I just spent a bundle of time with John H. Walton, who is the General Editor of a brand new series on the Old Testament, and it is a series we desperately need. This new series is a commentary unlike any commentary series ever because, instead of just being a commentary, it is a commentary only and specially-focused on historical background.
The only way I can put it is this: every church and every pastor and ever seminarian, especially those who are evangelical, will want this commentary series within arm’s reach on his or her desk. There is nothing like it — and we all know commentaries repeat one another endlessly — and this one doesn’t.
We have learned so much about the ancient world — the Ancient Near East — in the last fifty years, but more and more it has become increasingly difficult to keep all of this stuff in our heads or within memory’s reach. But that has now been partially resolved for us with this new series written by experts on these materials. It’s focus is on the backgrounds and historical contexts for each book of the Old Testament.
I won’t list all the authors so I will randomly select a few: John Walton does Genesis, Richard Hess does Joshua, Phil Long does 1 & 2 Samuel, Iaian Provan does 2 Kings, Ed Yamauchi does Ezra/Nehemiah, David Baker does Isaiah, Tremper Longman does Proverbs, Andrew Hill does Malachi … and I could mention more but don’t want to consume space here.
The production is incomparable: four color, charts, pictures, maps, … fantastic stuff. It’s delightful to the eye and beautifully produced for anyone who wants to know more about the historical settings of texts and the ancient Israelites. Even if you disagree with historical conclusions, the material presented is of value to anyone who reads the Bible in the ancient context.
Now a point that has to be made that says nothing about what I’ve already said, but it says something about what could have been said and what could have been seen in the Old Testament texts: there are no women authors in this Old Testament commentary set. None. Thirty-five separate commentaries, thirty-five males, no women. [Added in light of comments: which tells us more about the place of women in ANE scholarship in the past than now, and more about the possibilities of the editor then than now.]