by J. Randal Matheny, editor

I am a fan of one-volume Bible commentaries. I’ve used most of them, from Peake’s to Jerome’s. Two on my shelf include the New Bible Commentary: Revised and the International Bible Commentary.

As a missionary who wears too many hats, I appreciate the conciseness of the one-volumes. Yes, I will occasionally wade through Thistleton on 1 Corinthians or Furnish on 2 Corinthians, and break open multi-volume references like the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. But I often return to the one-volume commentary to give me the gist.

For years I dreamed of having a one-volume commentary produced by brethren. What a joy it would be not to have to wade through the Calvinism, premillenialism, liberalism or any number of isms of denominational and other religious writers.

So the first news about the forthcoming Restoration Bible Commentary, its publisher, ACU Press, contributors and approach, brings a deep disappointment to one committed to the restoration plea.

Marked by liberal theology and written by scholars from churches of Christ, the instrumental Christian Church and the extreme-left Disciples of Christ, the commentary strikes out in new directions from the approach that believes that Moses wrote Deuteronomy and Paul wrote all the epistles attributed to him in the New Testament.

From what we’ve been able to discover, contributors include

  • Dr. Mark W. Hamilton, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Abilene Christian University (Deuteronomy);
  • Dr. Christopher R. Hutson, Associate Professor of New Testament at Hood Theological Seminary, associated with the A.M.E. Church;. (1 Cor.; 1-2 Thes.);
  • Dr. Phillip Glenn Camp, Assistant Professor of Bible, Hazelip School of Theology, Lipscomb University; Associate Minister, Natchez Trace Church of Christ, Nashville (Hosea, Amos.);
  • Dr. Richard E. Oster, Jr., Professor of New Testament, Harding University Graduate School of Religion (Galatians);
  • Dr. R. Christopher Heard, Associate Professor of Religion, Pepperdine University (Introduction to the Pentateuch, Genesis);
  • Jennifer Jeanine Thweatt-Bates (Religion and Science);
  • Dr. James Christopher Walters, Associate Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, School of Theology, Boston University (Romans);
  • Dr. Jesse C. Long, Professor of Old Testament, Syro-Palestinian Archaeology, and Preaching Chair, Department of Biblical Studies, Lubbock Christian University (Archaeology of Israel).

The ecumenical approach does not jive with the name of the work, Restoration Bible Commentary. It will be anything but a work which contributes to restoring the New Testament church, nor does one expect it to identify in Scripture or hold forth any type of pattern for the church to follow. Considering its contributors, it cannot. The name simply serves as an echo of a movement that in many quarters and by most if not all of the authors, is not only dead but whose principles are repudiated.

The approach to Scripture, according the editor, also will leave the reader wary of textual and hermeneutical issues, since the authors espouse critical views that deny the historicity of much of the Bible. His commentary on Deuteronomy, for example, assumes a date centuries after Moses, who, according to the book, is the direct speaker to the people of Israel encamped on the shores of Jordan before their entry into the promised land.

So even before the commentary is released, it already signals a great disappointment.

There will likely be much to enjoy in this one-volume and many insights to glean. But it will have to go on my shelf, if I decide to purchase it, as another tool that will need heavy sifting in order to extract the nuggets from the sludge.

And every time I look at it, I will remember my unfulfilled dream.