Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


A Letter from a Bible Student

posted by xscot mcknight

If this letter becomes as controversial as the letter on Monday then I’ll have to rethink my strategies!
Scot,
Hope you don’t mind this completely out of the blue email from a stranger, but I read Jesus Creed this last year and was really encouraged by what you had to write:
I am junior-year student from Multnomah Bible College in Portland, Oregon, and was wondering if you could recommend some commentaries on the Gospels and Acts… pretty, pretty, please? I don’t have many criterion, but I do have a few: I would like to avoid heavy Greek studies, “basic” or introductory works (700 page texts scare some, but not me!), and anything that is extensively secular.
Are there any in your library or that you have run across that are especially exceptional?

Dear Friend,
I get lots of letters out of the blue so no need to apologize.
Well, there are some exceptional ones and what I’ll do is mention two for each book, but I must admit this is hard because the best commentaries are nearly always rooted in the Greek text. And it is always good to read commentaries that differ with one another and, if possible, that differ with you so you can be challenged to think. I’m favoring here evangelical commentaries since you asked to avoid the “secular.” (I’ll not touch that word in this context, but it might be interesting for you to know that the approach of most commentaries is actually quite secular since they frequently do everything they can to bracket off faith assumptions and larger theological issues … but that’s for another day.)
Matthew
R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew
Craig Keener, Matthew
Mark
M.D. Hooker, Mark
R.T. France,
The Gospel of Mark [Though based on the Greek text, he doesn’t overdo it.]
B. Witherington, The Gospel of Mark
Luke
J.B. Green, The Gospel according to Luke
D. Bock, Luke [This is on the Greek text, but readable; it is two volumes and you can chase down volume 2.]
John
R.E. Brown, Gospel of John [I see this is 40 years old; it is long and involved with some complicated theories; it is still the best theological commentary on John’s ideas there is.]
D.A. Carson, Gospel of John [It is either this or Leon Morris or Carson’s student, Andreas Koestenberger.]
Acts
D. Bock, Acts [This is brand, spankin’ new.]
F.F. Bruce, Acts of the Apostles [I can’t mention Acts without mentioning FF Bruce, for I cut my teeth on Acts with Bruce. Again, Ben Witherington has a nice commentary on Acts, too.]
Hope this gets you started. If you read the footnotes and the commentary interactions, you’ll know what to read next.



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clearly

posted November 29, 2007 at 12:39 am


Scot,
What do you think of Homer Kent on Mark?



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Tyler Braun

posted November 29, 2007 at 1:15 am


Yay for Multnomah :)….seminary.



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brad

posted November 29, 2007 at 1:30 am


I’m pretty sure this one will not match the intensity of yesterday’s letter :) Bock’s commentary on Luke is probably my favorite of all the commentaries I own.



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Jake

posted November 29, 2007 at 2:17 am


How dare you bring up this topic, Scot! I’ve never been so outraged!! Just see if I ever come back here. :)



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Patrick

posted November 29, 2007 at 2:19 am


How about Andrew Lincoln on John? I haven’t read it yet, but I thought his “Truth on Trial” was excellent. I’ve also heard many good things about Frederick Dale Bruner’s 2-volume work on Matthew, for theology if not for all his exegesis …



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Jake

posted November 29, 2007 at 2:22 am


Witherinton’s commentary on Matthew is also very expensive.



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Brad Cooper

posted November 29, 2007 at 2:34 am


Thanks, Scot. I was hoping for some recommendations on Acts, but didn’t want to bother you. Not surprised by Bruce, though. I’m using his commentary on Galatians from the New International Greek Testament Commentary series and I’m loving it. (A great companion to Luther’s commentary.)
Blessings!



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Jake

posted November 29, 2007 at 4:06 am


There’s a guy named McKnight who wrote a commentary on Galatians. Might not be a great companion to Luther’s, however. But it’s better.



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Greg Laughery

posted November 29, 2007 at 4:37 am


Try Daniel Marguerat on Acts: The First Christian Historian, translated from the French by yours truly. While not a verse by verse commentary, this work is insightful. Marguerat takes a narrative approach. Splendid, for example, on Saul’s (Paul’s) three conversion stories in Acts 9, 22, 26 and other important matters.
IH Marshall on Acts is valuable, as is Jimmy Dunn.
Carson and Gundry on Matthew and the latter on Mark are worthwhile.



