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see what select contributors have to say about their work on the Fortress Commentary on the Bible!

See what select contributors have to say about their work on the Fortress Commentary on the Bible!

The Old Testament and Apocrypha

Carole Fontaine, Andover Newton Theological School
Author of Proverbs

Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.
A: The Fortress Commentary on the Bible is special because it aims to distil the insights of expert scholarship and commentary, new methods, and attention to context of texts, all while producing a volume accessible to believers, students, general audiences, or members of other global faiths. It does not shy away from tracing the reception and impact of the text through time and region, into the issues of the day. In this way, the remarkable fluidity of the biblical tradition is shown to be an enduring piece of its vitality and relevance.

Q: Name one or two things you hope students and others will take away from their study of your article on Proverbs.
A: This multi-versioned study of Proverbs and the forms they used allows students to enter into the biblical worldview at the level of everyday commonsense and ethics, discovering that the proverbial literature of the developing world shows many of the same traits of style or commonalities of content. This 'text-reception' sensitivity to the biblical text also underlines the places where the Bible does not differ from surrounding cultures—even some today—for good or ill. The role of women as mothers who are authorities for the wisdom of the household is validated in Proverbs—along with a totally male-biased understanding of female abilities and destiny. Though authorship of Proverbs is attributed to the elites of ancient Israel, this study shows that the book contains a deep strand of concern for the poor, ethical treatment for all, and reflection on the principles of just and merciful governance as a key to successful kingship.

Q: In what ways do you envision this commentary being used?
A: I envision this work becoming a genuine 'go-to' resource for religious leaders of all kinds, as well as interested parties whose work includes dealing with the impact of religion and scriptures in a global setting where interreligious violence and environmental change are often major forces impeding positive change and adaptation. Seminarians and college students will also find this an essential resource for studying how theologians handle biblical texts, especially over time and changes in understanding of the basic nature of Scripture.  

Daniel Smith-Christopher, Loyola Marymount University           
Author of Reading the Christian Old Testament in the Contemporary World

Q: Name one or two things you hope students and others will take away from their study of your article on Reading the Christian Old Testament in the Contemporary World.
A: I hope that readers come away with a profound sense of hope and excitement about the present discussions in Biblical Studies, and especially Old Testament studies.  I am especially hopeful, however, that they will feel invited to the marketplace to wander and explore, and participate, in this foundationally important discussion and debate surrounding what is arguably one of the most important books in human history. It is a tremendously enlivening time to be doing Biblical Studies, and if readers capture just a glimpse of this, then the essay succeeded. Dare I even hope that some will come away from their reading of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible with a new commitment to thinking seriously about the Bible—and perhaps engaging in more serious study and engagement with others who also take it seriously?

Marvin A. Sweeny, Claremont School of Theology
Author of Isaiah

Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.
A: The most distinctive feature of the Fortress commentary is its focus on reception history, i.e., how texts functioned in the later religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as in the general cultural world in which the Bible is read.

Q: Name one or two things you hope students and others will take away from their study of your article on Isaiah.
A: I hope that students will understand that Isaiah functions as sacred Scripture within Judaism with its own unique sets of concerns. I hope that students will also see that Isaiah still needs to be read today for the wisdom it offers to religious communities as well as to the broader social and political world.

Q: In what ways do you envision this commentary being used?
A: I anticipate that it will be read by clergy who are writing sermons and by students and other interested parties who want to learn something about the Bible in general and Isaiah in particular.

Timothy J. Sandoval, Brite Divinity School
Author of Wisdom and Worship

Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.
A: Distinctive is its concern to link the study of the Bible in its ancient contexts with the reception of the Bible in other contexts.


Q: Name one or two things you hope students and others will take away from their study of your article on Wisdom and Worship
A: The “thought” of biblical wisdom literature is not so distinct from other strands of biblical thinking and is still useful today.

Q: In what ways do you envision this commentary being used?
A: By students, but especially pastors and educated lay people who want a reliable way to ‘get up to speed’ on areas of biblical studies that perhaps they have forgotten about, or never knew.

Victor H. Matthews, Missouri State University
Author of Judges
Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.
A: The combination of a careful attention to the text, gender-related issues, and reception history make it a unique tool.


