Wednesday 29 June 2011

Clinton E. Arnold on Ephesians (1)

Clinton E. Arnold, Ephesians, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 538pp., ISBN 9780310243731.

In recent years, Zondervan have started publishing a new commentary series – the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – which I anticipate becoming a significant and useful resource – especially for students and preachers/teachers of Scripture. Just four volumes are out so far – on James by Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell, on Galatians by Thomas R. Schreiner, on Matthew by Grant R. Osborne, and this one on Ephesians by Clinton E. Arnold, who also serves as the General Editor of the series. A further volume – on Luke by David Garland – is due out later this year.

I’ve used Schreiner on Galatians for a few small writing projects, but I’ve read more of this one on Ephesians by Clinton Arnold for my contributions to a recent preaching series at my home church and for producing discussion starters for a house group.

During my Masters course in 1990-1991, we spent half an academic year in a New Testament exegesis module working our way through Ephesians. At that stage, the published version of Clinton Arnold’s PhD thesis was not long out – Ephesians: Power and Magic: The Concept of Power in Ephesians in Light of Its Historical Setting, SNTSMS 63 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989) – and it was hard not to be persuaded by his central thesis of the significance of the likely cultural setting of first-century Ephesus and western Asia Minor for understanding the major theme in Ephesians of the power of God over all principalities and powers. Even in his thesis, Arnold was careful to note it wasn’t the only theme, but (for us students, at least) it seemed to illuminate passage after passage.

So, it’s nice to come back to Arnold on Ephesians in this mode. And it’s been a rich experience. From my perspective, the commentary is shot through with a warm devotion, in the very best sense – for people, for the text of Scripture, and for the God who speaks to us through it.

In a few subsequent posts, I’ll say more about the format of the ZECNT series and some more about Arnold’s position on introductory matters. Meanwhile, if you’re doing any work on Ephesians, this one comes with my hearty recommendation.

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