A team of six scholar editors and seventy contributors provide clear and concise commentary on key sense units in each book of the Old Testament, Apocrypha, and New Testament. Each unit is explored through the lenses of three levels of commentary based on these critical questions. The result is a commentary that is comprehensive and useful for gaining insights on the texts for preaching, teaching, and research.
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Fortress Commentary on the Bible
Examining ancient contexts • Interpretive tradition • Contemporary questions
Featuring the work of over seventy-five top biblical scholars, the commentary presents a balanced synthesis of current scholarship, enabling readers to interpret Scripture for a complex and pluralistic world. The volumes balance attention to ancient biblical contexts with attention to contemporary challenges and to the ethics of responsible interpretation.
Each volume contains introductory essays that address the general challenges that constitute the ethical and theological agenda for interpreting the Old or New Testament in the twenty-first century. Section introductions address questions of historical origin and context at the center of scholarship on each section of the Bible.
Commentary entries are provided for every book in the Old Testament, Apocrypha, and New Testament. Each entry includes a brief introduction to the book, notes for “sense units,” and a list of works cited. A unique feature of the commentary is the way every sense unit is addressed on three levels:
1. The Text in Its Ancient Context. What did the text probably mean in its original historical and cultural context? Attention is given to the relevant text-critical, lexical, syntactic, stylistic, and rhetorical issues, as well as literary, historical, and cultural context.
2. The Text in the Interpretive Tradition. What have people subsequently taken the text to mean? Here the commentary explores the various ways Jewish, Christian, or other traditions have interpreted or applied the text.
3. The Text in Contemporary Discussion. What are the most important problems that arise for readers and hearers today? The focus here is on the ways we interrogate or “talk back” to the text. This section invites the reader to join a lively contemporary discussion about how the interpretation of the text matters.
Fortress Press Reference Editor Scott Tunseth and Acquisitions Editor Neil Elliott explain the vision and contexts of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible!
Explore the books
The Advisory Board
Walter Brueggemann • William R. Herzog II • Richard A. Horsley
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza • Gale A. Yee
The Old Testament and Apocrypha
Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana
St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa
The New Testament
Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, Texas
Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
An Interview with the Editors
Creating a new two-volume Bible commentary from scratch requires many contributors and thousands of hours of research, writing, and editing. The two-volume Fortress Commentary on the Bible has over seventy contributors working with the guidance of six scholar editors, and Fortress staff, Scott Tunseth (General Editor for Reference) and Neil Elliott (Bible Studies Acquisition Editor). Planning for the two-volume commentary began at SBL 2011, and the volumes were published just in time for SBL 2014. Here, Scott Tunseth asks the editors about their work.
As an effort in destabilization of genre, I applaud this 'commentary'. . .
"Although still a fierce crank about and critic of the commentary as an academic-intellectual genre and religio-cultural-political refraction, I am intrigued by this new project: the editors seem to me—certainly, in the framing material, with its raising of ex-centric and broad problems, questions, and issues—to be working in the direction of destabilization of genre. And so as an effort in destabilization of genre I applaud this 'commentary.' "
An excellent resource for beginning students and Bible study groups.
"The Fortress Commentary on the Bible provides an excellent resource for beginning students and Bible study groups. It includes many fine contributions by experienced and reliable scholars, and the bibliographies are a treasure trove."
A must read . . . exquisite and profound, yet quite accessible.
"With the culinary artistry of a Julia Childs and a Wolfgang Puck, producing elegance, symmetry, and engaging knowledge, the Fortress Commentary on the Bible: The Old Testament and Apocrypha provides a wonderful smorgasbord of insight into the Hebrew Bible and Apocrypha with rich servings of literary, historical, and theological wisdom. With global, diverse voices and perspectives, contributors address texts in their ancient contexts and the textual interpretative traditions, and situate the texts in their contemporary milieus, always aware of their audiences. With the rich appetizers and entrees of sociocultural, literary, and political insights, this biblical commentary invites readers to gain insights that allow for marveling at the poetic and prophetic voices in the text, toward becoming responsible interpreters. This work is a must read for those with an appetite of curiosity, for those who desire a new recipe for reading, and for any who desire to have a one-volume biblical commentary that is exquisite and profound, yet quite accessible."
Very impressive—the best one-volume scholarly commentary on the New Testament available today.
A welcome new approach that gives readers an introduction to the rich interpretive tradition.
