Galatians: misc. study resources (2)

 

Yesterday I pointed out a way you can access some of the material in high-quality study aids without having to purchase them. Of course, if you want to get your chest waders on and truly wade out into the Galatian pond, you’ll want to make some wise acquisitions for your study library.

If you’re the average Joe or Suzie, you can’t go wrong in acquiring a copy of Tom Wright’s devotional commentary entitled: Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004). While being quite readable and accessible, it’s based on solid scholarship. Since it’s not a verse-by-verse commentary, it won’t give you details, but it will provide you with the text of the KNT and will enable you to closely follow Paul’s flow of (sometimes convoluted) thought in Galatians. No matter who you are, if you’re studying Galatians, you’ll want this one on your shelf.

If you want to acquire a verse-by-verse commentary on Galatians, I’d choose Witherington’s Grace in Galatia. Witherington explore every nook and cranny in Paul’s letter while conversing with current scholarship at every hand. Witherington, like Wright, possess that all too rare ability to explain the complex in simple terms which makes all of his work, compared to much of the academic field, a joy to engage.

Teachers and preachers will likely want a copy of John R.W. Stott’s The Message of Galatians nearby. Stott’s ability to see threads of thought and to word things in memorable ways was well known. Though his work on Galatians was first published well over forty years ago (1968), it’s still brimming full of relevant observation. The wise leader will definitely want to have Stott whispering in their ear as they construct their message. If Stott is not available to you, I’d say consult Charles Cousar and his work in the Interpretation series.

If you’ll be leading discussion on Galatians in either a class or small group setting, you might want to pick up a copy of the study guide that complements N.T. Wright’s devotional commentary. Max Lucado’s Life Lessons’ guide on Galatians is also helpful, being a bit more “broad” in terms of the questions it offers. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the guide by Wright (which was co-authored by Dale & Sandy Larsen) simply because it dovetails well with the rest of Wright’s outstanding material on Galatians.

Galatians: misc. study resources (1)

 

As we begin our journey through Galatians, let me offer a few suggestions as to study resources. I’ll limit myself here to brief comments on English translations of Galatians and some quality commentary that is available online at no charge. I’ll comment tomorrow on my favorite commentaries and other helps to consider purchasing.

Obviously, anytime we’re studying the Bible, there’s simply no substitute for becoming extremely familiar with the Bible passage at hand. So read the text, read the text, and then, having read the text, read the text. And so, as we delve into Galatians, determine to saturate yourself with this letter. Read it repeatedly. Read it in different English translations, particularly the NRSV, NIV 2011, CEB, and the KNT (Kingdom New Testament). To a lesser degree, take note of the renderings by J.B. Phillips, the CEV, and The Message. With the exception of the NRSV and the KNT (by N.T. Wright), you’ll find all of these available online at my go-to site of choice for online Bible reading: BibleGateway. As for the NRSV, you can access it on Oremus, but you’ll need to pick up either a printed copy or an e-book edition of the KNT if you want to make use of it (a shame, for the KNT is my hands-down favorite rendering of Galatians). I will say you can read the first two chapters of Galatians in the KNT on HarperCollins’ site.

We always do well to seek truly informed, quality counsel in all areas of life, but this is especially in regard to our understanding of the Scripture. Few of us have the luxury of having the benefit of counsel on a face-to-face basis whenever we want it. But a great many of us can access the distilled work of many who have spent huge chunks of their focused on Galatians by consulting quality commentaries on that letter. However, quality material comes with a price tag and our funds are likely limited. What to do then?

One avenue is to consult the previews of such commentaries that are available online. Google Books is a resource you should be aware of in this regard not only when you’re studying Galatians, but any Biblical book or topic. While Google Books will very rarely reveal all of a book to you to read online for free, it will typically reveal a great deal; far more than the preview available via most other sources. If you don’t want to, or simply can’t, spend much money on quality counsel, but you still would like to peek inside some of the fine works available on Galatians, this is the tool for you!

With that in mind, following are links to several quality works or commentaries on Galatians that are partially available for viewing via Google Books. I’ve listed them here generally in the order of increasing depth and/or complexity.

Galatians: Why God Accepts Us by Jack Kuhatschek (discussion guide)

Galatians by G. Walter Hansen (part of the IVP NT commentary series)

Understanding Galatians by L. Ann Jervis

Galatians by Frank Matera (a part of the Sacra Pagina series)

The Epistle to the Galatians by Ronald Y.K. Fung (part of the NICNT series)

Galatians, Ephesians & Philippians edited by Mark J. Edwards (part of the Ancient Christian Commentary series)

A Critical & Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians by Ernest De Witt Burton (part of the old ICC series)

A final note. A.T. Robertson was one of the finest Greek scholars of the New Testament during the latter part of the nineteenth and the early third of the twentieth century. Among his many works is a multi-volume set entitled Word Pictures of the New Testament (WPNT). Yes, much of it you’ll say, “This Greek to me,”  so do as I do, “read around it” when you must. Still, in doing so, you’ll profit much from the experience. As an example, read Robertson’s comments on Galatians 3.1.

The complete text of WPNT is available for online reading at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (www.ccel.org). Following are the links to the six chapter of Galatians as discussed in WPNT.

Chapter one

Chapter two

Chapter three

Chapter four

Chapter five

Chapter six

10 of my favorite “newer” NT commentaries

10. The Letters to the Thessalonians (AB) by Abraham J. Malherbe

9. Letters and Homilies for Jewish Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Hebrews, James and Jude by Ben Witherington

8. Revelation (NCB) by Ben Witherington

7. Colossians: A Commentary (NTL) by Jerry L. Sumney

6. Ephesians and Colossians (Paideia) by Charles H. Talbert

5. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament Quotations – G.K. Beale & D.A. Carson, editors

4. Mark (SHBC) by R. Alan Culpepper

3. 1 Peter (BECNT) by Karen H. Jobes

2. Stories With Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus by Kyle R. Snodgrass

1. The Transforming Word – Mark W. Hamilton, general editor

10 of my favorite “older” NT commentaries

10. The Book of the Acts (NICNT) by F.F. Bruce

9. The Revelation of St. John the Divine (HNT) by G.B. Caird

8. James (BST) by Alec Motyer

7. Luke (Interpretation) by Fred Craddock

6. John (WBC) by George R. Beasley-Murray

5. The Gospel According to John (NICNT) by Leon Morris

4. The Gospel of Mark (NICNT) by William L. Lane

3Mark (Interpretation) by Lamar Williamson, Jr.

2. Romans: God’s Good News for the World by John Stott

1. The Christbook: Matthew 1-12 (vol. 1) and The Churchbook: Matthew 13-28 (vol. 2) by F.D. Bruner