Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Review of "A Commentary on Exodus" by Duane A. Garrett

I'll admit I'm biased. Since I first encountered Kregel Exegetical Library's Old Testament commentary set, I have liked them a lot. I am also biased toward Duane A. Garrett who I think is one of the best conservative OT scholars alive. So when I heard that the two had teamed up to write a commentary on Exodus (one of my favorite OT books), I was hooked. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I am going to go make a very bold statement up front: I think that Duane Garrett's commentary on Exodus is the best available conservative commentary on Exodus right now. 

Let's begin with the structure of the series. Each section of scripture is outlined in Hebrew with plenty of textual footnotes. Then, commentary is provided on the actual text. Finally, each section is recapped with a theological summary of the text. The typeset of the work is attractive and is altogether NOT like the WBC series which is a strain on the eyes.

On to the work itself. After an extended introduction (coming in at a whopping 150 pages), Garrett begins to dissect the text. I could cover a myriad of issues here but I will just give you one example where Garrett does a fine job with the text.

Exodus 4:18-26 is an extremely odd and baffling text. Why was God seeking to kill Moses? Why did Zipporah say, "You are my hatan damim?" There is unquestionably a lot going on here. Garrett devotes 12 pages to this issue. He (rightly) points out that the Hebrew does not specify that God was seeking to kill Moses but rather "him." He further points out that damim has nothing to do with murder but simply blood ritual in circumcision. To summarize, Garrett states, "We might, therefore, suggest the following reconstruction of the story behind this text. Moses and Zipporah set out for Egypt. Along the way, their son suddely became deathly ill. Zipporah recognized that the boy needed to be circumcised, and she did the act with a flint knife...After the removal of the foreskin, she ritually touched the boy's feet (or genitals) with her hand or the flint while saying, 'You are hatan damim to me' (a member of my community by virtue of the blood of circumcision." (pg. 230)

How one might apply this text in preaching is probably even more baffling. Thankfully, Garrett gives us a way forward in his theological summary section by connecting it to Christ (no weird typology here) and to spiritual wisdom and being a part of God's people. There is nothing forced here (I won't give away how he connects these ideas together) and it really does give us a beautiful picture of Jesus.

Overall, I cannot recommend this commentary enough. It is worth the price and is a fine commentary and the best conservative commentary on Exodus.

*Thanks to Kregal publishing for providing a free review copy of this work in exchange for a fair review*

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