I guess most readers of this blog now know my enthusiasm for biblical exegetical commentaries. Eugene Peterson describes a commentary as a narrative about the text, and though he doesn't say so I'd go further and say that a well written and well read commentary tells the story of the text into our own story. In his days as a Bishop in the Church of South India Lesslie Newbigin urged pastor preachers to "always have some bible study going, working through the text with commentaries and lexicon and grammar." This he saw as an essential discipline which built towards a familiarity with the text while at the same time subverting a careless or complacent taking of the Bible for granted.
Right now I'm reading Raymond Collins, new commentary on Second Corinthians. In the next few months Mark Siefrid's volume in the Pillar series will be published, and so will George Guthrie's Baker Exegetical Commentary, both of them substantial scholarly contributions to our understanding of Paul's premier pastoral text. Allowing for the fact that Murray Harris, Frank Matera, Paul Barnett, Ralph Martin, Margaret Thrall and Victor Furnish have already published equally substantial treatments in the last 15 years or so, Paul's epistle is in danger of sinking under the weight of excessive exegesis.
True enough. So it's good to have an economically produced commentary of under 300 pages which gathers great learning into a treatment that is lucidly written, pastorally alert and theologically sensitive. Second Corinthians 5 is one of those passages that is definitive in much of my own theology with its emphasis on new creation, reconciliation and the cross of Christ. Passages like this need the tools to dig deeply and scan widely. But Collins is an experienced and informed guide through the argument, and a sharply sympathetic student of Paul. Collins understands Paul, his hang ups and insecurities, his gifts and weaknesses, he knows the cost of a pastoral heart hurt by rejection, and the inner trumoil of misunderstanding and relationships under strain. That's one of the strengths of the commentary - Collins cuts Paul enough slack to let Paul be Paul, which allows the voice of a passionate pastor to be heard more clearly, less muffled by reader expectations of Paul as either neurotic misogynist or can do no wrong Apostle.
Not many who come here will be commentary readers - those who are, this is a good one!