Book Review- Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament “Galatians”

Quite a while back a DenSem buddy named Jon Clemence put out a Facebook comment that Zondervan was giving away one free new commentary to folks.  There was a group of four from which I could choose one.  The catch- the recipient had to review and/or promote the book on his or her blog.  At the time, I knew a blog was in the offing, but not public quite yet.  Now that “the Marble Madness Blog” is up and rolling (ha), I can make a concerted effort to maintain any semblance of integrity remaining within myself.

Schreiner, Thomas R.. Galatians. [Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament] Ed. Clinton E. Arnold. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.

This is no William Barclay style, introductory level commentary.   Schreiner lays out the longest introduction to a biblical book of only six chapters ever produced.  Prior to reading this introduction, this reader had no prior knowledge that the manuscript to the Galatians could have gone to a Northern or Southern group.  Apparently dating the manuscript lies at the bottom of such debate.  The book overall is in depth and thorough.  Much more thorough than any commentary this reader has ever reviewed or studied on Galatians.

This ECNT commentary reads like a seminary exegesis class assignment.  Each section is broken down into literary context, an outline, sentence diagramming, translation, textual explanation, and theological application.  There are heaps of footnotes for additional study on any particular topic.  Each clause in a verse is broken down individually in Greek, then discussed in English.  Any New Testament commentary I spend any significant time in better have Greek.  All those semesters of studying are not going to go to waste.  There is little jargon in the explanation of each clause.  Most of that is found in the footnotes.  With the emphasis on Greek the way the book is laid out, I did notice that not much attention was paid to verbs.  Personally, I like verbs.  I like tense, voice, and mood.  I like the way a verb gives aspect.  When teaching the Bible,  I find verbal action to be important in how we apply the Word in everyday life.   Certainly in the Application sections there is some of those ideas, however, this information is furtive.  I found the Application section to be a bit arid.  If the Bible is not applicable to the common congregant, then they are not too interested in spending much time reading or studying it.   So when I read Biblical material to Galatia and the application of scripture therein, this text will not be my mainstay. 

Would I buy this commentary?  Probably not.  Will I use it if I ever preach or study Galatians?  Certainly.  I love the diverse perspective all of the authors bring, even William Barclay.



  1. Jon Clemence says:

    Nice review. Thanks for the shout-out!