The Pillar New Testament Commentary series is one of the best mid-range commentary series. Written by some of the finest NT scholars of our day, these commentaries are informed by the most rigorous scholarship but avoid the overly technical details that might not interest the typical preacher, teacher, and interested lay reader. One of the newest volumes in the series is Mark Seifrid’s contribution on 2 Corinthians. I love this series and every new volume catches my attention, but I was especially excited for this volume because I have tremendous appreciation for Seifrid’s work as a Pauline scholar. I am grateful to Logos Bible Software for providing a review copy of the Logos edition, and will comment very briefly on the commentary itself before moving on to the unique benefits of having this commentary in Logos.
In the introduction, Seifrid first provides a background into what prompted Paul to write 1 Corinthians, themes therein that impact the interpretation of 2 Corinthians, and the issue that prompted the writing of 2 Corinthians. Next, Seifrid offers some brief comments on the vexing issues of Paul’s opponents in Corinth and the purpose of 2 Corinthians. Here, he argues that a minimal mirror-reading of the opponents is best and that “[i]t is the Corinthian misunderstanding of the apostle and the Gospel that is finally at the center of the argument” (xxix). He subsequently addresses the integrity of 2 Corinthians and contends that although the theory of it being a composite letter should not be rejected outright, it is not likely to be true. The introduction concludes with a few comments on the theology of the letter. Whereas some commentaries begin with an overly lengthy and technical introduction (~100 pages) that can be difficult for nonacademic readers to plow through, Seifrid’s introduction in this volume suffers from the opposite by being too brief. At a mere ten pages in a commentary proper of 500 pages, it would have been appropriate and helpful to have a more robust introduction. The introduction would have benefited on a more detailed treatment in any of the four sections, but especially in the theology section. Here Seifrid offers brief comments on the fundamental issue at stake, namely, the marks of a true apostle. I found it surprising that clear themes in the letter (such as salvation) were not noted and expounded upon.
In terms of the commentary proper, it’s in general more theological than is typical. And because it is theological, it should be a surprise that his own theological position at times comes through. One place this can be strongly seen is in his treatment of 2 Corinthians 5:21. Here Seifrid describes Paul understanding of reconciliation to God as forensic (260), Christ’s “place-taking” as exclusive and substitutionary (262), and the righteousness of God as “simultaneously God’s act of judgment and the justification of God” (264). Interestingly for Protestants, Seifrid notes that Paul’s language of justification here “cannot rightly be reduced to the area of an imputed righteousness. He speaks of the human being created anew in Christ” (265, italics original). He goes on to make two concluding observations from the above points. First, while stressing that for Paul justification is extrinsic and forensic, Seifrid warns against the Protestant error of wrongly assuming that justification becomes the Christian’s inherent possession. “Justification is not found in a bare declaration (which must be believed to be effective, in any case) but in a relation, an apprehension or grasping of the crucified and risen Christ” (266, italics original). The second observation Seifrid makes is that the usual Protestant understanding of justification as the imputation of Christ’s righteousness must be grounded in a more comprehensive understanding of salvation. Interestingly, Seifrid gives preference to union with Christ over and against an ordo salutis as the construct in which justification is to be located.
Because most commentaries are grounded on exegesis and largely neglect theology, the more theological nature of Seifrid’s commentary on 2 Corinthians can be seen as a strength. This commentary is a worthy addition to the library of any serious lay student of the Bible, as well as teachers, preachers, and even scholars. Most would benefit a more exegetical and technical commentary in addition to this one, such as George Guthrie’s volume in BECNT (currently in pre-pub status on Logos, which means you can get it for cheaper than what the price will be once it’s fully funded).
It was just a mere months ago that I was a full print snob, including for commentaries. But I’ve come a long way recently in seeing the value of being able to access your books anywhere, especially commentaries and academic books. But there are many varieties of digital books; what makes Logos stand out? It is the power of a Logos library and the way all your resources are connected. I’ll admit that I can’t resist a good Kindle deal here and there, but for the most part I now try to keep my digital book purchases to Logos so that every new digital book purchase is added to the Logos system and increases the power of my library. If you own a resource that is referenced, you can either hover over the resource for which a pop-up of the cited text will display, or you can click on the resource which will open it in a new tab in Logos. Of course, the flip side is that if you buy a book in the future that references this commentary, you will be able to reap the benefits of being able to access the cited portions with two clicks.
In the screenshot below (click to enlarge the picture) I had clicked on footnote 15 and then clicked on 1 Clem. 47:1-7 within the footnote. You can see that Logos opened 1 Clem. 47 in a new tab. This feature is more valuable for academic books since they have way more footnotes and citations.
Of course, you might not be reading this commentary cover-to-cover or coming directly to a particular portion of the commentary. You might be studying a particular passage of 2 Corinthians using the “Passage Guide,” in which case this volume would show up in the “Commentaries” section. I think these are the two main features that would distinguish a Logos commentary from commentaries on other digital platforms. Watch the video below for some unique things you can do with Logos commentaries. You can also check out the video here for information specific to the Pillar New Testament Commentary series.
Thanks to Logos Bible Software for the review copy!