Open your Bible: New Testament commentary
Martin Manser (Ed.)
Creative 4 International, 1008 pages, £9.21 (Kindle)
Coupled with its Old Testament counterpart, this hefty volume aims to provide a light but comprehensive sweep of the Bible. From Matthew to Revelation, the New Testament is broken down into several hundred passages, each with its own single-page commentary.
‘Conservative, evangelical scholarship’ (p.9) is said to underpin the exposition and this is largely the case. The New Testament is divided among eight different contributors, each providing their commentaries on a selection of books.
Two prefatory essays are included, overviewing teaching in the Gospels and Acts and then, secondly, in the epistles and Revelation. Historical and cultural considerations are explored, providing background colour to the subsequent commentaries.
At five or six paragraphs in length, each commentary occupies a single page and is fairly brief and accessible. The stated aim is to provide ‘devotional warmth, sound exegesis and relevance to daily life’ (p.9).
The second of these considerations struck me as most prevalent. Indeed, the primary focus of each commentary seemed to be on circumstantial background or summarising content.
Many of the commentaries are concluded with short sections entitled ‘to ponder’ or ‘a challenge’, encouraging the reader to engage more fully with the text.
The theology is fairly sound and should not prove unpalatable to evangelical readers. Nonetheless, avoidance of clarity on more controversial issues is not completely absent and should be borne in mind by potential buyers.
The doctrine of election, for one, struck me as fudged in the name of ‘inscrutability’, in the commentary on Romans 8:29-30. The ten plagues of Egypt are also referred to as ‘natural phenomena’ in the commentary on Romans 9:17-20, which I also found disagreeable.
As with the first volume of this whole-Bible commentary, the target audience seems to be younger Christians. The unfortunate irony is that a degree of maturity in discernment is already required, if readers are to sift out some of the more liberal undertones occasionally appearing in this book.