Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tom Schreiner on Hebrews

Tom Schreiner
With the proliferation of commentaries and their series at an all-time high, it is becoming more important for publishers to have a distinctive approach when it comes to their production.

Broadman & Holman is entering into the crowded field of the commentary genre with such an approach called the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation (BTCP). The series mission statement in part reads:

...explores the theology of the Bible in considerable depth, spanning both Testaments. Authors come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, though all affirm the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. United in their high view of Scripture, and in their belief in the underlying unity of Scripture, which is ultimately grounded in the unity of God himself, each author explores the contribution of a given book or group of books to the theology of Scripture as a whole. While conceived as stand-alone volumes, each volume thus also makes a contribution to the larger whole. All volumes provide a discussion of introductory matters, including the historical setting and the literary structure of a given book of Scripture. Also included is an exegetical treatment of all the relevant passages in succinct commentary-style format. The biblical theology approach of the series will also inform and play a role in the commentary proper. The commentator permits a discussion between the commentary proper and the biblical theology that it reflects by a series of cross-references.The major contribution of each volume, however, is a thorough discussion of the most important themes of the biblical book in relation to the canon as a whole. This format allows each contributor to ground Biblical Theology, as is proper, in an appropriate appraisal of the relevant historical and literary features of a particular book in Scripture while at the same time focusing on its major theological contribution to the entire Christian canon in the context of the larger salvation-historical metanarrative of Scripture. Within this overall format, there will be room for each individual contributor to explore the major themes of his or her particular corpus in the way he or she sees most appropriate for the material under consideration.This format, in itself, would already be a valuable contribution to Biblical Theology. But there are other series that try to accomplish a survey of the Bible’s theology as well. What distinguishes the present series is its orientation toward Christian proclamation. This is the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation commentary series! As a result, the ultimate purpose of this set of volumes is not exclusively, or even primarily, academic. Rather, we seek to relate Biblical Theology to our own lives and to the life of the church. Our desire is to equip those in Christian ministry who are called by God to preach and teach the precious truths of Scripture to their congregations, both in North America and in a global context.

For their inaugural volume,  the BTCP turns to the capable hands of Tom Schreiner,James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology; Associate Dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Known for his scholarship on Paul, and in particular his commentaries on Romans and Galatians, Schreiner dives into the deep theological waters of Hebrews to kickstart the series. Schreiner comments:

The words of Jesus on the cross, ‘it is finished’ (John 19:30) capture the theology of Hebrews.My aim in this commentary is to focus on the biblical theology of the letter. The emphasis on biblical theology shows up especially in the introduction and conclusion where theological structures and themes are considered. In the introduction I will examine four different structures that are woven into the entire letter: 1) promise/fulfillment; 2) eschatology; 3) typology; and 4) spatial orientation (which can also be described as the relationship between heaven and earth in the letter). The commentary will conclude, after presenting an exegesis of each chapter, with a discussion of some major theological themes in Hebrews. 
Most modern commentaries consist of significant introductions and then conduct an intensive exegesis of the text, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. By way of contrast, the introduction and the commentary are relatively brief and non-technical. With the proliferation of commentaries today, a new commentary should have a distinctive approach. We now have many excellent commentaries on Hebrews which examine the letter in some detail. Many of these commentaries provide a useful function in that they draw on other parallels from both Jewish and Hellenistic literature to illuminate Hebrews. The advantage of such an approach is that the reader is plunged into the cultural world of the author. On the other hand, the careful sifting of various traditions may cause the reader to lose track of the argument of the letter. At the same time, the theology of the author may be muted, not because it isn’t recognized but because it may be difficult to follow in the welter of information given to readers. I hope a commentary that probes the theology of Hebrews will prove to be helpful. I have been helped by many scholars in preparing this commentary, especially those who have written in depth commentaries and those who have written monographs on the letter. No one writes from an objective standpoint, and hence I should state up front that I write as an evangelical Christian who believes that the scriptures are the living and authoritative word of God.
The commentary will be released in February, retail at $39.99, and weigh in at a hefty 560 pp. Meanwhile, one can read an excerpt here .

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very excited about this series, and anxious particularly to see this commentary on Hebrews by Tom Schreiner! Thanks!