Q: Name one or two things you hope students and others will take away from their study of your article on Judges.
A: Students should (1) recognize the richness of the storytelling in the Judges narrative and thus its entertainment and pedagogic value to the audience, and (2) the earthiness of the traditional society that produced these tales.

Q: In what ways do you envision this commentary being used?
A: Obviously, it will be a reference work for individual study, course work in exegesis, and for the construction of lectures and sermons.

Sarah Shectman, Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, Society series
Author of Themes and Perspectives in Torah

Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.
A: The balance of historical-critical scholarship with approaches to contemporary issues is probably the thing that most makes this commentary stand out in my mind. I also like the structure, with introductory and general essays along with commentary on the individual books—in my mind, that draws on the strengths of a good study Bible but without the bulk of the entire biblical text being included.


Q: Name one or two things you hope students and others will take away from their study of your article on Themes and Perspectives in Torah.
A: I hope that my article on themes and perspectives in Torah will make clear to students that the book is a diverse collection of material that nevertheless works as a whole because it is unified by several larger themes. 

Q: In what ways do you envision this commentary being used?
A: This commentary seems very well suited to introductory Bible courses for undergraduate and seminary students. I think it will be especially useful for seminary students on a clerical track, who need a rigorous and historically grounded introduction to the Bible but who are always concerned with how they will be able to make the biblical text relevant to their future parishioners.

Pekka Pitkänen, University of Gloucestershire
Author of Joshua

Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.
A: I think the approach to the text from a postmodern and postcolonial perspective, yet at the same time from a perspective that is supportive of potential confessional readings of the bible.


Q: Name one or two things you hope students and others will take away from their study of your article on Joshua.
A: I think it is important to look at the book in the context of both (reconstructed) ancient and modern settings, and to also try to see interconnections between these two settings (in this, I feel that interconnections can be of the nature of both continuities and discontinuities).

Q: In what ways do you envision this commentary being used?
A: I would hope it to be a quick reference point to main issues in interpreting Joshua, also providing pointers towards further research on the ancient context(s) of the book and towards further reflection on applying the book in modern contexts, whether “religious” or “secular”.

The New Testament

David A. deSilva, Ashland Theological Seminary
Author of Hebrews

Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.
A: The consistent attention to the history of interpretation and to the intersection of the text with contemporary issues set this commentary apart from its peers. The text is presented as a living conversation partner with the community of faith throughout time, extending into the contemporary context.

Q: Name one or two things you hope students and others will take away from their study of your article on Hebrews.
A: An appreciation of the importance of reading a text in light of the social and cultural ethos of its author’s and original audience’s environment, since this often helps us wrestle more reliably with the theological and ethical challenges in the text. An appreciation for the homiletical artistry of the first-century pastor who crafted this sermon.

Q: In what ways do you envision this commentary being used?
A: This commentary is an ideal starting place to begin one’s study of a particular book of the Bible, as it will quickly orient the readers to the primary issues in interpretation both in the ancient setting and in the ongoing life of the text.

Kwok Pui Lan, Episcopal Divinity School
Author of Reading the New Testament in the Contemporary World

Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.
A: This commentary treats the Bible as a living tradition and presents both historical and contemporary interpretations of the books of the Bible. Written by well-known scholars in accessible language, the commentary can be used by individuals for private studies and as supplementary text in courses on the Bible.

Q: Name one or two things you hope students and others will take away from their study of your article on Reading the New Testament in the Contemporary World.
A: I hope students can learn to read the New Testament cross-culturally after reading my article. They will be exposed to biblical interpretation from the Global South.

Lawrence M. Wills, Episcopal Divinity School
Author of Negotiating the Jewish Heritage of Early Christianity

Q: Please comment on what you think is the most distinctive aspect of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible.
A: The
Fortress Commentary on the Bible is intended to provide the engaged Bible reader with many answers, but it is also designed to provide questions. Uncertainties about the text in its original setting, important differences in the way the text has been interpreted over the centuries, and alternative options for the way a text might be interpreted today all combine to challenge the reader with new questions. Interpretation is a dialogue with ancient texts, with the tradition, and with other living readers, and this commentary is intended as a “conversation starter.” The person who comes to this commentary will find that different meanings and interpretations have been part of the tradition from the beginning, and that this will enrich an appreciation for the breadth and depth of the Bible.