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First and Second Peter: An Oral and Performance Commentary

Published: Oct 2023
£23.00
David Seal’s reading of 1 and 2 Peter in this commentary, in addition to explaining the text as written, also highlights the stylistics of oral literature employed by the author. The first-century Mediterranean world was a blend of an oral and a scribal culture; many commentaries overlook the oral nature of the New Testament letters. In oral societies, most people experienced written texts by hearing them read aloud. These two letters would have been experienced primarily through the listener’s ears rather than by reading with their eyes. 1 Peter encourages its recipients, in their present sufferings, by reminding them of their future inheritance. One oral stylistic that Peter uses to highlight this reward and make a memorable impression on his audience is through both the cadence and the alliteration of the description of their inheritance. These oral features are captured in the English translation where Peter describes the nature of the reward as ‘untouched by the ravages death, unstained by evil, and unhindered by the passing of time’. When spoken, these oral features, help to underscore the value and durability of the Christian’s future reward. Peter’s knowledge that the church was experiencing challenges from false teachers is one reason he writes 2 Peter. To facilitate a negative view of these teachers, Peter compares their behavior to that of pigs and dogs. Manipulation of emotions was also a characteristic of oral performance. Portraying the teachers in an emotionally disturbing manner may have helped motivate the church to remove the false teachers from their community.Some of the other oral stylistics discussed in this commentary include the author’s manners of expression in terms of word choices, sentence patterns, sound patterns, and gestures that may have accompanied the recitation. By highlighting the patterns and poetic delivery of Peter’s letters, which may be missed by modern readers, this commentary seeks to foster a deeper and clearer understanding of 1 and 2 Peter.
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First and Second Peter: An Oral and Performance Commentary

£23.00
David Seal’s reading of 1 and 2 Peter in this commentary, in addition to explaining the text as written, also highlights the stylistics of oral literature employed by the author. The first-century Mediterranean world was a blend of an oral and a scribal culture; many commentaries overlook the oral nature of the New Testament letters. In oral societies, most people experienced written texts by hearing them read aloud. These two letters would have been experienced primarily through the listener’s ears rather than by reading with their eyes. 1 Peter encourages its recipients, in their present sufferings, by reminding them of their future inheritance. One oral stylistic that Peter uses to highlight this reward and make a memorable impression on his audience is through both the cadence and the alliteration of the description of their inheritance. These oral features are captured in the English translation where Peter describes the nature of the reward as ‘untouched by the ravages death, unstained by evil, and unhindered by the passing of time’. When spoken, these oral features, help to underscore the value and durability of the Christian’s future reward. Peter’s knowledge that the church was experiencing challenges from false teachers is one reason he writes 2 Peter. To facilitate a negative view of these teachers, Peter compares their behavior to that of pigs and dogs. Manipulation of emotions was also a characteristic of oral performance. Portraying the teachers in an emotionally disturbing manner may have helped motivate the church to remove the false teachers from their community.Some of the other oral stylistics discussed in this commentary include the author’s manners of expression in terms of word choices, sentence patterns, sound patterns, and gestures that may have accompanied the recitation. By highlighting the patterns and poetic delivery of Peter’s letters, which may be missed by modern readers, this commentary seeks to foster a deeper and clearer understanding of 1 and 2 Peter.
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Judges: Once Upon a Time in Israel

Published: Jun 2023
£60.00
Judges is the Bible’s end-of-the-frontier epic. It depicts the first generations of Israelite life in Canaan and portrays a set of memorable protagonists, the “judges,” who were wild enough to tame a wilderness, but too wild to persist into the next era of royal courts, central shrines, and political states. The core of Judges consists of a series of narratives about the outlaws, warlords and war-ladies, mercenaries, and jackleg and priests and prophets from ancient Ephraim whose exploits were recounted in a series of redacted documents that, to the chagrin of pious readers over the centuries, ended up in the Bible, of all places. There is Ehud, the left-handed assassin on a grim solo labyrinthine mission in and out of an enemy fortress. There is Deborah, the alpha female who, in one chapter, commands an army and, in another, is credited with uttering her eponymous song, which deserves to be counted among the world’s great war poetry. There is Jael, the man-slaughtering Bedouin woman who is handy with a hammer. There is Gideon, the insecure hero who leads, in one story, an outnumbered elite band of warriors to victory over an enemy force of uncountable proportions and, in another story, a clannish vendetta filled with torture, arson, and revenge killings. There is the tale of Abimelech which traces the rise and fall of a gangster. There is Jephthah, the outcast summoned to rescue his tribe when they need his desperado skill set, but whose rash vow has fatal consequences for his daughter. Finally, there is Samson, one of folk literature’s most memorable characterizations, a walking, talking incarnation of unshaved, unbalanced hyper-masculinity. This reading of the tales of Judges as a set of adventure stories from the early centuries of alphabetic literacy requires that we dig through mounds of didactic, theological, moralistic, messianic, and nationalistic landfill in order to reclaim the full glory—and horror—of their dark violence and eroticism, as well as to marvel at the coarse folk poetry in the tales’ narration and dialogue.
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Judges: Once Upon a Time in Israel

