Biblical Research & Education Resources

 Blaine Robison, M.A., M.R.E.

 

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Commentary Writing Philosophy

Published 9 April 2014; Revised 25 September 2016

Introduction

My commentary writing began in 1995 as a result of teaching a Bible study on the book of Revelation. I decided to supplement the printed lessons with notes on the original Greek for the class to use during the week. The research that began then turned into a long journey of biblical discovery, and I published the first edition of my Revelation commentary in 2002. Once started I was hooked. I enjoyed the discovery of using the language resources of my library to understand Bible words. As of this date I have written several commentaries on books of the Bible and they are offered free of charge on this website to be a resource for the Body of Messiah.

Guiding Principles

Study Commentary. My commentaries on Scripture are prepared for those who have a serious interest in studying Godís Word, particularly those who teach the Bible, whether lay persons or clergy. Commentary exegesis focuses on the details of each verse instead of just considering broad themes. My commentaries are not written for devotional purposes, but with study, the reader will find that the commentaries provide grist for meditation and reflection.

Scholarly Research. The Word of God is a rich treasure trove that does not yield all its delights in one period of study or to one author. My commentaries incorporate the results of investigating the wealth of information and interpretation published and preserved by dedicated scholars, both ancient and modern, Jewish and Christian. References cited from verse-by-verse commentaries are given ad locum ("at the place") without page numbers.

Jewish Roots. When I first began serious commentary writing I discovered to my delight the Jewishness of the New Testament and the Greek text. This understanding was greatly aided by the purchase of David Stern's seminal work Jewish New Testament Commentary (1992, 1996). I also discovered to my great disappointment that published Christian commentaries (including those sitting on my bookshelf) generally ignore the Jewish roots of the New Testament. Those same scholarly works also ignore Messianic Jewish commentators. The New Testament is a Jewish book written about Jews by Jews for Jews and Gentiles. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.

Textual Exegesis and Exposition. Passage comments begin with a careful analysis of the Greek and Hebrew textual evidence. Academic terminology has been minimized and straightforward comments have been provided on the verses. The reader does not need to know Greek or Hebrew to make use of the information. The commentaries also frequently offer an observation on the meaning and relevance of the passage for today.

Literal Interpretation. Commentary exposition is also based on the premise that the plain, straightforward, sense of the text should guide interpretation (cf. Proverbs 8:8-9). To accomplish this goal involves giving due consideration to the context of the passage, as well as every significant word in the Scripture text. Where there is fog the basic rule of "Scripture interprets Scripture" is the most frequent arbiter of meaning.

Theological Viewpoint. (See my Statement of Personal Faith.) While my theological background is Wesleyan-Arminian, my commentary writing is not concerned with advancing that point of view or to validate some Christian theologian's philosophy. Theological exegesis is a form of prooftexting. My purpose is to communicate the meaning of Scripture in its original cultural context. Moreover, my commentary work is not democratic and does not give equal time to competing interpretations. In the end, the reader has the right to judge whether the Scriptures have been treated accurately (1 Corinthians 14:29).

Methodology

In researching scholarly sources I have found that other commentators sometimes fail to reference their sources for quotations. A point of integrity for me is identifying to the reader my sources, and so I endeavor to identify all my sources using parenthetical citations and a Works Cited list, in accordance with Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Many ancient works, commentaries and linguistic aids are now available on the Internet, so wherever possible my sources are hyperlinked.

Grammar: Several linguistic resources are used for definitions of Bible words. Generally the meaning of Greek words is taken from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). The meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB," found online at BibleHub.com. Hebrew translation of Greek words is generally taken from Franz Delitzsch, Hebrew New Testament. See the web article Hebrew Versions of the Besekh. Spelling of Greek and Hebrew words is based on the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1998). Explanation of Greek grammar and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here. Grammatical data for Greek words is from Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (1976) and for Hebrew words is from John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament (1989).

Jewish Literature: The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here. The Targums are interpretive renderings of Hebrew Scriptures into Aramaic. Written Targumic texts are dated as early as the first century, but reflect Jewish interpretation much earlier. They can be found online here and here. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); found at Halakhah.com.

Scripture Text: The Scripture text used for the commentaries varies, often my own, but in some cases New American Standard Bible Updated Edition (1995) or the Tree of Life Version. The Scripture text is provided merely as a convenience for the reader, because copyright restrictions determine the amount of quoted Scripture that can be used from a Bible version. The commentary will state the source of the Scripture text.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic writings and message I use the terms Adonai (for the tetragrammaton YHVH, "LORD"), Torah (Law) Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (a term I coined for the New Testament) and incorporate other appropriate Hebrew and Jewish terms. (See Hebrew Glossary.) My commentaries contain the Name of God. If you print any pages, please treat them with appropriate respect.

Dating: In articles and Bible commentary I use the B.C./A.D. convention for dates. B.C. stands for "Before Christ" and A.D. stands for the Latin Anno Domini, "In the Year of Our Lord." The B.C.E./C.E. convention was introduced by Jewish academics as an alternative to the Christian manner of dating and is widely used in academic circles and scholarly works. In that system B.C.E. stands for "Before Common Era" and C.E. stands for "Common Era." Since history is really His-Story then using B.C. for "Before Christ" is entirely appropriate. "Christ," which means "Messiah," is a Jewish word and since the beginning God planned to bring Israel's Messiah. Designating time since the nativity of Yeshua as "A.D." is also appropriate to acknowledge that he is King of the Jews and Lord of all.

Abbreviations

For brevity sake my commentary writing incorporates many abbreviations and acronyms, which can not always be explained within verse commentary. Below are explanatory lists of abbreviations used in my commentaries.

Abbreviations: Various web pages have been created to explain abbreviations.
Abbreviations of Bible Versions
Talmud Abbreviations
General Abbreviations - common literary abbreviations, books of the Bible and other Jewish literature.

Greek Grammatical Abbreviations. Generally Greek words are given as they appear in the lexicon with abbreviations used for the grammatical form (called "parsing").

Strong's References: Strong's reference numbers are identified with "SH" for Hebrew and "SG" for Greek.

Publication

Sometimes friends will suggest that my commentaries be published (in print form), not considering that their presence on my website constitutes publication. There are several reasons why I haven't made the effort to seek print publication.

First, print publication is a lengthy and complicated process of finding a willing publisher with whom I'm comfortable, submission of manuscripts, approval, editing, obtaining endorsements, printing and then marketing at an affordable price. I tried self-publishing once and lost money. Remember, publishers, too, have a profit motive, and scholarly commentaries such as I write are not inexpensive.

Second, web publishing means full editorial control. My commentaries are not subject to the viewpoints or requirements of religious publishing houses that can affect content.

Third, my commentaries are in a dynamic state. That is, they have an original publication date and then often a revision date. I am constantly making changes, corrections and adding new information and insights to my commentaries. I couldn't do that with a printed book.

Fourth, fewer and fewer people are buying printed books. The advent of electronic devices for reading has revolutionized the publication industry. In a way, my web commentaries are a part of that market, and they may be read by anyone at any time with access to the Internet.

Fifth, my commentaries are provided free-of-charge to the public. I consider this approach as part of my ministry to the Body of Messiah. All I ask is that if readers make use of my material that they give due credit. Donations are gladly accepted. (See my website Terms of Use.)

Copyright © 2014-2016 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.