Last week I quickly surveyed a few books published in 2009 which I think merit attention for their contribution to Stone-Campbell studies. I neglected to include a milestone publication in Biblical studies. About this time last year ACU Press issued The Transforming Word, a one-volume commentary on the Bible.
It is a landmark achievement in that it is the first multi-authored one-volume commentary produced from within the Stone-Campbell movement (each of the three major streams are represented among its authors, although most authors are from Churches of Christ). Also, about six weeks ago it was announced that Books-A-Million will carry it in each of its retail stores, making it the first such volume of “ours” available in this way to the wider reading public.
There has been a consistently strong tradition of commenting on the Biblical text from within the movement, particularly on the New Testament. We have not published many commentaries on the Old Testament and still fewer commentaries engaged (much less employed) the methodologies of current Biblical scholarship for the sake of a wide readership. Only in the last generation or so have Churches of Christ commentators with the highest academic credentials (Ph.D.’s in their field of publication) published commentaries and most of these have been for the academic community. Our emphasis, historically, has favored in-house commentaries which eschewed “technical questions.”
Now, whether you agree with this emphasis or not, and whether they acheived their purposes or even did a good job, is another matter for future posts. The Transforming Word is the first of its kind, and for this reason alone I think it should have been included in my earlier list. As I have opportunity to read it, study with it, and read reviews of it, I may weigh in again on its merits. For that matter, I smell a few installments of Explorations about commentaries brewing already.