Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Volume 6 (Review)

I recently received the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary 9 (=CBC), Volume 6 on Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs in the mail from Adam Sabados (you can follow him and Tyndale house on Twitter).   I will give a brief mention of the authors and talk a bit more about the contents mixed in with a few of my own personal impressions.

The Job section was written by August Konkel and the Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs sections by Tremper Longman III.  For information on Konkel see HERE and for Longman see HERE.  Both authors are well credentialed and qualified to be writing on their respective books, though I should state up front that I found the volume a bit uneven as I thought the sections written by Longman were a bit stronger than the one written by Konkel.  No offense intended though, the Job section was still good.

In terms of the contents, I might offer a comparison.  The CBC reminds me of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary with regard to the extent (i.e. length) of comments, but with a different focus that is reflected in the layout.  The comments are focused on communicating the theological message of sections of the Biblical books rather than on smaller details, though there is some focus on detail in the “notes” sections.  Thus, the commentary does not move through verse by verse in the same way that some others do.  This may appeal to some readers and not to others.

The commentary is decidedly evangelical in outlook.  I think an example of this is found in Konkel’s insistence on making sure that he is not ruling out that Job may have been a real person: “The phrase translated ‘There once was a man’ does not imply that Job is a literary creation, as the English expression ‘Once upon a time’ does” (p. 29).  I didn’t get the feel from the introduction that this was a major issue for Konkel as he talks about the timelessness of the story.  And, I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would care about matters like that, but I guess it might be an issue for some potential readers.

With that said, I still found the commentary useful as a non-evangelical.  The authors are familiar with critical scholarship and bring it into the discussion when needed.  There are adequate parenthetical notes and good bibliographies for each book.

Particularly helpful are the introductory sections to each of the Biblical books.  In a day when generalists are very difficult to find, good introductions to Biblical books written by people who are experts on those particular books are always helpful.  The introductions in the CBC certainly fall into this category.

As an overall appraisal, I would recommend the volume to pastors and lay people.  I’m not sure that it would make the cut for students, but perhaps that is too much to expect of one volume.  It would be valuable for those who developing sermons or study lessons in a church setting.

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