£60.00
Judges is the Bible’s end-of-the-frontier epic. It depicts the first generations of Israelite life in Canaan and portrays a set of memorable protagonists, the “judges,” who were wild enough to tame a wilderness, but too wild to persist into the next era of royal courts, central shrines, and political states. The core of Judges consists of a series of narratives about the outlaws, warlords and war-ladies, mercenaries, and jackleg and priests and prophets from ancient Ephraim whose exploits were recounted in a series of redacted documents that, to the chagrin of pious readers over the centuries, ended up in the Bible, of all places. There is Ehud, the left-handed assassin on a grim solo labyrinthine mission in and out of an enemy fortress. There is Deborah, the alpha female who, in one chapter, commands an army and, in another, is credited with uttering her eponymous song, which deserves to be counted among the world’s great war poetry. There is Jael, the man-slaughtering Bedouin woman who is handy with a hammer. There is Gideon, the insecure hero who leads, in one story, an outnumbered elite band of warriors to victory over an enemy force of uncountable proportions and, in another story, a clannish vendetta filled with torture, arson, and revenge killings. There is the tale of Abimelech which traces the rise and fall of a gangster. There is Jephthah, the outcast summoned to rescue his tribe when they need his desperado skill set, but whose rash vow has fatal consequences for his daughter. Finally, there is Samson, one of folk literature’s most memorable characterizations, a walking, talking incarnation of unshaved, unbalanced hyper-masculinity. This reading of the tales of Judges as a set of adventure stories from the early centuries of alphabetic literacy requires that we dig through mounds of didactic, theological, moralistic, messianic, and nationalistic landfill in order to reclaim the full glory—and horror—of their dark violence and eroticism, as well as to marvel at the coarse folk poetry in the tales’ narration and dialogue.
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Nahum, Habakkuk and Malachi

Published: May 2023
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Nahum, ironically named ‘the compassionate one’, Habakkuk who laments God’s failure to answer his questions about justice and violence, and the eponymous Malachi are the three characters whose record is the focus of this reading. The commentary offers a close reading of the Hebrew text of each book along with its rhetorical features. The three books are read from within their several ancient contexts, literary, cultural and theological. Only Habakkuk is specifically identified as a ‘prophet’, while Nahum’s and Malachi’s editors studiously avoid the term, raising a question about why these three books have been honoured with a place in the Scroll of the Twelve rather than somewhere else. Each book is titled a Massa’ by its editor, identifying them as examples of an emerging literary trope that combines both prophetic and wisdom elements in a didactic purpose. Nahum is identified not as a prophet but as a Visionary. He saw the dire situation of his people and expressed his longing for God’s intervention. The God of whom he spoke was one ‘jealous, and avenging’, one he longed would act against the overwhelming power of the Assyrians that threatened his people. Habakkuk, though identified as a prophet, shows no evidence of any prophetic activity. He laments the failure of justice and consequent violence as witnessed (1.2-4). The Lament-form used has been torn in two by the editor for the purpose of inserting a Dialogue with God (1.5-2.20), a Dialogue that fails completely to answer Habakkuk’s ‘Why?’ questions in 1.1-2. The concluding portion of the Lament (3.2-19) witnesses to Habakkuk’s continued trust in his God despite the divine failure to resolve his questions. The eponymous ‘Malachi’ is identified as a Messenger, never as a prophet, as the book reports six different and independent messages covering issues that arose during an extended period in early postexilic Judaean life. Using a frame of six Question-Response forms that feature rhetorical questions, his audiences deny the validity of each negative charge against them. Graham Ogden has been a United Bible Societies’ Translation Consultant. He lives in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
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Nahum, Habakkuk and Malachi

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Nahum, ironically named ‘the compassionate one’, Habakkuk who laments God’s failure to answer his questions about justice and violence, and the eponymous Malachi are the three characters whose record is the focus of this reading. The commentary offers a close reading of the Hebrew text of each book along with its rhetorical features. The three books are read from within their several ancient contexts, literary, cultural and theological. Only Habakkuk is specifically identified as a ‘prophet’, while Nahum’s and Malachi’s editors studiously avoid the term, raising a question about why these three books have been honoured with a place in the Scroll of the Twelve rather than somewhere else. Each book is titled a Massa’ by its editor, identifying them as examples of an emerging literary trope that combines both prophetic and wisdom elements in a didactic purpose. Nahum is identified not as a prophet but as a Visionary. He saw the dire situation of his people and expressed his longing for God’s intervention. The God of whom he spoke was one ‘jealous, and avenging’, one he longed would act against the overwhelming power of the Assyrians that threatened his people. Habakkuk, though identified as a prophet, shows no evidence of any prophetic activity. He laments the failure of justice and consequent violence as witnessed (1.2-4). The Lament-form used has been torn in two by the editor for the purpose of inserting a Dialogue with God (1.5-2.20), a Dialogue that fails completely to answer Habakkuk’s ‘Why?’ questions in 1.1-2. The concluding portion of the Lament (3.2-19) witnesses to Habakkuk’s continued trust in his God despite the divine failure to resolve his questions. The eponymous ‘Malachi’ is identified as a Messenger, never as a prophet, as the book reports six different and independent messages covering issues that arose during an extended period in early postexilic Judaean life. Using a frame of six Question-Response forms that feature rhetorical questions, his audiences deny the validity of each negative charge against them. Graham Ogden has been a United Bible Societies’ Translation Consultant. He lives in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
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Obadiah and Haggai

