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Posted January 7, 2004

Book: Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible
Editors: James D. G. Dunn & John W. Rogerson
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K. pp.1629

Excerpt from Jacket:

No one familiar with the Bible needs to be told that it is a truly remarkable work. But it takes help to understand this ancient collection of diverse forms of literature written by different people across many centuries. The Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (ECB) is the finest, most up-to-date single volume Bible handbook now available.

Written by world-class Bible scholars, the ECB encapsulates in nontechnical language the best of modern scholarship on the sixty-six biblical books plus the Apocrypha. The only one-volume Bible commentary to cover all the texts (even including 1 Enoch) regarded by one or more Christian churches as canonical, the ECB provides reader-friendly treatments and succinct summaries of each section of the text that will be valuable to scholars, students, and general readers alike.

The primary objective of this work is to clarify the meaning of each section of the Bible. Rather than attempting a verse-by-verse analysis, (virtually impossible in a one-volume work), the ECB focuses on principal units of meaning ó narrative, parable, prophetic oracle, section of argument, and so on ó highlighting their interconnectedness with the rest of the biblical text. The volume also addresses and answers major issues, including the range of possible interpretations, and refers readers to the best fuller discussions. Beyond providing reliable, informative commentary, this hefty volume also includes thirteen outstanding introductory and context-setting articles on the biblical documents.

The sixty-seven contributors to the ECB come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are acknowledged leaders in the field of biblical studies. Their contributions stand out either for their fresh interpretations of evidence, or for their way of asking new questions of the text, or their new angles of approach. While the translation of choice is the New Revised Standard Version, many of the contributors offer their own vivid translations of the Hebrew and Greek.

Excerpt from Book:

Commentary on John 1:1-18

"The life was the light of all people" (1:4) again echoes the ancient tradition. Light is brought into being by the word of God as the first act in the creation story (Gen 1:3). The emphasis in John 1:4, however seems closer to that in Ps 119:105, where Godís word is said to illuminate the psalmistís pathway. There is a double connection here to the wisdom tradition, where Sophia is not only known as the first of Godís acts of creation, but is also revered for her illuminative presence. "Solomon" chooses her before light because her radiance is greater (Wis 7:10). She is a reflection of the ever present light of God (Wis 7:26), unquenched by the night or by evil (Wis 7:29-30). The gift of light, sought as a symbol of salvation, is being opened up to all people in the person of Jesus Christ, the very embodiment of Sophia.

Light is identifiable only in contrast to darkness, as the poem goes on to state (Jn. 1:5). Primeval darkness is overcome by the creation of light (Gen 1:2-3), a motif which surely informs this text. Johnís prior association of light with the salvation of humanity however, leads the reader to hear the theme of conflict between good and evil behind this contrast. The word "overcome" (katelaben) is used again in 12:35, where such conflict is undoubtedly in mind, centered around the person of Jesus, the Light. The thought is not of an irreconcilable dualism, but rather in line with what we have noted in Wis 7:29-30, namely, that darkness/evil cannot put out the light of Godís all-pervading wisdom. The brief clarification of the role of Jbap which follows (1:6-8) confirms this, since he is to be seen neither as "darkness" nor as a "false" light in contrast to the true life of 1:9. We might say that Jbap sheds light on the Light through his witness. In parallel with Wis 7:10, 29-30, therefore, he is eclipsed by the superior radiance.