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jeremy bouma

posted November 29, 2007 at 6:07 am


I am a 1st year seminary student and have just begun to build my commentary library. Thankfully I’ve already knocked off some of these that Scot’s recommended: RT France (Matt), RT France (Mark), and Green (Luke). I especially like the RT France one’s. And what’s doubly nice is that I am going to seminary in Grand Rapids, so I’m right near the Eedmans discount bookstore…woo hoo!
Also, Scot, did you know Eerdman’s is apparently replacing/updating the FF Bruce Acts with one by Green? Do you think that will be a good replacement, since he did the luke one, too?
thanks for the recommendations!
-jeremy



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2007 at 6:35 am


clearly,
I’ve not dipped into Homer Kent’s commentary in years.
Patrick,
Sorry, but I haven’t seen Andrew Lincoln’s work on John, but he’s a very careful scholar.
I found Bruner’s commentary on Matthew, when I was doing lots of work in Matthew, overcome by his organization. Sorry.
Greg,
Haven’t seen Marguerat on Acts. I used his stuff on Matthew during my dissertation and have seen some of his stuff since then. Good to know of this one.
Yes, Marshall and Dunn are good; I almost mentioned Dunn but wasn’t sure it was readily available over here.
Gundry’s stuff is a bit unwieldy for college students, don’t you think?
Jeremy,
Yes, I knew Joel was updating the Bruce commentary on Acts. Joel’s approach is more literary/social and theological while Bruce is much more strictly historical. I’m looking forward to Joel’s work on Acts.



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Diane

posted November 29, 2007 at 7:14 am


Daniel Berrigan’s 1991
“Whereon to Stand: The Acts of the Apostles and Ourselves.”
You have to wade through some liberation theology and commentary on the late 1980s political scene in Latin America, but a lyrical book for opening up Acts and making it relevant … a book by a writer who loves Acts and brings it alive. You many not agree with B’s politics, but the book radiates with the author’s passion for Christ and his kingdom. I remember Berrigan writing about how Acts doesn’t end with any neat wrap-up, it just stops, inviting all of our “acts” to be part of the story.



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Glenn

posted November 29, 2007 at 8:29 am


Any thoughts on Keener’s commentary on John? I see his commentary on Matthew is recommended and is excellent.



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MatthewS

posted November 29, 2007 at 8:59 am


Scot,
In the line of the Word commentaries or the New Internation Greek Testament Commentaries – would you recommend either of those, or is there a different series you would recommend?



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John W Frye

posted November 29, 2007 at 9:10 am


Scot,
What are your thoughts on William Lane’s NICNT Commentary on Mark’s Gospel?
I recently got RT France’s Commentary of Matthew. I’m with Jeremy Bouma, I am so pleased to have it.
Who do you think does best on Luke-Acts? D Bock?



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Brian

posted November 29, 2007 at 9:39 am


Scot and others,
I am curious what you make of Hauerwas’ commentary on Matthew?
Regarding Mark, there is always Francis Maloney’s commentary on Mark from Hendrickson, both the big one (The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary) and the less technical one (Mark: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist).
As for M. Hooker’s expensive commentary on Mark from Continuum, is this the same edition as her volume in the Black’s NT series? If so, the price tag seems a bit odd.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2007 at 9:42 am


John,
Lane is now dated, but still very useful.
Luke-Acts — I go first always to Fitzmyer, but he’s more for those who can deal with the languages. (He’s got Anchor Bible commentaries on both books.)
Brian,
Yes, same commentary.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2007 at 9:45 am


Matthew,
On a series … they vary from book to book. Some are determined to buy one series, use that as the staple commentary in their library, and then buy more specific one for specific issues.
My theory … buy the best ones and the ones you need and will use, regardless of the series.



