Mastering The Basics: Ephesians, by Lyman Coleman and Richard Peace
As I have quite a strong interest in the book of Ephesians , I was interested in reading yet another biblical commentary that serves to encourage people to study the Bible. It is striking, and perhaps to be expected, that these guides are far more common for the New Testament than for the Hebrew scriptures that serve as the base and context of genuine biblical faith, but given that there is far more supposed knowledge about the New Testament than about the Old Testament, it is so be expected that the books available are somewhat skewed in those directions as they are. This book showed a consistent format that the other three books available to me in the series had, and any book that is able to show consistency has at least some virtue in its favor. The authors as well, it should be noted, had some worthwhile comments to make about Ephesians and its provenance and appeared to take the book seriously enough, at any rate, to make it a worthwhile study even though many authors (and these authors are no exception) have no idea what to make of the biblical view of God’s laws. That, unfortunately, must detract at least a little bit from the enjoyment of this series of books.
In terms of its contents, this book shares with the others in the series a plan for covering the book in a certain number of weeks (7 in this case), along with pages showing the contributors (but, annoyingly enough, not ISBN information), along with a nice picture of people in a Bible study with a quotation from 2 Timothy 3:16-17, along with a discussion of the three parts of the program–self study, group study, and expository teaching, along with a discussion containing questions in these three areas. After that the book takes its own path, with an introduction to the book itself and the authors’ theories that it was written as the more general expansion of the specific issues addressed in Colossians, and divided as is typical in Paul’s work into a first section on ethics and a section section on practice. The book then contains the various units the book is divided into with the text, study, group agenda, notes, and comments (which sometimes include external text brought as a supplement), for readers to better understand the book as a whole. The result is a worthwhile and reasonably compact look at Ephesians as a whole.
This is not to say that the book, though, is perfect. There are two general criticisms that can be made about this book which apply to the series as a whole. For one, the authors use as their text the Alexandrian text base that can be found in New International Version. This defective text , which means that there are parts missing to this book that struck me as odd when I looked at it, wondering if the authors had missed something. They had, but by intent. Additionally, as noted previously, the authors themselves come from a defective antonimian perspective that colors their view of the Bible, but their look at Ephesians is less harmed by this than is usually the case, and makes more of the background in which the authors operate as part of their general rules. All things considered, this book has some worthwhile insights and makes some good theories as to when the book was written as well as its circumstances, and also gives a wise degree of caution to readers not to consider the books of the Bible themselves as being covered by the divine inspiration, given the way that letters were sent in the times of Paul. All in all, this is possibly the best volume of the set, for its imperfections.
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