Published: May 2022
£15.00£35.00
This new commentary questions whether Obadiah’s ‘vision’ is a prophetic book in the traditional sense, or a communal appeal to God to deal with Edom, similar to the cry in Psalm 137.7-9. Ogden suggests an editorial structure for the document built around the numerically central v. 11 that provides a focus for the appeal, one which seeks an immediate response from God. The conclusion is that this is fundamentally an appeal for God to act, rather than a promise of a future possibility. The Haggai commentary argues that the document is a collection of loosely related stories about the prophet Haggai’s encounters with Zerubbabel and Joshua, Judaean leaders who did not share the prophet’s sense of urgency about providing God with a refurbished house. Haggai is seen as a somewhat distant figure whose narrow worldview and theology saw him in conflict with the openness of the two community leaders. Haggai’s explanation for the crisis confronting the community showed little concern for its impact on the community, his calls to ‘Consider…’ pressuring them to conform to his plan for God’s ‘house’. Both commentaries take the view that from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 587 bce, and for many many years thereafter, there was a wide range of oral material in circulation that gave expression to Judaean pain and anger at what had happened, and to the deceitfulness of its ‘brother’ Edom’s participation in the demise of the southern kingdom. The editors of both Obadiah and Haggai drew upon that range of oral stories that existed in multiple forms to make their individual reports. Both documents have deep roots in Deuteronomic and nationalistic ideology. Ogden provides a reading that prioritizes the rhetorical elements in the Hebrew text while noting its historical, social and theological settings.
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Obadiah and Haggai

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This new commentary questions whether Obadiah’s ‘vision’ is a prophetic book in the traditional sense, or a communal appeal to God to deal with Edom, similar to the cry in Psalm 137.7-9. Ogden suggests an editorial structure for the document built around the numerically central v. 11 that provides a focus for the appeal, one which seeks an immediate response from God. The conclusion is that this is fundamentally an appeal for God to act, rather than a promise of a future possibility. The Haggai commentary argues that the document is a collection of loosely related stories about the prophet Haggai’s encounters with Zerubbabel and Joshua, Judaean leaders who did not share the prophet’s sense of urgency about providing God with a refurbished house. Haggai is seen as a somewhat distant figure whose narrow worldview and theology saw him in conflict with the openness of the two community leaders. Haggai’s explanation for the crisis confronting the community showed little concern for its impact on the community, his calls to ‘Consider…’ pressuring them to conform to his plan for God’s ‘house’. Both commentaries take the view that from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 587 bce, and for many many years thereafter, there was a wide range of oral material in circulation that gave expression to Judaean pain and anger at what had happened, and to the deceitfulness of its ‘brother’ Edom’s participation in the demise of the southern kingdom. The editors of both Obadiah and Haggai drew upon that range of oral stories that existed in multiple forms to make their individual reports. Both documents have deep roots in Deuteronomic and nationalistic ideology. Ogden provides a reading that prioritizes the rhetorical elements in the Hebrew text while noting its historical, social and theological settings.
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Obadiah

Published: July 2016
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Although Obadiah is the smallest book in the Hebrew Bible, its readers are confronted with a variety of challenges —linguistic, historical and hermeneutical. In the present volume the Book of Obadiah is approached from a variety of angles and reading strategies. These approaches sometimes concur, but often contradict one another. Bob Becking discusses various grammatical and linguistic problems of the Hebrew text in translating the book for a post-secular audience. Historical questions are the province of Nadav Na'aman. What were the 'events' with which the text seems to cope? Literary-historical issues concern Marvin Sweeney, who sees the book as the end-result of a complex redaction history in which the text was read in connection with and confrontation to the other Minor Prophets. Reading from particular positions is the theme of Gerrie Snyman, approaching the book in a South-African context, and asking, Who is vulnerable and who is not? Julia O'Brien takes a gender-specific approach asking, What does it mean that Edom is a brother who breaks the family code? Eric Ottenheijm traces the ways in which the Rabbis understood Obadiah. With insights from newly developing fields, Nicholas Werse discusses the violent character of judgment in the book in the light of semiotics, and Bradford Anderson brings to the fore the spatial rhetoric in the book. The authors of this volume offer their readings of the text in a non-exclusive way. No one claims to have found the one and only way to appreciate the message of the prophetic book. It is up to the readers of this volume —and of the Book of Obadiah —to decide how they will read the book in the changing circumstances of life.
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Obadiah

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Although Obadiah is the smallest book in the Hebrew Bible, its readers are confronted with a variety of challenges —linguistic, historical and hermeneutical. In the present volume the Book of Obadiah is approached from a variety of angles and reading strategies. These approaches sometimes concur, but often contradict one another. Bob Becking discusses various grammatical and linguistic problems of the Hebrew text in translating the book for a post-secular audience. Historical questions are the province of Nadav Na'aman. What were the 'events' with which the text seems to cope? Literary-historical issues concern Marvin Sweeney, who sees the book as the end-result of a complex redaction history in which the text was read in connection with and confrontation to the other Minor Prophets. Reading from particular positions is the theme of Gerrie Snyman, approaching the book in a South-African context, and asking, Who is vulnerable and who is not? Julia O'Brien takes a gender-specific approach asking, What does it mean that Edom is a brother who breaks the family code? Eric Ottenheijm traces the ways in which the Rabbis understood Obadiah. With insights from newly developing fields, Nicholas Werse discusses the violent character of judgment in the book in the light of semiotics, and Bradford Anderson brings to the fore the spatial rhetoric in the book. The authors of this volume offer their readings of the text in a non-exclusive way. No one claims to have found the one and only way to appreciate the message of the prophetic book. It is up to the readers of this volume —and of the Book of Obadiah —to decide how they will read the book in the changing circumstances of life.
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2 Timothy

