Friday, April 27, 2007

The Best Commentary on 2 Corinthians(?)

I finally finished my review of Murray J. Harris' "The Second Epistle to the Corinthians" for Faith & Mission. Anyway, I'm pretty well convinced that this has to be the best commentary on 2 Corinthians. Given how much I love Barnett's commentary in the NICNT series, that really is saying something! Here are what I perceive to be the strength's of this commentary (in no particular order):

1) its massive bibliography (102 pages), which is supplemented by the bibliographies provided at the end of his discussion of each passage;
2) its extensive introduction dealing with historical, literary, and theological issues (Harris gives an able defense of the letter's unity and interestingly argues that Paul's "opponents" are a combination of i) proto-Gnostics; ii) Palestinian Judaizers)
3) its readability (Harris certainly doesn't avoid technical issues - consider the series, after all - but I got the sense that he was aiming to write a very "reader-oriented" commentary)
4) its lengthy discussion (45 pages!) of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (Harris essentially suggests Paul is here arguing that believers who die before the parousia - Harris argues that v. 6-10 do not refer to the parousia - are in the immediate presence of God but are nonetheless in some sort of disembodied state; cf. J. Cooper, Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting)
5) its extended paraphrase that helps clarify the exegetical decisions outlined in the commentary proper (those who opposed dynamic equivalence translations would certainly disagree but I would love to see more publishers include extended paraphrases in future exegetical commentaries) .

Undoubtedly, a proper NT library would need to include more than this single volume on 2 Corinthians. At the same time, one could not have a proper NT library without it!


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Chris Tilling said...

Yes, it sure is good. I prefer Thrall's two volume work though. But you can't beat Harris for analysis of the Greek semantics.

Bryan L said...

Did you start posting elsewhere? I just started reading some of your posts and they are really interesting but noticed it only goes to April?
Bryan L

Anonymous said...

Amen and Amen. I haven't looked at Thrall, but I've been nothing but impressed with Harris.

With that said...I still wish I owned Barnett...good theology...

Mike Aubrey

Anonymous said...

Have you read Garland's commentary? If so, how would you compare it? Thanks.

Mark Owens said...

I haven't looked much at Thrall's volume, though I'm sure it's a must have. You're right about Harris on Greek semantics.

You simply have to get Barnett!

Its been awhile since I looked Garland's volume. I did find it quite helpful, but the serious has obvious limitations. Save your money for the big three (Thrall, Harris, Barnett) and get Garland if the price is right would be my advice.