20 November 2008

Dëgjo Ligji i Përterirë 6:4 në hebraisht

"Dëgjo o Izrael: Jahweh është Perëndia ynë. Jahweh është një i vetëm"

16 November 2008

New Testament Books for Pastors and Teachers - IV


by Ralph Martin
published: 2001-04-18
© 2001 Theologybooks.com, Wipf and Stock.
In my volume on Mark in the Knox Preaching Guides series, edited by John H. Hayes, there is a list of commentaries I found most serviceable in preparing that booklet. High on the list are Hugh Anderson's work in NCB and William L. Lane in NICNT. Both are clear, level-headed, and up-to-date expositions of Mark's message as gospel with emphasis on the historical and theological interest. For more detailed study based on the Greek text, Charles E. B. Cranfield and Vincent Taylor may be recommended, with the former more adapted to easy reference. Both books are becoming dated, however, since both were written before the gains of redaction criticism could be utilized. For the ground-breaking redactional study, Willi Marxsen's Mark the Evangelist should be consulted.
In commentary series proper, Sherman E. Johnson (Harper-Black), A. E. J. Rawlinson (Westminster), and Dennis E. Nineham (Pelican) contain nothing that cannot be found in the books mentioned above, but of these three, Nineham has the acutest theological sense, and he writes in a limpid prose style-a trait not all commentators share! Eduard Schweizer's work translated from Das Neue Testament Deutsch (NTD) is full of insights and application, and it should be within the preacher's reach. I personally found Josef Schmid's volume from the Catholic Regensburg New Testament series, translated and published in Cork, Ireland, a most helpful treatment, and full of good things. It is the only volume in this German Catholic series available in English, and it would be a pity if we were denied more of the excellence of this sample.
Of slender dimension but useful for quick reference is Paul J. Achtemeier's volume in the Proclamation Commentaries series. Etienne Trocmé's The Formation of the Gospel According to Mark is written with Gallic verve and offers a novel view of the Gospel. For example, his treatment of Mark's purpose in a missionary context is bound to spark several sermons.
For a series of sermons on Mark as passion story there is the collection of essays The Passion in Mark, edited by Werner H. Kelber. However, preachers will probably get more immediate value from Arland J. Hultgren's Jesus and His Adversaries. Mark 13 poses its own problems, and George R. Beasley-Murray's A Commentary on Mark Thirteen has not yet been superseded, though there have been later erudite volumes on that chapter, mainly in German. Finally, there is my own Mark: Evangelist and Theologian, an attempt to survey recent study of Mark. The ongoing sequel of Markan research from 1972 to 1979 may be read in Sean P. Kealy's valuable and unusual book Mark's Gospel: A History of Its Interpretation, which offers synopses of leading writers in the field and their works, arranged chronologically from the patristic period to our own day. See too James M. Robinson's updated The Problem of History in Mark.
RECOMMENDATION: Anderson stands first for its overall usefulness, but Lane is a close rival.

There has been a flurry of scholarly activity centered on the Lukan writings since the 1950s, when W. C. van Unnik labeled Luke-Acts a "storm center of New Testament criticism." While much of this research and publication has been highly technical-and we may instance the debate focused on Hans Conzelmann's seminal The Theology of St. Luke (its original title, in German, was "The Middle of Time")-it should be recorded that the practical gains have been considerable and preaching resources have been enriched thereby. A good example is seen in Eduard Schweizer's popular lectures Luke: A Challenge to Present Theology, written as a parergon to his commentary on Luke in NTD, which is shortly to appear in the John Knox series of Schweizer's translated commentaries and will service the preacher's needs in the English-speaking world as NTD does on the European scene.
More erudite, yet eminently worth reading as sermon preparation, are Joseph A. Fitzmyer's Anchor Bible commentary (at present covering Luke 1-9), and I. Howard Marshall in NIGTC. The former is less demanding on the Greekless reader, and less taxing on the eyesight, than Marshall's closely packed pages, which in format are slightly self-defeating. A more thoughtful editorial pen would have helped in the earlier stages of this work, but there is no denying the mass of excellent material now available to aid the preacher and teacher who tries to understand Luke's Gospel.
Students of Greek will still need to refer to J. M. Creed (Macmillan) as to Alfred Plummer (ICC), both of which are dated in a double sense. They show their age as books written several decades ago, and they inevitably predate Conzelmann and the concerns raised specifically over Luke's work as an editor with a theological bent to his purpose. For orientation here we commend I. Howard Marshall's Luke: Historian and Theologian, as well as the essays in Interpreting the Gospels, edited by James Luther Mays, a most useful book for getting abreast of current study on all four Gospels, and one written with preachers and teachers in mind.
Serviceable commentaries, with much to offer in the field of exegesis, are those by A. Robert C. Leaney (Harper-Black) and E. Earle Ellis (NCB). In shorter compass are George B. Caird (Pelican) and Leon Morris (Tyndale). William Manson (Moffatt) is a slight disappointment to those who were helped by his insightful Jesus the Messiah; and J. Norval Geldenhuys (NICNT) could safely be passed over, except that his warm, devotional spirit exudes on every page, and this book will warm the heart if it fails to excite the imagination or stimulate the mind.
Mind-stretching can be left to the European interpreters of Luke; witness the collected essays in Studies in Luke-Acts, edited by Leander E. Keck and J. Louis Martyn, and more recently the survey of Robert Maddox, The Purpose of Luke-Acts, written at Munich and giving a richly comprehensive overview of all possible options currently expressed by German, French, British, and American scholars.
For detailed analytical treatment there is nothing to rival Heinz Schürmann's edition (as far as ch. 9) in the first volume in the Herder series. Smaller in size, but with theological sensitivity, is Walter Grundmann's work in the series aptly named Theologischer Handkommentar.
I personally found Bo Reicke's little book The Gospel of Luke rewarding. Though not a commentary in the strict sense, it held out several insights as sermon starters. And the same verdict holds for Helmut Flender, St. Luke: Theologian of Redemptive History, which, though not easy to read, is also rewarding. This brings us to a consideration of special studies on Luke's Gospel.
Raymond E. Brown's The Birth of the Messiah is virtually required reading in the pastor's study at the Advent season. Both Matthew's Nativity stories and Luke's early chapters are examined in close detail. J. Gresham Machen's The Virgin Birth of Christ is a useful polemical treatise in defense of the dogma, but exegetically not very profitable. John McHugh, in The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament, has a lot of suggestive-some might say speculative-material on Luke's infancy narratives, but I discovered a lot of preaching material here, to my pleasant surprise.
Three titles ought to be read for our overall education on current Lukan studies, since all of these books are written in such a polished and attractive way that they do no disservice to "the most beautiful book there is" (as Renan called Luke's Gospel). They are: John Drury, Tradition and Design in Luke's Gospel; Eric Franklin, Christ the Lord: A Study in the Purpose and Theology of Luke-Acts; and C. K. Barrett, Luke the Historian in Recent Study. We owe it to our pulpit ministry to make the acquaintance of these authors who are, each in his own way, able to write con amore about Luke and his works.
Luke's Gospel seems to me to stand high on many a preacher's list of favorite New Testament books as offering a rich and fertile seedplot for sermons. Time spent wrestling with Luke's purpose and his role as pastor-evangelist, in addition to his role as the author of a second volume in the New Testament library, is a wise investment (see also the section on the Acts of the Apostles).
RECOMMENDATION: Marshall (NIGTC) has the most to offer as a resource book, but it will be overtaken by the more readable Fitzmyer when the latter's addition to AB is complete.

