IVP - Addenda & Errata - Not Another Commentary!

June 30, 2011

Not Another Commentary!

Do we need any more commentaries? I recently came across this comment at the opening of D. A. Carson’s review of J. Ramsey Michaels’s NICNT commentary on John:

When my students ask if we really need yet another commentary on such-and-such a biblical book, I sometimes tell them that, even if we do not need another commentary, we can always do with more commentary writers. What I mean is that we must constantly produce people who wrestle with the biblical texts, or pretty soon no one will be able to do it very well. Normally great commentators arise out of a plethora of people writing commentaries. This is, of course, a polite way of conceding that many commentaries are not all that memorable. They contribute little by way of freshness, genuine insight, or mature scholarship. They are simply the price to pay for major contributions.

Now, it would be churlish for me to say such a thing. (Seriously, some authors would get the wrong idea of what I think of them.) But I’m happy to have D. A. say it.

Because in reality, this is the way it is with so much of life, isn’t it? How many baseball games and wannabes did it take to produce a Babe Ruth or a Willie Mays? How many weekend and late-night poets did it take to foster the culture that produced a Robert Frost or a Gerard Manley Hopkins? How many hometown jazz pianists or saxophonists did it take to create a Thelonius Monk or a John Coltrane?

A lot of us would be happy to learn that what we’ve done—and even done very well—is compost for greatness. There’s nothing wrong with that!

And what does Carson say about Michaels’s commentary? “This commentary by Michaels is one of the major contributions.”

Posted by Dan Reid at June 30, 2011 9:44 AM Bookmark and Share

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