Friday, 8 July 2011

Clinton E. Arnold on Ephesians (2)

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

• See here for the first post on Clinton Arnold on Ephesians

• See here for a review of the commentary by Nijay Gupta

Arnold introduces the ZECNT series, noting that its features were ‘refined over time by an editorial board who listened to pastors and teachers express what they wanted to see in a commentary series based on the Greek text’ (9).

The resulting format contains seven components:

1. Literary Context – how the passage functions in the broader literary context of the book.

2. Main Idea – a one- or two-sentence summary of the main idea of the book. [I think Arnold’s summary sentences are excellent, and certainly very helpful for understanding his overall perspective on a section. A few times I would have put the emphasis elsewhere, but I would trust Arnold over me.]

3. Translation and Graphical Layout – a presentation of the commentator’s own English translation of the Greek text in a graphical layout, showing the relationship between clauses. [This is enormously helpful, perhaps especially for those with little or no knowledge of the original language; but it will be interesting to see what happens when it comes to longer chunks of text in the gospels and Acts, for instance.]

4. Structure – on the flow of thought in the passage.

5. Exegetical Outline – a set of headings and sub-headings which show the overall flow of the passage. [This is likely to be handy for preachers and teachers looking for the natural divisions in the text.]

6. Explanation of the Text – the biggest section of all, examining the text verse by verse. [The Greek text and words are cited, but always with a translation into English, making this a user-friendly commentary for a wider range of readers.]

7. Theology in Application – some reflections on the theological message of the passage and suggestions on its significance for the church today. [Arnold makes great use of this, in my judgment, highlighting themes which arise from the text and offering suggestive comments for application which could be picked up by preachers and teachers in different contexts.]

In addition, throughout the commentary are occasional ‘In Depth’ sections, grayed-out areas of text looking at an interpretive issue in more detail (e.g., on Ephesians 4:7-16, there is a four-page section on ‘Psalm 68 as a Prayer That God Would Defeat His Enemies’).


Anonymous said...

I am choosing between Obriens commentary and this one by Arnold . Which do you prefer and why? Thanks in advance.

Antony said...

Hi Steve

Thanks for this.

That’s a tough choice, since I have used both and think both are excellent. As always, it depends what you’re looking for. O’Brien is probably able to devote more space to straight exegesis, given the nature of the Pillar series – although his commentaries are also always theologically rich. The newish series from Zondervan means readers of Arnold may get less discussion in that area, but more on issues of structure, background, theology, etc., and with more pointers for ‘application’, particularly helpful for preachers and BIble study group leaders.

For these reasons (and not least because of his earlier work on first-century Asia Minor), on balance, if I had to have one with me on a desert island, it would be Arnold.

My advice, if you’re able to do it, would be to sample both before buying.

Hope that helps, and thanks