10 November 2008

New Testament Books for Pastors and Teachers - III


by Ralph Martin
published: 2001-04-18
© 2001 Theologybooks.com, Wipf and Stock.
Individual Commentaries
This will obviously be the lengthiest chapter as we survey what are, in one person's judgment, the best titles to look for in the field of commentary writing on a book-by-book basis. There are two overriding considerations, namely (a) what are the books of a former generation that have had an enduring influence and are accessible in larger library collections or purchasable, from time to time, in used book shops; and (b) what books are available in the current marketplace and worth acquiring. The interests of pastors, preachers, and teachers have been kept uppermost, with an occasional glance in the direction of the scholar and the research student.
Students at the beginning of their academic and ministerial career often ask that someone provide them with a clear-cut recommendation of a single title as the "best buy," similar to the way reviewers of gramophone records mark a special recording as "outstanding." I have responded to this desire at the end of each section. Sometimes two or more commentaries are tied for first place, and I have so indicated.
After several decades of dearth when it was difficult to recommend a good full-scale commentary on Matthew's Gospel (in English, at least), we are faced with a number of choices. Robert H. Gundry's Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art, incorporating the techniques of midrashic comparison and redaction criticism, vies with Francis W. Beare's more traditionally conceived commentary. Beare's volume carries the lighter touch and is easier to use as a tool, but some of his historical judgments will provoke disagreement. Gundry's book also has raised a debate and will be valued more for its interest in Matthew's purpose than as an aid to preachers. David Hill's slightly older and more compact study (NCB) is a commentary in the traditional sense and full of exegetical insight; it stands out as serviceable and less expensive. If Hill's book is used alongside some monographs on Matthew's role as theologian and church teacher (a term made familiar by Krister Stendahl's The School of St. Matthew, 1954), the combination will be all the preacher needs.
Among monographs on Matthew's role as theologian and church teacher I would place Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew, by Gunther Bornkamm, Gerhard Barth, and Heinz J. Held; this volume is a basic tool to show the gains of redaction criticism for the preacher. Another useful volume is The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount, by W. D. Davies, which needs to be complemented now by Robert A. Guelich's excellent recent study The Sermon on the Mount, on Matthew 5-7. And see also The Theme of Jewish Persecution of Christians in the Gospel According to St. Matthew, by Douglas R. A. Hare. Last (but not least by any means) is a most helpful exposition of recent work on Matthew's Christology by Jack D. Kingsbury titled Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom. This brings up to date the information in Edward P. Blair's fine Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, which unfortunately never found a British publisher.
An older work (on the Greek text) by A. H. McNeile still has value but is severely dated. For a penetrating study of Matthew's Gospel pericope by pericope, there is still nothing to rival Pierre Bonnard in the French CNT series, which ought to have been translated into English. William F. Albright and C. S. Mann (AB) join to produce a serviceable, if not too exciting, effort, with a good introduction to the Gospel. There are helpful exegetical aids in Floyd V. Filson (Harper-Black), J. C. Fenton (Pelican), and J. P. Meier. Eduard Schweizer's succinct commentary is a translation of his contribution to Das Neue Testament Deutsch (NTD), and when used in conjunction with Hill will be found to complement that volume nicely. Both books fulfill the promise of the series of which they form a part: they are basically exegetical tools, which every preacher will need to keep within arm's length in the study.
Preachers who turn to Matthew's Gospel for a text will be less concerned with studies about Matthew's literary usage (seen in M. D. Goulder's pioneering work and now in Gundry's book, mentioned above) than with the evangelist's role as church leader and teacher. Here redaction criticism can be of real assistance, as noted above, but T. W. Manson's The Sayings of Jesus should not be ignored, since it provides a virtual commentary on Jesus' teaching in this Gospel as understood in the pre-Bornkamm era.
RECOMMENDATION: Either Hill or Schweizer.