Monday, October 27, 2008

Jonah - Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

Brazos Theological Commentaries are designed to be theologically creative, broadly ecumenical, Biblical commentaries, which offer variant readings and methodologies for approaching Biblical texts. They are minimally technical in presentation, while offering rich theological insight for the laity and theologically trained student of scripture. The editors, which include R. R. Reno and Ephraim Radner, believe that the way we teach and approach scripture has been reformulated to exclude most people who have not been “trained” theologically by an institution of higher education. In this sense, BrazosTheological Commentaries are a corrective to the dominance of professionalized theology where one must first do the hard work of hermeneutics, exegesis, textual studies, in order to correctly interpret the text. A commentary’s role, according to Hauerwas (in His Brazos commentary on Matthew) is to make a better follower of Jesus Christ and his church. The author of each commentary chooses his/her own interpretive methodology. Thus some authors choose to depart from the standard and modern historical critical method of interpretation, and fully choose a more historically based (if I can use such a judgment) method, such a typology. As a whole, the series assumes that the tradition of the Church, which includes the Apostles and Paul, still have legitimate reasons and approaches to the meaning of textual studies.
The Brazos series also blends this interpretation with today’s culture for a commentary that is sensitive and engaging to modern readers. Brazos is a creative, theologically sensitive, imaginative series sure to invoke piety and passion to worship and serve God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with heart and mind.
The seventh commentary in the Brazos series is on Jonah by Phillip Cary. His basic approach is to see Jonah through a typological reading, as it is related to/fulfilled in Jesus Christ. As an Old Testament Studies professor I get a little nervous when I hear this approach is being used, partially because the original text is usually neglected and any interpretation is offered. I was ecstatic to read that Cary’s approach tries to link the historical account to the typology itself. He believes typology is only valid if you can connect it with the original historical reading of the text. Jonah was written after the return from the exile, and the book itself is a parable, which tries to connect the historical account of Israel with the story of Jonah. Don’t understand how? Read it and you will see that Phillip Cary did his homework. Even better, the parable connects the gourd at the end of the story (which withers away) with the messianic line. Many people who read Jonah closely point out the abrupt ending. But through Cary’s reading of Jonah, the end of the story does not reveal a fickle and pouting prophet who is upset that God took away his comfort and shade, but rather he represents the anger of Israel that there is no messianic line for the messiah to come, and God is saving gentiles! This also has connections with Isaiah’s vision for a new humanity in chapters 56-66. Cary points out the comedic elements in the book, which are abounding! He writes with passion, intelligence, creativity and the ability for anyone to pick up the book of Jonah and immerse themselves in it.
- Eric Karloski works in the Used Book Department at Baker Book House and has recently been accepted for a position as Professor of Old Testament Studies at Life Theological Seminary, Bhubaneswar, India


Andrew Rogers said...

Great Review! I never really understand that part about the fig tree at all. No I've got to read that book!

Keep it up Eric and congratulations on the teaching post!

Andrew Rogers said...

That should read "understood".

Eva said...

Hey Eric,
It's excellent review! Wow, you've really got a gift for writing.

Congrats on the new teaching job, you and Nikki will be in my prayers as you head off to India.