Duane A. Garrett. A Commentary on Exodus (Kregel Exegetical Library). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2014. 752 pp. $39.99.
In the latest volume of the Kregel Exegetical Library series, SBTS professor Duane Garrett provides a commentary on Exodus with distinctive features that fills a gap in the existing pool of fine commentaries on the book of Exodus. In his preface Garrett mentions six key approaches in this volume:
- provide a short, basic introduction to Egyptian history, culture, language, and geography in order to help readers appreciate the context of the biblical story
- convey the state of scholarly debate over the crucial historical questions in the book of Exodus in an even-handed way
- illustrate the importance of analyzing the biblical text on a clause-by-clause basis by translating every clause on a separate line
- demonstrate that Exodus contains a series of poems and show why it matters
- provide a useful commentary for pastors and teachers that still addresses technical issues by confining most of the technical discussion to footnotes
- exegete the text as a Christian theologian by connecting the book of Exodus to the New Testament as well as Christian doctrine.
Garrett’s commentary begins with a detailed 131-page introduction that addresses the sources and composition of Exodus, provides an overview of the text of Exodus including text-critical issues, and explains his translation procedure. Garrett then provides a fairly in-depth introduction (for a biblical commentary) to the history and culture of ancient Egypt covering the land, chronology and history, and language. Next Garrett spends considerable time on the date of the exodus, examining the biblical data and historical evidence for the Late Date and the Early Date, covering a few other related issues (the store cities of Raamses and Pithom, the archaeology of Canaan, Jericho, and Hazor), noting two eccentric theories from respected scholars that are instructive though implausible (the Speos Artemidos inscription and the Siversten Hypothesis), and briefly examining a few chronological conundrums related to the price of a slave, ruling pharaohs. The section on dating ends with a caveat on early biblical chronology (the numbers “are correct in asserting what they actually meant, and this is not necessarily the same as what we think they meant, p. 93) and a brief look at a “Very Early Date” and a “Very Late Date.” Next, Garrett addresses the historicity of the exodus. In summing up this lengthy section, Garrett contends that “The exodus, we may be sure, did happen as described in the Bible. On the other hand, we must be humble about our ability to assign it to a specific date” (101). Garrett then provides a lengthy discussion on the location of the Yam Suph and of Mt. Sinai, an outline of Exodus with a structure comprising seven major divisions, and finally, a discussion on the message of Exodus and its place in Old Testament theology.
The commentary proper goes passage by passage providing a few brief sentences by way of introduction, a translation with a clause per line, an outline and comments on the structure of the passage, verse-by-verse commentary, and theological summary of key points. As mentioned above, technical discussions are mainly in footnotes so that the preacher or teacher preparing a sermon or Bible study is able to get the main points about the text as well as key theological points without getting bogged down by overly technical details. This commentary on Exodus is a superb volume for evangelicals and is especially suited for ministry use.
Thanks to Kregel Academic for the review copy!