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discokvn

posted November 29, 2007 at 9:49 am


surprised you didn’t mention E.F. Hutton’s (D. A. Carson) commentary on Matthew… also Lane and Marshall on Luke are good works… and the Ancient Christian Commentary series i find a useful reference… oh and Ridderbos on John i often look to…
but for what it’s worth, i hate the word series because the layout is a frustration and a half. all those bracket braces and parentheses, “ahhh, where does it pick up??? guys ever heard of footnotes?”



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2007 at 9:58 am


Brian,
On the Brazos series … I enjoy this but I think they are hard to use for the preaching pastor (so it would seem to me). They aren’t so much to be consulted as to absorb and rethink how to think about the book. My take is that most pastors work through commentaries as they prepare sermons, not well in advance. I could be mistaken, and not all operate the same way.
discokvn,
I chose two per book; if not, it gets endless.



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Ted

posted November 29, 2007 at 10:17 am


Scot,
Thanks for this. Years ago doing my M.Div. work I asked three ministers whom I respected to give me two choices of commentaries for each book of the Bible. They did and as I was able I purchased from that list. As you know, I recently asked you in a private email for some suggestions. This young man is on the right track.
As for the “other” letter, I can identify with the young pastor’s concerns and think your counsel was good. I suppose if I classified myself as a Calvinist, I would be a bit defensive as some of those folk have been. However, I think all of us should be concerned when we quote our favorites more than we quote the Bible as we defend our theological positions.



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TDMiekley

posted November 29, 2007 at 10:27 am


Did you just offer a resource from D.A. what’s his name? WHOAH!!!



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Eric

posted November 29, 2007 at 10:57 am


Bock’s NIV Application Commentary on Luke isn’t bad. It’s a light on Greek exegesis. It was meant to be, but I’ve found it helpful in formulating applications for sermons. I guess that’s why they call it an Application Commentary.



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Erik Leafblad

posted November 29, 2007 at 11:10 am


Scot,
I would agree with you (#20) about pastors reading through commentaries to help them preach, and therefore likely avoid theologically exegetical works, like the new Brazos series. However, I find this detrimental. As a youth pastor, I try and spend time in these kinds of commentaries (from Barth’s Romerbrief, to Hauerwas to sections of Bonhoeffer) simply to help me encourage my students to enter the world of Scripture, rather than just come to know a specific interpretation. These types of commentaries help open up the Biblical narrative in a way other more “traditional” commentaries don’t.
Which is, by the way, not to say that more traditional commentaries (I’m not sure I like calling them that, but so be it), don’t also open up the biblical world, just differently. Of course, this could just be, as you say, a matter of different modes of operation. I wouldn’t, however, rule them out as something to suggest.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2007 at 11:26 am


Erik,
Good thoughts; thanks. The reading of such commentaries as Barth’s Romans and the Brazos series, then, is part of one’s theological reading and education rather than simple sermon preparation — and I wish more pastors would read such works.
If one were to read Hauerwas, to take but one example, before any sermon on planning one would approach the text from a fuller perspective.



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brian

posted November 29, 2007 at 12:07 pm


I’d like to second the motion on Craig Keener for John – especially for solid background info – a professor at the seminary I attended also said to get R. Brown on John as Scot has mentioned.
I’d also like to suggest Gary Burge’s NIVAC commentary on John – I have found it helpful as well.
I think a good combo for pastors is one (or two) strong critical work(s) and one (or two) strong pastoral work(s) to get a good blend for preaching and teaching,
I agree with a previous pastor that it is unfortunate that pastors mainly look for applications and don’t delve too much into theology – after all theology is to inform the applications. The more theologically and exegetically informed they are, the richer their preaching/teaching/ministry will be.



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sheryl

posted November 29, 2007 at 2:46 pm


Scot,
I like the way you approached the letter by adding your response with it.
Anything by Craig Keener is good. His JOHN commentary might be overly scholarly for the letter writer, but worth checking out eventually. I believe Keener did his dissertation on JOHN.
I like Witherington’s commentaries. He has a Socio-Rhetorical comm. on ACTS also. I.H. Marshall’s comm. on ACTS is a good one too.
I LOVE Green’s comm. on LUKE. I’ve consulted it A LOT.
What about Larry Hurtado’s brief commentary on MARK? It’s a part of the NIBC Series.
Jerome Neyrey has a worthy book, not so much a commentary, on Matthew, “Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew.”