Published: Jan 2016
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In the last 150 years 2 Timothy has been the object of much scholarly scrutiny, especially over the questions of its authorship and the historical situation it presupposes. Though a few scholars today accept Pauline authorship, most have supported the view that 2 Timothy is pseudonymous, written sometime after the death of Paul. In this commentary, Smith straddles the fine line between Pauline authorship and pseudonymity, proposing that Paul is the author but that Luke is a significant contributing amanuensis. The most significant difference between this commentary and others is Smith's rejection of the common supposition that 2 Timothy is Paul's Farewell Speech or Last Testament. On the basis of his earlier work, Timothy's Task, Paul's Prospect, Smith understands 2 Timothy as a paraenetic letter written to Timothy encouraging him in his Ephesian ministry and asking him to join Paul in Rome. Paul's perspective in this letter is thus not one of resignation to death, nor does it express Paul's sense of passing on the baton to his younger colleague; rather it envisages his expectation of release from prison and his hope of new opportunities for ministry with Timothy, Luke and Mark. Smith understands the problem of false teaching in Ephesus to be a real problem that Timothy is facing and not a fictional situation of a subsequent time. Smith carefully elucidates the difficult situation in the church at Ephesus and its effect on Timothy, together with Paul's kindly and thoughtful admonition given as a father to a son.
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2 Timothy

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In the last 150 years 2 Timothy has been the object of much scholarly scrutiny, especially over the questions of its authorship and the historical situation it presupposes. Though a few scholars today accept Pauline authorship, most have supported the view that 2 Timothy is pseudonymous, written sometime after the death of Paul. In this commentary, Smith straddles the fine line between Pauline authorship and pseudonymity, proposing that Paul is the author but that Luke is a significant contributing amanuensis. The most significant difference between this commentary and others is Smith's rejection of the common supposition that 2 Timothy is Paul's Farewell Speech or Last Testament. On the basis of his earlier work, Timothy's Task, Paul's Prospect, Smith understands 2 Timothy as a paraenetic letter written to Timothy encouraging him in his Ephesian ministry and asking him to join Paul in Rome. Paul's perspective in this letter is thus not one of resignation to death, nor does it express Paul's sense of passing on the baton to his younger colleague; rather it envisages his expectation of release from prison and his hope of new opportunities for ministry with Timothy, Luke and Mark. Smith understands the problem of false teaching in Ephesus to be a real problem that Timothy is facing and not a fictional situation of a subsequent time. Smith carefully elucidates the difficult situation in the church at Ephesus and its effect on Timothy, together with Paul's kindly and thoughtful admonition given as a father to a son.
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Proverbs

Published: Jan 2015
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In previous commentaries on Proverbs, little is said about any literary and thematic unity in the book. This commentary, by contrast, reads Proverbs not as a collection of disjointed aphorisms, but as a book of symmetrically arranged wisdom-teaching where topics, forms of expression and rhetoric are constantly hearkening back to what has preceded or heralding what is to follow. In the preface (1.1-7), the editors of Proverbs introduce a book of wisdom-teaching which the audience, the youth of Israel, are supposed to understand by discerning the figurative language in which the teaching is expressed. The present-day reader of Proverbs is invited in this commentary to read from the same perspective, becoming, like the original audience, engaged in the unfolding figurative language. At the outset Proverbs is set well within the household (1.8 —9.18), where a mother and father urge their naive and uncommitted son to retain their teaching and to successfully establish his own household. Wisdom is personified as a teacher and a welcoming host whose metaphorical banquet is laid out in the poetry of the topical groups identified in the 'Proverbs of Solomon' (10.1 —22.16). The parental wisdom teaching in the 'Words of the Wise' (22.17 —24.34) addresses a youth now on the threshold of public life, marking out a path of courageous wisdom amid attractive but self-destructive alternatives. In the 'Other Proverbs of Solomon' (chaps. 25 —29) a wealth of imagery and stark antitheses highlight earlier themes and inculcate personal responsibility in a lawless society. The Book of Proverbs concludes with the striking portraits of three eminent wise ones (chaps. 30 —31), who are presumably imbued with the spirit of the Book.
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Proverbs

