Wednesday, January 16, 2008

John Nolland on the Writing of Commentaries III

Insight #3: The best commentaries are 'timeless.' Commentaries that are methodologically narrow do not fit this category. is also true that the best of commentaries tend to transcend their age and setting. There is a cultural and historical specificity about any reading of biblical books. But since these are texts that engage with God and with profound dimensions of what it is to be human, those readings which have been most sensitive to what I am still prepared to think of as the timeless within the timely will continue to have a capacity to address people at other times and in other places. Methodologically I am nervous about the kind of up-to-dateness that is in danger of soon becoming an out-of-dateness, as scholarly fashions move on. I have been struck by the narrowness introduced into many works by the studious implementation of a method of inquiry, and also by the technical verbiage that especially the more recent methods often generate. Though this may seem contrary, I believe there is a robustness to eclecticism that is not present in even the most rigorous application of the more narrowly focused favoured methods of the moment. The best of commentaries will stand the test of time, though we might not be wise enough to recognize this quality in them when they are hot off the press. (306-307; italics mine)

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