher's favourite. It summarizes in a nutshell what that chapter is about. Using these themes, we can read the text with the idea in mind. This is helpful because Job can be a very difficult book to study, and can also be misunderstood by the casual reader. For example, much of the dialogues coming from the three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and to some extent Job and Elihu, constitute bad advice. The three friends begins well in silence, but loses their way as they allow their own interpretations of what is happening to Job take precedence over God's purposes. In some way, these themes are interpretations of many of these interpretations.
The section on understanding the text is the main body of the entire book. Going chapter by chapter, verse by verse, it is a communicator's paradise. I read the comments back to myself and I can imagine it being verbalized over the pulpit. It is very listenable. The use of Hebrew words are inserted to expand the meaning of the text and also intentionally kept to the minimal to avoid making the book overly technical. At the same time, the additional information about the contexts of the text gives readers a lot of ideas to chew on. For example, there are explanatory columns on theodicy to give readers an appreciation of this area of interpretation; backgrounds on Eliphaz's insistence on disciplines; insights on places in Job's world to give readers some idea of what he is talking about; and many more. The theological insights are critical as they help bring together the key themes and ideas within the context of the Bible. Sometimes, when students study book by book, or chapter by chapter, one can get lost in the details and mistake the forest for the trees. The theological insights give us a bigger picture of God's story.
The part on teaching the text is not just for teachers but can help students at many levels. I find it most helpful to use this part and refer often to the preceding section. In fact, I feel that "understanding" and "teaching" the text can even be combined into one section for maximum impact. At times, breaking the chapters up is like separating the rice from the fish when eating sushi. That said, the effort to stay faithful to the sectioning is commendable as the author wants the book to work well for readers in general.
As a preacher, illustrating the text is one of the most enjoyable sections. In order to connect better with audiences, stories and anecdotes are often necessary, and Daniel Estes is very generous in his sharing. The examples are taken from authors like Philip Yancey; literature like Victor Hugo's Les Miserables; testimony by Elisabeth Elliot; films like "It's a Wonderful Life"; and many illustrations that the contemporary reader can appreciate.
In commentaries, one of the struggles is the debate between readability and textual accuracy. It is easy to say that we want everything to be understandable to readers, to be faithful to the text, and to be completely biblical in every way. Yet, decisions constantly need to be made with regards to reverence of the Word and relevance to the world. We can be so textually accurate to the point that it becomes gibberish to readers. At the same time, we can be so relevant to readers that the interpretations say things beyond the biblical emphases. This commentary attempts to do both and it is delightfully effective.
With this kind of commentary, there is no way anyone can be bored. There are lots of colour and pictures throughout the book. There are many creative insights that readers can be challenged to develop further. What I really appreciate is the overall readability of the commentary that makes it a valuable resource for teaching and for preaching. The bibliography is respectable but can be a little more extensive. I am not sure why the bibliography leaves out John Walton's very recent commentary. Still, I will give high marks for this commentary, especially from a pedagogical and communicator standpoint.
Rating: 5 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me free by Baker Books and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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