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In previous commentaries on Proverbs, little is said about any literary and thematic unity in the book. This commentary, by contrast, reads Proverbs not as a collection of disjointed aphorisms, but as a book of symmetrically arranged wisdom-teaching where topics, forms of expression and rhetoric are constantly hearkening back to what has preceded or heralding what is to follow. In the preface (1.1-7), the editors of Proverbs introduce a book of wisdom-teaching which the audience, the youth of Israel, are supposed to understand by discerning the figurative language in which the teaching is expressed. The present-day reader of Proverbs is invited in this commentary to read from the same perspective, becoming, like the original audience, engaged in the unfolding figurative language. At the outset Proverbs is set well within the household (1.8 —9.18), where a mother and father urge their naive and uncommitted son to retain their teaching and to successfully establish his own household. Wisdom is personified as a teacher and a welcoming host whose metaphorical banquet is laid out in the poetry of the topical groups identified in the 'Proverbs of Solomon' (10.1 —22.16). The parental wisdom teaching in the 'Words of the Wise' (22.17 —24.34) addresses a youth now on the threshold of public life, marking out a path of courageous wisdom amid attractive but self-destructive alternatives. In the 'Other Proverbs of Solomon' (chaps. 25 —29) a wealth of imagery and stark antitheses highlight earlier themes and inculcate personal responsibility in a lawless society. The Book of Proverbs concludes with the striking portraits of three eminent wise ones (chaps. 30 —31), who are presumably imbued with the spirit of the Book.
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Revelation, Second Edition

Published: Aug 2011
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This reading of Revelation views the text as John's response to the problem of social accommodation in the churches of Asia Minor. Knight works from the hypothesis, now increasingly argued in scholarly circles, that there was no persecution of the Christians by the emperor Domitian at the end of the first century CE, and he explains the references to martyrdom in the Apocalypse as mainly symbolic. Knight argues that John is creating awareness of a crisis in order to call his readers to a stricter pattern of behaviour than Paul had allowed when writing to the Corinthians. This readable chapter-by-chapter commentary on the book concludes with a section on the main theological ideas of Revelation. This is a reprint of the edition originally published in 1999.
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Revelation, Second Edition

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This reading of Revelation views the text as John's response to the problem of social accommodation in the churches of Asia Minor. Knight works from the hypothesis, now increasingly argued in scholarly circles, that there was no persecution of the Christians by the emperor Domitian at the end of the first century CE, and he explains the references to martyrdom in the Apocalypse as mainly symbolic. Knight argues that John is creating awareness of a crisis in order to call his readers to a stricter pattern of behaviour than Paul had allowed when writing to the Corinthians. This readable chapter-by-chapter commentary on the book concludes with a section on the main theological ideas of Revelation. This is a reprint of the edition originally published in 1999.
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Hosea, Second Edition

Published: May 2011
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This reading of Hosea explores the book from a feminist, psychoanalytical and poetic perspective. What is God doing with a prostitute? How does the theme of prostitution relate to the abjection of the woman as the other, and the fantasy of sexual ecstasy, precisely because she escapes patriarchal order? Where is the prophet situated in the dialectic of rage and desire that both seduces and condemns Israel? The prophet's voice is both masculine and feminine, and poetically embodies the sensuality of wayward Israel. The ambiguity of voice is also that of the prophet's role, which is both to nurture Israel, as on its Exodus from Egypt, and to be the trap that destroys it. The problematic of voice and prophetic function is evident in the vivid dissection of Israel's social institutions, whose disintegration is inversely related to the centrality of the discussion in the structure of the book, and in the violent swings from despair to impossible hope. The focus on immediate and uncontrollable entropy, manifest in extended tangled metaphors, that occupies the centre of the book, is framed in the outer chapters by intertextual references to Israel's primordial vision, and the romantic distantiation of the Song of Songs, in which the erotic and poetic contradictions of the book find their perhaps ironic resolution. This is an extensive revision of the 1995 edition.
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Hosea, Second Edition

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This reading of Hosea explores the book from a feminist, psychoanalytical and poetic perspective. What is God doing with a prostitute? How does the theme of prostitution relate to the abjection of the woman as the other, and the fantasy of sexual ecstasy, precisely because she escapes patriarchal order? Where is the prophet situated in the dialectic of rage and desire that both seduces and condemns Israel? The prophet's voice is both masculine and feminine, and poetically embodies the sensuality of wayward Israel. The ambiguity of voice is also that of the prophet's role, which is both to nurture Israel, as on its Exodus from Egypt, and to be the trap that destroys it. The problematic of voice and prophetic function is evident in the vivid dissection of Israel's social institutions, whose disintegration is inversely related to the centrality of the discussion in the structure of the book, and in the violent swings from despair to impossible hope. The focus on immediate and uncontrollable entropy, manifest in extended tangled metaphors, that occupies the centre of the book, is framed in the outer chapters by intertextual references to Israel's primordial vision, and the romantic distantiation of the Song of Songs, in which the erotic and poetic contradictions of the book find their perhaps ironic resolution. This is an extensive revision of the 1995 edition.
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Genesis, Second Edition

Published: Aug 2009
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Working from the conviction that Genesis can be read as a coherent whole, this commentary foregrounds the sophistication of Hebrew narrative art, in particular its depiction of plot and character, and the interpretative possibilities raised by its intertextuality. Apparently simple and independent episodes emerge as complex and interconnected, constantly challenging readers to readjust their assessments of characters and expectations of plot development. Approaching the text predominantly from the perspective of a 'first-time reader', this commentary underscores the narrative's surprises, ironies and innovations.
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Genesis, Second Edition

