♪ Movement of Jah People ♫: a book review

In general, commentary series are uneven in quality. A few stand-out volumes, maybe a couple disappointments but most volumes in any given series will be. . .okay. So far, the Kregel Exegetical Library has defied my expectations. This is the fourth volume I have had the privilege to review. (I’ve read the first two volumes of Allen Ross’s Psalms Commentary, and Robert Chisholm’s Judges & Ruth. Duane Garrett’s treatment of Exodus stands up to the quality of any of these excellent volumes. If this is a sign of what is to come, then Kregel’s Exegetical Library will becomes a go-to series for pastors and critically engaged confessional scholars.

Garrett’s previous publications include A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, several intermediate and critical commentaries and a monograph on the source and authorship of Genesis. He also co-edited the NIV Archeological Study Bible. In A Commentary on ExodusGarrett brings knowledge of Egyptians history, geography and culture, helpful insights to bear on his interpretation. He provides a fresh and helpful translation which is sensitive to Hebrew poetics. After a translation (with notes) and commentary, Garrett has a ‘theological summary of key points ‘ for each passage. The level of detail here in translation and comments combined with Garrett’s theological insights makes this a useful commentary for the preaching pastor and student.

Garrett knows the importance of Exodus for biblical theology. Exodus is the theological center of the Old Testament. Not only does it have the exemplar episode of God’s deliverance in the Old Testament (the Exodus from Egypt), the book of the Covenant in Exodus 20-24 is central for understanding Deuteronomy, the history, prophets and writings of the Old Testament (138). Also, while Genesis tells the tale of individual patriarchs, Exodus tells the story of a people (137). Garrett does a great job of unfolding Exodus’s theological significance, especially in how it relates to the Wilderness wanderings of Israel.

Garrett’s introduction is highly technical and delves into Epyptian history and chronology, relevant geography, archaeology and language. He unfolds some of the issues in dating the Exodus and the location of the parting of Yam Sumph (the ‘Red Sea’ in many English translations). General readers will find this introduction detailed and perhaps too technical, but Garrett’s commentary itself is fairly accessible.

I used this commentary while preparing a sermon from Exodus. In preparation, I translated several chapters of Exodus myself before turning to Garrett’s translation and notes. I found his translation helpful and insightful. Garrett’s exegesis was also more detailed than most other commentaries I used. I found his conclusions judicious and now consider this my favorite Exodus commentary. There are only a couple of places where I felt like Garrett didn’t answer questions that arise from the text. I give this an enthusiastic five stars: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Notice of material connection, I received this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for my honest review.

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