Craig S. Keener (InterVarsity Press,
A few hours with this volume will rapidly convince one that Craig Keener, an Assemblies
of God Theological Seminary alumnus and now professor of New Testament at Hood Theological
Seminary, Salisbury, North Carolina, is a rising star among evangelical New Testament
scholars. A unique and helpful tool, it earned Christianity Todays highest ranking
for any biblical studies entry in the 1995 Book Awards. Written simply and clearly, though
meticulously researched, this book will be a valuable acquisition for every thoughtful
student, pastor, and teacher who tries to understand the original setting for any passage
in the New Testament.
The Commentary begins with introductory sections explaining its nature and use. It is
not a classic exegetical commentary with extensive treatment of lexical, grammatical,
and literary matters. Rather, Keener concentrates on illuminating first-century life for
those of us who have neither the time, tools, nor inclination to become experts on the
biblical world. He begins each book of the New Testament with a brief, nontechnical introduction
identifying author, date, and setting and then moves, passage by passage, providing cultural,
social, and historical background useful for interpreting the text at hand. A glossary
of terms is at the end along with maps, chronologies, and other useful charts, all designed
for the nonspecialist.
To give some idea of the contents, Keener brings to life Pauls exhortations about
the Lords Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:1734 by showing how well-to-do Greco-Roman
patrons often seated their noble guests in the best room to be served the best food and
drink while the less fortunate, in plain view of the others, were seated in the large
atrium to receive, to their dismay and embarrassment, inferior food and drink. The prejudices
of society at large thus spilled over into the church causing anger and division. We have
here a gold mine of such information for every passage in the New Testament.
Obviously, in any resource of this size, there will be occasional differences of opinion.
However, the book is carefully researched and judiciously written from an orthodox Christian
perspective to provide dependable information without overt theological bias. I heartily
Reviewed by Edgar R. Lee, S.T.D., Assemblies
of God Theological Seminary and professor of practical theology, Springfield, Missouri.
This article was published in Enrichment,
Winter 1996. Used with Permission.