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Working from the conviction that Genesis can be read as a coherent whole, this commentary foregrounds the sophistication of Hebrew narrative art, in particular its depiction of plot and character, and the interpretative possibilities raised by its intertextuality. Apparently simple and independent episodes emerge as complex and interconnected, constantly challenging readers to readjust their assessments of characters and expectations of plot development. Approaching the text predominantly from the perspective of a 'first-time reader', this commentary underscores the narrative's surprises, ironies and innovations.
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Nahum, Second Edition

Published: July 2009
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In its wanton celebration of violence, the book of Nahum poses ethical challenges to the modern reader. O'Brien offers the first full-scale engagement with this dimension of the book, exploring the ways in which the artfulness of its poetry serves the book's violent ideology, highlighting how its rhetoric attempts to render the Other fit for annihilation. She then reads from feminist, intertextual and deconstructionist angles and uncovers the destabilizing function of the book's aesthetics. Finally, she demonstrates how mining Nahum's ambiguities and tensions can contribute to an ethical response to its violence. This is a reprint of the 2002 edition.
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Nahum, Second Edition

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In its wanton celebration of violence, the book of Nahum poses ethical challenges to the modern reader. O'Brien offers the first full-scale engagement with this dimension of the book, exploring the ways in which the artfulness of its poetry serves the book's violent ideology, highlighting how its rhetoric attempts to render the Other fit for annihilation. She then reads from feminist, intertextual and deconstructionist angles and uncovers the destabilizing function of the book's aesthetics. Finally, she demonstrates how mining Nahum's ambiguities and tensions can contribute to an ethical response to its violence. This is a reprint of the 2002 edition.
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Psalms

Published: May 2009
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The Book of Psalms is often seen as an anthology of prayers and hymns from which the reader may extract a selection as need or interest dictates. However, a recent development in Psalms scholarship has been a discussion of whether the collection of psalms has some overall structure. Is the whole of the Book of Psalms greater than the sum of its individual parts? This commentary argues that it is and presents a continuous reading of the Book of Psalms. Moreover, the long-standing tradition, found within both Judaism and Christianity, of associating the psalms with David is used as a reading strategy. In this volume, the Psalms are presented sequentially. Each has its place in the collection but thirty-five are treated at greater length. They are read, at least in the first two books (Psalms 1 —72), as if they were David's words. Beyond that a more complex and developed association between David and the Psalms is demanded. David becomes a figure of hope for a different future and a new royal reign reflecting the reign of Yahweh. Throughout, David remains a model of piety for all who seek to communicate with God in prayer. It is in the light of this that later disasters in the life of Israel, especially the Babylonian Exile, can be faced. In the Book of Psalms, the past, in terms of both David's life and the history of Israel, is the key to future well-being and faithfulness.
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Psalms

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The Book of Psalms is often seen as an anthology of prayers and hymns from which the reader may extract a selection as need or interest dictates. However, a recent development in Psalms scholarship has been a discussion of whether the collection of psalms has some overall structure. Is the whole of the Book of Psalms greater than the sum of its individual parts? This commentary argues that it is and presents a continuous reading of the Book of Psalms. Moreover, the long-standing tradition, found within both Judaism and Christianity, of associating the psalms with David is used as a reading strategy. In this volume, the Psalms are presented sequentially. Each has its place in the collection but thirty-five are treated at greater length. They are read, at least in the first two books (Psalms 1 —72), as if they were David's words. Beyond that a more complex and developed association between David and the Psalms is demanded. David becomes a figure of hope for a different future and a new royal reign reflecting the reign of Yahweh. Throughout, David remains a model of piety for all who seek to communicate with God in prayer. It is in the light of this that later disasters in the life of Israel, especially the Babylonian Exile, can be faced. In the Book of Psalms, the past, in terms of both David's life and the history of Israel, is the key to future well-being and faithfulness.
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Mark, Second Edition

Published: Apr 2009
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In this commentary, Broadhead explores the Gospel of Mark for literary designs that might guide modern readers. He gives special attention to structure, strategy, significance and the appropriation of meaning, and his analysis shows the Gospel as a sequential account which employs a strategy of reciprocity among its episodes. Clear signs are created within this Gospel, the meaning of which is negotiated by the first readers in the aftermath of the Temple's fall. Modern readers are encouraged to connect these signs to their own world and to initiate a new performance of this Gospel. This Second Edition is a reprint, with altered pagination, of the volume first published in 1991 by Sheffield Academic Press.
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Mark, Second Edition

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In this commentary, Broadhead explores the Gospel of Mark for literary designs that might guide modern readers. He gives special attention to structure, strategy, significance and the appropriation of meaning, and his analysis shows the Gospel as a sequential account which employs a strategy of reciprocity among its episodes. Clear signs are created within this Gospel, the meaning of which is negotiated by the first readers in the aftermath of the Temple's fall. Modern readers are encouraged to connect these signs to their own world and to initiate a new performance of this Gospel. This Second Edition is a reprint, with altered pagination, of the volume first published in 1991 by Sheffield Academic Press.
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Matthew, Second Edition

Published: Apr 2009
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Margaret Davies takes up the insights of reader-response criticism to explore how the conventions and strategies of the Gospel of Matthew draw the reader into the world that the text creates. There is a recognition also of the text's significance as authoritative scripture for modern Christians, and the bias that this gives to any interpretative strategy. This is a reprint of the 1993 edition.
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Matthew, Second Edition

