Monday, January 25, 2010

Scot McKnight on the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture

Scot McKnight offers praise to both Baker Academic and the authors of a new commentary series written by and for Roman Catholics.  To date four have been published:

Ephesians by Peter S. Williamson
Second Corinthians by Thomas D. Stegman
First and Second Timothy, Titus by George T. Montague
The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy

Here's some of what McKnight wrote:
"Baker Academic has done something that should lead all of us to a moment of thanksgiving: I could be wrong, but I think Baker is the first evangelical publishing house that has a commentary series on the Bible by and for Roman Catholics."
"There's something about this series that is notable: the authors explain the Bible in theologically orthodox ways and explain the text clearly, succinctly and without a lengthy apparatus of the history of interpretation or discussions of alternative views. Solid exegesis; discussion of the evidence as needed; not much bibliographical reference. Just expounds what the text says and moves on. In other words, this could be the first commentary read by a pastor preparing a text and could be read easily by a Sunday School teacher preparing a text, and it would be an excellent commentary for a college Bible class. Sometimes the passages end with reflection and application. A little more thorough than the Tyndale series, and a bit like Black's NT commenaries (sic), the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture will prove itself to be a reliable, Catholic -- but ecumenically open and respectful -- commentary. Kudos to Baker, but even more to the authors."
McKnight says he has "dipped into and enjoyed two of them" (The Gospel of Mark and Second Corinthians).

Here is an example of a side bar on the issue of "The Brothers and Sisters of Jesus":

"Who are the brothers and sisters of Jesus mentioned here and throughout the New Testament (John 2:12; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5; Gal. 1:19)?  Some commentators have contended that they refer to Jesus' full siblings.  But the ancient Church unanimously held that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life.  That Mark is not referring to full siblings of Jesus is indicated by his later mention of James and Joses as sons of a different Mary (Mark 6:3; 15:40; see Matt. 27:56).  Moreover, the brothers' authoritative behavior toward Jesus (Mark 3:31-32) suggests that they are older than he, although Jesus is Mary's firstborn (Luke 2:7).  Both Hebrew and Aramaic, lacking a word for 'cousin,' used 'brother' to refer to a range of kinship relationships (See Gen. 13:8; 2 Kings 10:13-14; Rom. 9:3).  The Greek term adelphos also admitted a wider meaning that full-sibling.  Catholics have traditionally interpreted Jesus' brothers to refer either to his cousins, as St. Jerome held, or to children of Joseph by an earlier marriage (see Catechism, 500)."  (The Gospel of Mark, p. 79)
The commentaries are based on the New American Bible and all have the Catholic imprimatur.  They are paperback and sell for $19.99. 


Steve Caruso said...

"Both Hebrew and Aramaic, lacking a word for 'cousin,' used 'brother' to refer to a range of kinship relationships"

Not *quite* with Aramaic.

There is no dispute that "brother" (and also "sister") was used for a variety of relationships, but there were very common constructions such as "bar dudan" or "bar akh av" (lit. ~"son of (my) uncle" the former of which is attested in Galilean Aramaic, the grandaughter of Jesus' dialect) which specifically denoted cousins.

Steve Caruso
Translator, Aramaic Designs
Author, The Aramaic Blog

Andrew said...

I've really enjoyed this series so far. I've read Healy's volume on Mark more than the others.

Great stuff.

Louis said...


Thanks for the clarification. Your comment sparked a memory of something I had read by John Meier on this issue. I looked it up and here's how he put it:

"Indeed, neither biblical Hebrew nor Aramaic had a single word for 'cousin.'" (A Marginal Jew, vol. 1 p. 325) He does note an Aramaic word which I'm not sure is the same as what you cited which he said was "often used to express the relationship." His discussion is one of the best I've seen. Oddly enough he believes the brothers and sisters of Jesus were full siblings even though he's a Catholic. He concludes his discussion with "Nevertheless, if--prescinding from faith and later Church teaching--the historian or exegete is asked to render a judgment on the NT and patristic texts we have examined, viewed simply as historical sources, the most probable opinion is that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were true siblings." (Vol. 1, p. 331)


So glad to hear you're enjoying it.