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ryan

posted November 29, 2007 at 3:43 pm


I would pick up Blomberg on Matthew (NAC)



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Doug Wilson

posted November 29, 2007 at 4:08 pm


Scot: What a great set of recommendations. I would also commend Keener on John (and what do you think of Schnackenburg on John? — I actually prefer him to Raymond Brown), and a wonderful example of a thoughtful expository commentary, John Stott on Acts. Not a commentary, but filled with lucid insights into Luke-Acts is Max Turner’s Power from on High: The Spirit in Israel’s Restoration and Witness in Luke-Acts . Turner opens up the pneumatogical dimension of Luke-Acts more fully than Green or Bock.



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David Doyle

posted November 29, 2007 at 4:31 pm


I have to second the suggestion of Bruner’s 2 vol on Matthew. I first learned about it years ago as Eugene Peterson recommends it, but it was out of print. Recently Bruner has updated it to a 2nd version. I’ve been teaching a Bible Study in Matthew so I’ve had a chance to really use it. I’m incredibly impressed as Bruner has lived in Matthew so long that I might say he’s made it his native language. Not only that, he writes well!



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Mike

posted November 29, 2007 at 4:59 pm


Great recommendations, Scot. I don’t own Brown’s “John”, but having tried to browse it only to get absorbed by it (!), I would commend it to all. It overlaps, perhaps, with Barth’s Romans and the Brazos series. The Tyndale NT Series by IVP is reliable and perhaps is a “proto-Brazos” series. :)



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shane magee

posted November 29, 2007 at 6:52 pm


really interesting post guys. jimmy dunn is excellent on acts (as he is with all things pauline). and i couldn’t be without raymond brown on john. what about ched myers highly influential “binding the strongman” on mark (http://www.amazon.ca/Binding-Strong-Man-Political-Reading/dp/0883446200)?
read people you strongly disagree with alongside those “on your team” it really challenges me to get to grips with the text and wrestle with it.



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John Loose

posted November 29, 2007 at 9:04 pm


Scot, thanks so much for the recommendations. I knew coming in that in avoiding the “secular” or Heavy Greek works I’d probably be avoiding some good, scholarly, and mentally expanding texts, but my main intentions were to avoid works that I would be unable to apply to my (spiritual) life, relate to, or share in the lives of those I work with (high schoolers).
Thank you again!



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Brad Cooper

posted November 29, 2007 at 10:30 pm


Scot Re: Jake #8,
Forgot about your commentary on Galatians. Sorry. No offense was intended. I had Bruce’s from college and inherited Luther’s from my grandfather.
I actually seriously considered buying your commentary, but I’ve had an increasing interest in the last 2 years in William Ramsay’s works on Paul and Luke….So his Historical Commentary on Galatians nudged yours out (due to the fact that my budget only allowed for one more commentary and since I already have at least 10 covering Galatians, I decided I really didn’t need anymore).
Thanks again for the recommendations and for initiating this interesting and helpful discussion. Peace.



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Ben

posted November 30, 2007 at 1:45 am


I noticed you had Witherington on Mark. What are your thoughts about his commentary on Acts?



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Scot McKnight

posted November 30, 2007 at 7:06 am


Ben #35,
Ben Witherington is one of the premier commentators of our day, now having done a commentary on most books of the NT. His strengths are in the direction of rhetorical flow of texts and of getting down to issues that matter. Acts is the same way.



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Greg Drummond

posted November 30, 2007 at 8:50 am


Though not a commentary per se…
I have really appreciated John Pollock’s works The Master: A Life of Jesus, and The Apostle: A Life of Paul. Pollock is a biographer who has written biography’s for Billy Graham, D.L. Moody and others. Both the Master and the Apostle are written in narrative form. The Master follows much of the Gospel of John, while The Apostle follows Acts and incorporates Paul’s letters.