"While most biblical commentaries of the past have focused either on the text in its original context or in contemporary interpretation or attempted to combine the two with very little in between, this new approach takes on the three aspects of ancient context, contemporary discussion, and the middle ground of the interpretive tradition. In response to recent interest in the history of interpretation, this represents a welcome new approach that gives readers an introduction to the rich interpretive tradition that has happened over the centuries between the biblical writings and our own interaction with them."
Unlike many commentaries, this one is more interested in stimulating a critical encounter with the biblical text than in providing a set of answers. . .
“The new Fortress Commentary on the Bible offers a tool for encountering Scripture in a new and multi-faceted way. Like many commentaries on the Bible, it provides information on the cultural and social situation in which the biblical text was composed. . . . Unlike many commentaries, this one is more interested in stimulating a critical encounter with the biblical text than in providing a set of answers about what it once may have meant. With this approach, the commentary offers to be particularly useful to intelligent modern readers of the Bible, who respect its role as a formative text in the development of the Christian tradition, but who also approach the text sensitive to its potential dysfunction. It promises to be a welcome tool for pastors and teachers seeking to encourage a thoughtful and critical engagement with the Bible.”
Hear from the Contributors
An Interview with the Contributors
The Fortress Commentary on the Bible was created with the expert work of over seventy contributors working with the guidance of six scholar editors, and Fortress staff, Scott Tunseth (General Editor for Reference) and Neil Elliott (Bible Studies Acquisition Editor). Here, Fortress Press asks a select group of the contributors about their work.
Reflections from master preachers on the importance of contexts in preaching
O. Wesley Allen Jr. on preaching in context
Ronald Allen on preaching in context
Walter Brueggemann on preaching in context
Wil Gafney on preaching in context
Shauna K. Hannan on preaching in context
Lucy Lind Hogan on preaching in context
John C. Holbert on preaching in context
David Schnasa Jacobsen on preaching in context
Karl Jacobson on preaching in context
Rolf Jacobson on preaching in context
Henry J. (Hank) Langknecht on preaching in context
Karoline M. Lewis on preaching in context
Carolyn J. Sharp on preaching in context
Mitzi J. Smith on preaching in context
Will Willimon on preaching in context
My Teaching Tools
The Fortress Commentary on the Bible distills the current conversations in contemporary biblical studies, gathers scholarship from a cohort of diverse perspectives, and provides a unique view of biblical texts through the lens of contexts. This makes the commentary an excellent resource for instructors and students alike in upper-level biblical studies and seminary courses. Read an interview with Professor Paul Kim on why he uses the Fortress Commentary on the Bible: The Old Testament and Apocrypha in his Introduction to the Hebrew Bible course!
FP: Why did you select the Fortress Commentary on the Bible for use in your Introduction to the Hebrew Bible course?
PK: It is one of the latest commentaries out there, which also appears to read like a good “introduction” textbook for Hebrew Bible / Old Testament. It is also from a reputable publisher.
FP: The Fortress Commentary on the Bible emphasizes interpreting biblical texts with three contexts: the text in its ancient context, the text in the interpretive tradition, and the text in contemporary discussion. Why do you find it important to include the discussion of contexts in your teaching?
PK: I like all three contexts—in fact, this is ingenious. One reservation I had was whether covering three contexts would obstruct the overall quality. However, I am delightfully surprised that each context discussion is rich with solid scholarship and cutting-edge knowledge. I have read many portions thus far (e.g., Exodus–Chronicles, plus some prophetic books), and find each section immensely insightful. Especially, the “contemporary” context discussions are thought-provoking, powerful, yet balanced.
FP: Similarly, why should students care about studying in context?
PK: Students often are less than enthused about learning the Bible—an ancient text with ancient and often remote and unappealing stories, especially the Old Testament as opposed to the more popularized New Testament. Helping them learn the key ingredients of ancient contexts, long interpretive traditions, and contemporary connections can enrich their clearer understanding, and even appreciation, of this ancient text.
FP: How do you present contexts in class?
PK: I try to introduce the Ancient Near Eastern texts, culture, and archaeology (e.g., Context of Scripture texts [Hallo and Younger, Brill]) for ancient context. For interpretive traditions, I have students do their own group presentation by doing extensive research on a given topic. For contemporary discussions, I introduce a movie, current news issue, or pastoral care case studies so that students can find how characters, events, and issues of the Bible do matter for pertinent characters, events, and issues of today's society.
Overall, I am pleasantly impressed with the Fortress Commentary on the Bible, and I hope to use it as one of my main textbooks for upcoming years!