Duane A. Garrett is an Old Testament scholar who currently teaches at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s well respected in his field and I’ve found several of his commentaries quite helpful, so I was excited to review his latest addition to the Kregel Exegetical Library, A Commentary on Exodus.
I have come to really appreciate the Kregel Exegetical Library commentaries. Those that I have used are full of detailed exegetical work that leads me to conclude that the contributing scholars are providing helpful resources for pastors and interested individuals, including other scholars. Garrett’s commentary on Exodus is no different: detailed, comprehensive, and enjoyable (reading wise).
Garrett views Exodus as an extremely important book in Scripture, which he articulates well when he writes:
“Exodus is the true beginning of the story of Israel. Genesis is essential to the story, but it is a prologue, describing the lives of individual patriarchs rather than the history of the people. With Exodus we begin the story of the national entity called Israel. Exodus is also where the reader comes to understand the nature of YHWH. He keeps his covenant to the patriarchs, he reveals himself as “I AM,” and he shows his power as the deliverer of his people, breaking the power of Egypt in the plagues. Exodus contains the initiation of the Sinai covenant, the governing document in the relationship between YHWH and Israel. With that, the nation receives the first presentation of the laws, statutes, and ordinances that were to be normative for every aspect of Israelite life. Finally, Exodus includes the establishment of the fundamental institutions of Israelite worship, the Aaronic priesthood and the central shrine. In short, Exodus is the beginning of everything that is distinctively Israelite, and it is the fountainhead of most of the literature of the Old Testament that follows, including the rest of Torah, all of the Prophets, and a good deal of the Writings” (p.15).
One might push back on the notion that the story of Israel begins in Exodus and not Abraham (which I would), but his point is well taken. Biblical theologians will likely naturally gravitate toward the importance of Exodus and the entire exile narrative when constructing a “big picture” story of redemption. Garrett’s commentary will support one’s attempt to put a biblical theology together because it does an excellent job of tracing the story-line of Exodus and God’s dealing with Israel (and, obviously, Egypt).
Garrett’s commentary is squarely conservative Evangelical. The authority of Scripture is understood in terms familiar with that tradition, though Garrett does not avoid difficult textual issues, which he is to be commended for.
Regarding the content of the commentary, one area that I found highly interesting was the author’s views concerning the ten plagues and whether or not they were judgments upon the Egyptian gods, a concept popular to preachers. Garrett’s suggestion is that they are not to be understood in that way and his evidence is significant.
All in all, A Commentary on Exodus is very good. It will likely be the first commentary that I turn to when I am studying the second book of the Bible!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review*