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Margaret Davies takes up the insights of reader-response criticism to explore how the conventions and strategies of the Gospel of Matthew draw the reader into the world that the text creates. There is a recognition also of the text's significance as authoritative scripture for modern Christians, and the bias that this gives to any interpretative strategy. This is a reprint of the 1993 edition.
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Job

Published: Sep 2008
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This commentary on the book of Job is a non-technical commentary but it is full of Whybray's most mature reflections on the book. The Introduction deals with the nature and purpose of the book, its specific and distinctive theology, its themes and its various parts and their mutual relationship. Thereafter, Norman Whybray, who is renowned for his insightful commentaries, usually comments on small sections of the text, and verse-by-verse in some especially difficult passages. As a whole, his commentary is illustrative of the fact that the book of Job is more concerned with the nature of God than with the problem of suffering. This is a reprint of the original edition in 1998.
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Job

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This commentary on the book of Job is a non-technical commentary but it is full of Whybray's most mature reflections on the book. The Introduction deals with the nature and purpose of the book, its specific and distinctive theology, its themes and its various parts and their mutual relationship. Thereafter, Norman Whybray, who is renowned for his insightful commentaries, usually comments on small sections of the text, and verse-by-verse in some especially difficult passages. As a whole, his commentary is illustrative of the fact that the book of Job is more concerned with the nature of God than with the problem of suffering. This is a reprint of the original edition in 1998.
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Philemon

Published: Apr 2008
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This latest volume in the Readings series offers a helpful guide to the shortest, and arguably the most personal, as well as enigmatic, of Paul's letters. It surveys the range of interpretations put forward over the years, and identifies the strengths and weaknesses in the traditional reading of Philemon as addressing the estrangement that has arisen between Paul's friend Philemon and his runaway slave Onesimus. Recent alternatives to this reading are assessed, with particular attention to the light they shed on Paul's own attitude to slavery and his understanding of reconciliation. Historically, the Letter to Philemon has been the focus of much debate between abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates, and the use made of the Letter in the 18th and 19th centuries is here uniquely chronicled. In addition, the story of Onesimus and Philemon, as traditionally conceived, had a great appeal to writers of historical fiction, and a number of examples of that genre are summarized. The book also highlights the way in which Philemon has featured in filmic treatments of Paul's life, including a new and fascinating film in Arabic entitled The Runaway (2006). The volume offers an excellent introduction, not only to the main historical and critical issues raised by Philemon, but also to the rich legacy that the Letter has created for subsequent generations of readers who remain fascinated by the subtlety of its depiction of human relationships.
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Philemon

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This latest volume in the Readings series offers a helpful guide to the shortest, and arguably the most personal, as well as enigmatic, of Paul's letters. It surveys the range of interpretations put forward over the years, and identifies the strengths and weaknesses in the traditional reading of Philemon as addressing the estrangement that has arisen between Paul's friend Philemon and his runaway slave Onesimus. Recent alternatives to this reading are assessed, with particular attention to the light they shed on Paul's own attitude to slavery and his understanding of reconciliation. Historically, the Letter to Philemon has been the focus of much debate between abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates, and the use made of the Letter in the 18th and 19th centuries is here uniquely chronicled. In addition, the story of Onesimus and Philemon, as traditionally conceived, had a great appeal to writers of historical fiction, and a number of examples of that genre are summarized. The book also highlights the way in which Philemon has featured in filmic treatments of Paul's life, including a new and fascinating film in Arabic entitled The Runaway (2006). The volume offers an excellent introduction, not only to the main historical and critical issues raised by Philemon, but also to the rich legacy that the Letter has created for subsequent generations of readers who remain fascinated by the subtlety of its depiction of human relationships.
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Hebrews, Second Edition

Published: Feb 2008
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This commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews envisages the recipients of the letter as a community that has embraced the Christian message but is beginning to question its adequacy to meet their spiritual needs. They have given up the richness of Jewish ritual and cultic tradition for a way of life that lacks the venerable symbols and institutions they had previously valued. Gordon highlights the arguments and rhetorical strategies the author uses to counter this feeling of 'cultic deficit' as he draws attention to what they actually possess in consequence of their Christian commitment. The Letter to the Hebrews has particular contemporary relevance today because, in warning the community against 'going back', the author implies that Christianity has superseded their ancestral Jewish faith. That may seem a slight on the religion 'superseded', but Gordon points out that Judaism itself, as well as Christianity, represents a significant break with the religion of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Jewish —Christian dialogue would profit from being conducted in that light. For this Second Edition, the author has written an additional Introduction, and the pagination of this edition differs from that of the first.
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Hebrews, Second Edition

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This commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews envisages the recipients of the letter as a community that has embraced the Christian message but is beginning to question its adequacy to meet their spiritual needs. They have given up the richness of Jewish ritual and cultic tradition for a way of life that lacks the venerable symbols and institutions they had previously valued. Gordon highlights the arguments and rhetorical strategies the author uses to counter this feeling of 'cultic deficit' as he draws attention to what they actually possess in consequence of their Christian commitment. The Letter to the Hebrews has particular contemporary relevance today because, in warning the community against 'going back', the author implies that Christianity has superseded their ancestral Jewish faith. That may seem a slight on the religion 'superseded', but Gordon points out that Judaism itself, as well as Christianity, represents a significant break with the religion of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Jewish —Christian dialogue would profit from being conducted in that light. For this Second Edition, the author has written an additional Introduction, and the pagination of this edition differs from that of the first.
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2 Chronicles