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tim atwater

posted November 30, 2007 at 12:25 pm


Amen on Ray Brown and John and Joel Green and Luke (v happy to hear he’s doing Acts too, as he says up front its one story…)
I like Scot’s emph on get the one you’ll use, and if possible get one that’s got a different take to compare.
I also like the v short Abingdom commentaries on Luke by Robt Tannehill (much easier to read than his great but difficult Narrative Unity of Luke Acts) and
John by Alan Culpepper, which needs Brown as foregrounding.
Has anyone read Jaroslav Pelikan’s recent theological commentary on Acts? heard a good short review somewhere…
grace,



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Ron Fay

posted November 30, 2007 at 2:37 pm


I was going to immediately mention Fitzmyer, so I am glad Scot did. Withington’s best two commentaries are, IMO, Acts and the Corinthian correspondence (though I do not have his Galatians).
Scot,
I am looking for some technical works on Matthew (my weakest gospel), particularly on his use of the OT (MT vs LXX, etc). Any recommendations? I am looking to possibly write an article, so do not hesitate to mention foreign language works (except Italian, I do not read Italian).



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Erik Leafblad

posted November 30, 2007 at 4:22 pm


Pelikan’s Acts commentary is fantastic, rooted in historical theology, as one would expect. This is part of the Brazos Commentary series mentioned before, and I would highly recommend this specific work.



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Daniel

posted November 30, 2007 at 5:26 pm


Scot,
You should keep this going. Recommend some commentaries on the rest of the NT.



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Jason Powell

posted December 1, 2007 at 9:40 am


Scot,
Any thoughts on N.T. Wrights “non-academic” commentaries? His “gospel for everyone” stuff? They are short, easy to read, and yet are quite insightful, I think



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tim atwater

posted December 1, 2007 at 12:43 pm


thanks Erik (40) and
second Daniel (41) — top two –five if possible — every book of the bible! (need not be at all at once of course)
on the point at the start about reading from angles less familiar for us — anybody reading African, African-American, Asian, Asian-American… Hispanic views on scripture interpretation — commentaries or otherwise?
a friend and former prof has recommended a biblical commentary anthology, True to Our Native Land, which follows Stony the Road… (Verses from Lift Every Voice)…
grace,



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Anonymous

posted December 1, 2007 at 2:41 pm


Random Acts of Linkage #37 : Subversive Influence

[…] Scot McKnight recommends commentaries on the gospels and Acts. I was pleased to see Brown on John still taking top honors from him… I’m not as fond of Morris on the Fourth Gospel; Bruce has a nice little commentary on it, but it’s too brief in my view. The three-volume work by Schnackenburg is well worth it, if only to intimidate people with it on your shelf, or if you can attribute some view to Rudolf Schnackenburg. It’s just fun to say. […]



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Bob Smallman

posted December 1, 2007 at 11:23 pm


Having finished my M.Div. in 1971, when about the only quality “evangelical” commentaries were the still incomplete New International Commentary and Tyndale series, my only addition to this discussion is that we are blessed with an incredible embarrassment of riches today! It’s a tribute to quality of Biblical scholars in the movement. Carl Henry, who often complained about the reprint mentality in the evangelicalism of the ’50s, is surely pleased!



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Brandon Rhodes

posted December 2, 2007 at 8:35 pm


Dear Letter’s Author,
I’m across the library from you at Multnomah Biblical Seminary, and I have to say, “what are you doing reading this emergent blog!! Don’t you know better. This is Multnomah, doggonit!” j/k :)
(for those who don’t know, Multnomah is historically a fundie hotbed)
I’d recommend N.T. Wright’s “Jesus and the Victory of God” for a stimulating overview of the synoptics in their historical context. Hefty at 660+ pages, but a great evangelical consideration of the historical Jesus.
42. — Wright’s “Luke for Everyone” is great… I’ve read most of his other scholastic stuff, including his big three, and what you’re getting in the “for everyone” series is all that heady stuff distilled (but not dumbed down) into accessible language. They’re neither tacky nor convoluted. And Bishop Tom’s love for God really shines through the pages!
Send me an email, Letter’s Author, and I’d love to meet up at the Horse Brass or Laughing Planet some time. :)
Cheers,
BDR



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Brandon Rhodes

posted December 2, 2007 at 8:40 pm


Follow up to my post (46) — realized you’d need my email addy…
brandon.d.rhodes “at” gmail “dot” com



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