Interpretive Dance

How the Brazos Biblical Commentary Falls Short

In 2005, a commentary on the Acts of the Apostles by Jaroslav Pelikan, the great historian of theology, appeared as the inaugural entry in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (Brazos Press). Sixteen of the planned forty volumes have now been published, eleven devoted to Old Testament and five to New Testament books. Interestingly, the series features contributors who are not first of all biblical scholars but Christian theologians of one stripe or another, and the explicit framework for interpretation is the Christian creed. Thinking an interim assessment of the series might prove helpful both to present and prospective readers, I made it my summer project to read everything that has appeared in print, and to provide what I hope is a fair assessment of the quality of the project so far.

I stress the word “fair” because I recognize that my approach to the series involves a degree of bias. In theory, I ought to be positively disposed toward the venture, since I have often expressed frustration at the inadequacies of the dominant historical-critical method, have written commentaries that dispense with tracing antecedent sources in favor of a focus on the literary and religious dimensions of the texts, have tried from time to time to think theologically (even on the Nicene Creed!), and have spent the past eight years...

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About the Author

Luke Timothy Johnson, a frequent contributor, is the R.W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Two of his most recent books are Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity (Yale) and Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church (Eerdmans).