Published: Dec 2007
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Across the pages of 2 Chronicles a colourful cast of characters passes in breathless parade before the reader. The tales of the kings of Judah are told in sequence, from Rehoboam 'the Enlarger' (who on the contrary shrinks the kingdom) to Zedekiah 'the Righteous' (who equally contrariwise profanes the divine name). These motley monarchs are preceded by the unparalleled King Solomon of All Israel and succeeded by the imperial King Cyrus of Persia, and all the while the tellers of the tales weave an insistent ideological thread through the fabric of their stories. John Jarick's reading of Chronicles brings out the fascination and discomfort of handling an ancient scroll that presents itself as the authoritative account of how things were and how they ought to be.
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2 Chronicles

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Across the pages of 2 Chronicles a colourful cast of characters passes in breathless parade before the reader. The tales of the kings of Judah are told in sequence, from Rehoboam 'the Enlarger' (who on the contrary shrinks the kingdom) to Zedekiah 'the Righteous' (who equally contrariwise profanes the divine name). These motley monarchs are preceded by the unparalleled King Solomon of All Israel and succeeded by the imperial King Cyrus of Persia, and all the while the tellers of the tales weave an insistent ideological thread through the fabric of their stories. John Jarick's reading of Chronicles brings out the fascination and discomfort of handling an ancient scroll that presents itself as the authoritative account of how things were and how they ought to be.
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Judges

Published: Oct 2007
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In this new contribution to the Readings series of commentaries, Roger Ryan offers a challenge to the fashionable disdain for the heroes of the Book of Judges. As against the current consensus majoring on the supposed flaws in the characters of the judges, and denigrating them as participants in Israel's moral and religious decline, he paints a positive portrait of each of the book's judge-deliverers. The key element in all the stories of the judges is that each of them wins independence for oppressed Israelites against great odds —an element that should predispose readers to a favourable evaluation of the heroes. Ehud slaughters an enemy king when the only weapon he has is a homemade dagger. Barak resolutely charges downhill against enemy chariots reinforced with iron. Jael slaughters an enemy commander by improvising with a hammer and a tent peg. Gideon defeats hordes of nomadic invaders with a small token army. The lone hero Samson slaughters the Philistine foe in great numbers. The Book of Judges presents in this reading a dark story-world in which its characters take heroic risks as they resolve conflicts by violent means. Their stories are jubilantly told and readers are expected to be neither squeamish nor censorious.
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Judges

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In this new contribution to the Readings series of commentaries, Roger Ryan offers a challenge to the fashionable disdain for the heroes of the Book of Judges. As against the current consensus majoring on the supposed flaws in the characters of the judges, and denigrating them as participants in Israel's moral and religious decline, he paints a positive portrait of each of the book's judge-deliverers. The key element in all the stories of the judges is that each of them wins independence for oppressed Israelites against great odds —an element that should predispose readers to a favourable evaluation of the heroes. Ehud slaughters an enemy king when the only weapon he has is a homemade dagger. Barak resolutely charges downhill against enemy chariots reinforced with iron. Jael slaughters an enemy commander by improvising with a hammer and a tent peg. Gideon defeats hordes of nomadic invaders with a small token army. The lone hero Samson slaughters the Philistine foe in great numbers. The Book of Judges presents in this reading a dark story-world in which its characters take heroic risks as they resolve conflicts by violent means. Their stories are jubilantly told and readers are expected to be neither squeamish nor censorious.
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1 Chronicles, Second Edition

Published: Oct 2007
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The books of Chronicles have a certain fantasy quality about them. They create an imaginary world in which things happen just so, and in which any potentially untidy loose ends in their narrative of the past are tied together in a highly systematic way. This is storytelling with the didactic purpose of inculcating a particular ideology, bombarding the reader with a kaleidoscopic procession of heroes and villains and presenting a frontierland of danger and opportunity. John Jarick's focus on the literary world of Chronicles provides a fresh reading of the work, foregrounding the often unrecognized artistry in the telling of the tale —including at times a distinctly musical language and a careful mathematical precision. But at the same time he does not hide the dark underbelly of the writing, with its persistent note of conformity to the political and religious system advocated by the storytellers. This edition is a reprint of the original 2002 edition with different pagination. A companion volume on 2 Chronicles is published for the first time in 2007.
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1 Chronicles, Second Edition

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The books of Chronicles have a certain fantasy quality about them. They create an imaginary world in which things happen just so, and in which any potentially untidy loose ends in their narrative of the past are tied together in a highly systematic way. This is storytelling with the didactic purpose of inculcating a particular ideology, bombarding the reader with a kaleidoscopic procession of heroes and villains and presenting a frontierland of danger and opportunity. John Jarick's focus on the literary world of Chronicles provides a fresh reading of the work, foregrounding the often unrecognized artistry in the telling of the tale —including at times a distinctly musical language and a careful mathematical precision. But at the same time he does not hide the dark underbelly of the writing, with its persistent note of conformity to the political and religious system advocated by the storytellers. This edition is a reprint of the original 2002 edition with different pagination. A companion volume on 2 Chronicles is published for the first time in 2007.
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