Sunday, November 02, 2008

Colossians Commentary - Lessons Learned (Part 2)

I have just completed the first draft of my Colossians/Philemon commentary for the New Covenant Commentary Series and here are my final reflections on commentary writing (see earlier posts here):

1. I affirm my earlier post that continued commentary writing still has a place in scholarship. It is a good place to learn and to disseminate what you actually think about a given book of the Bible. The biggest problem is that you do not have something unique or ground breaking to say in every single verse. Still, commentaries need to be updated in light of on going research of the day and we need to continually ask how the text relates to the church of our own day.

2. I have no intention of writing a commentary on every book of the New Testament. I could revisit Colossians again ten years from now in light of planned archaeological excavations for a technical commentary like Hermeneia, ICC, or something similar. I might like to do another one on Galatians, Mark, or John; but I don't see myself trying to cover every single one. Kudos to Ben Witherington for doing it, but I'm not gonna even try.

3. I've learnt that one can read, cite, and interact with secondary literature ad infinitum. I think it's best to identify two major dialogue partners (for Colossians it was Dunn and O'Brien, if I was doing Galatians it would be Dunn and Martyn) and go to the rest as needed.

4. Finishing a commentary is alot like finishing a sermon series. It ocassions reflection on what you've learned, what you've changed your mind on, how to preach or efficiently, and how to live your Christian life in a new way.

1 comment:

simon said...

I agree with your comment on picking dialogue partners. I've a couple of Crossway Bible Guides (not exactly exacting commentaries but I did have to refer to every verse!) and I picked two big commentaries to interact with. For Galatians I went for Hays and Longenecker (though Dunn was a close third and Martyn was useful through essays rather than his AB tome). Look forward to your work on Colossians - just lamenting this morning the absence of good new work for ministers on that letter.