A Baptist minister’s bookshelf is sacred. It bears the weight of centuries of thought from people of all different backgrounds and faith traditions. A Baptist minister often relies on the recommendations of others when deciding what books to add to his library. That’s why I’ve decided to do periodic book reviews of new titles I’ve added to my library from the standpoint of being a Baptist in the SBC.
Broadman and Holman, the publishing house of the SBC, recently released the first volume in a planned 40-volume commentary series called Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation. I was able to snag a review copy, and, as you might expect, it’s a solid resource for Baptist ministers.
Commentary on Hebrews
This debut commentary on Hebrews is authored by Thomas R. Schreiner, one of the general editors of the series and a current professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written numerous works, including a highly praised commentary on 1 and 2 Peter and Jude in the New American Commentary series, also published by B&H. He’s also written commentaries on Galatians and Romans, and he’s written a Pauline theology, a New Testament theology, and a theology of the whole Bible. Click here for a list of his books on Lifeway.com (I receive no incentives or financial rewards for referrals).
In our time, a commentary written by a professor at one of our seminaries and published by Broadman and Holman is almost assuredly a good commentary for Southern Baptists. The fact that it is the first volume in a 40-volume series means that the editors and publishers are starting with their best foot forward so as to make a good impression and win customers for the long haul. Thomas Schreiner is certainly the man for making a good impression. Ours is not a question of whether or not the commentary is good. That’s settled. Ours is a question of what sets this commentary apart from others.
First and foremost, this commentary series is focused on biblical theology, “the theology expressed by the respective writers of the various biblical books on their own terms and in their own historical contexts” (pg. ix, emphasis original). Schreiner, who has penned three major volumes on biblical theology, uses his expertise (and probably some of the wording in those volumes) to write some lengthy sections you probably won’t find in many other commentaries on the book of Hebrews. “Hebrews and the Story Line of the Bible,” almost certainly reworked from one of those earlier volumes, comes in at 9 pages. “Biblical and Theological Structures” traces out various themes through the book and comes in around 22 pages. Best by far are nine sections under the heading “Biblical and Theological Themes” that function more like an appendix to the book and about 65 pages long.
The rest of the commentary goes section by section, verse by verse, through the book of Hebrews itself. Each section begins by identifying the chapter(s) and verses in the unit, followed by an outline, the text of Scripture, a summary of the context, and verse by verse exposition. The section then ends with a bridge, which, when taken together with the context summary, gives a helpful “Cliff’s Notes” of the commentary.
The commentary does not get into the weeds like a technical commentary would, and I found Schreiner’s exposition similar in style to that of George H. Guthrie’s volume in the NIV Application Commentary series. I think I favor Guthrie more, in part because Schreiner does not shy away from citing Guthrie, William L. Lane, and other commentators to argue his points, but I think you’d be well served by either.
Thomas Schreiner’s volume on Hebrews is a welcome addition to any pastor’s library. If you’ve already got Guthrie’s or Lane’s commentaries on Hebrews, you could probably pass and save your money to fill in other gaps in your theological library. If you’re in need of a good volume on Hebrews, though, you won’t do wrong picking up this one.
If you have any questions about this commentary, or if you’d like to share your thoughts on your favorite commentary on Hebrews, there’s space in the comments for you.
Bonus: Click here for a link to an interview with Thomas Schreiner about the book and a PDF excerpt.