Judges: A Theological Commentary for Preachers

Abraham Kuruvilla

Judges: A Theological Commentary for Preachers
 Judges: A Theological Commentary for Preachers

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Categories: Judges

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Judges: A Theological Commentary for Preachers engages hermeneutics for preaching, employing theological exegesis that enables the preacher to utilize all the units of the letter to craft effective sermons.

This commentary unpacks the crucial link between Scripture and application: the theology of each preaching text (i.e., what the author is doing with what he is saying). Judges is divided into fourteen preaching units and the theological focus of each is delineated. The overall theological trajectory or theme of the book deals with the failure of leadership in the community of God's people. Since God's people are all called to be leaders in some arena, to some degree, in some fashion, the lessons of Judges are applicable to all Christians. The specific theological thrust of each unit is captured in this commentary, making possible a sequential homiletical movement through each pericope of Judges. While the primary goal of the commentary is to take the preacher from text to theology, it also provides two sermon outlines for each of the twelve preaching units of Judges. The unique approach of this work results in a theology-for-preaching commentary that promises to be useful for anyone teaching through Judges with an emphasis on application.

Pages: 350
Publisher: Cascade Books
Published: 2017
ISBN-10: 1498298222
ISBN-13: 9781498298223


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5 out of 5 based on 1 user ratings
S. J. April 29, 2019 5 5
This is the single best commentary on Judges I have ever have the privilege of reading. In fact, I'd be tempted to say it's one of the best commentaries I have ever read. Rather than address comments verse by verse, this commentary takes an expository approach by examining the 14 "periscopes" of Judges. The section for each periscope begins with a unique inclusion of "review, summary, preview." A paragraph is given reviewing the themes of previous periscope, summarizing the current one, then previewing the one to come. This sets the scene for valid exposition by keeping the context at the forefront of the discussion. A small chart follows, with an outline and the "theological focus." An overview follows with more detail, particularly focused on the main events/details of the periscope and how they relate to the overall arc of Judges. Then, the meat of the commentary, addressing with incredible detail and insight the events of the passage. The text is then given ample attention, leaving no stone untouched, and thoroughly covering how each detail points towards the bigger picture. Most impressively, he seems to excel in seeing connections between the periscopes and in the book as a whole. (For example, noting that all the judges before Samson had some sort of disadvantage, yet "...Samson would lose it all (16: 20), and accomplish less than any of his predecessors did.") When referencing the Hebrew, he helpfully transliterates it. (However, a major Kindle error renders most everything that should be Hebrew lettering as random English letters.) Following that, the coverage of each periscope ends on a very helpful note with what he calls the "sermon focus" and two preaching outlines. The focus helps point preachers in the right direction for coming up with their own application, and the outlines offer ways to organize and present the material and resulting application. I'm not a fan of alliterated outlines, nor the one or two word main points format, (I lean more towards a Donald Sunukjian style outline,(1) but they are, nevertheless, very helpful to consult.) Lastly, chapter endnotes provide additional technical or bibliographic details that wouldn't fit smoothly within the flow of the text. (All in all, there are 715 of those endnotes!) This approach never lets up, allowing the same depth and care that graces the first few pages to continue until the very end. The conclusion to the book is also stunning in it's honesty and openness, helping to set in stone the purpose of this volume and how to use it. He beautifully calls out the generally intellectual scholars for their soulless biblical examination in commentaries that never lead to what the biblical writer was doing with what he wrote, nor how modern preachers may take the Biblical text and preach/teach from it. He makes an incredible case for his style of "theological commentary" and I only hope others will read his books and follow suit. This is, in some ways, one of the most important sections of the commentary, and goes to explain just why Kuruvilla excels at what he does. In fact, I'd almost recommend reading the introduction AND conclusion before using the commentary. As with nearly all commentaries of this caliber, a sizable bibliography and Scripture index finish out the work. (Another Kindle error annoyingly added 'n' in any of the Scripture index numbers, but that is easily ignored.) Some of his own technical jargon can confuse at times. (Who else knows what "Praxis" means?) but an able mind can figure them out well enough, and if not, I'm sure his preaching book would help connect any remaining dots.(2) Notable Quotables: Introduction: "This commentary, as with the others in this series, adopts a synchronic approach that deals with the final form of the text as we have it, construing it as a meaningful, coherent, canonical unit of theological worth. I take it that a biblical author writes purposefully, creating a text with intention, each part of it contributing to the overall theological agenda of the book." Introduction: "Authors always do things with what they say and the burden of the interpreter is to figure out what they are doing, even with all the slaughter and mayhem— the thrust of the text, the theology of the pericope. It is this entity alone that can guide the reader to valid application that is aligned to the intent of the author(s)" Periscope 3 -Judges 3:12-31 Summary: "...[Ehud's}] duplicitous words and deceptive actions are subtly deprecated in his story: his left-handedness is suspect; his meticulously planned skullduggery is disfavored; he is equated to Joab, and with excrement. And, finally, the cameo of Shamgar makes this minor judge a foil for the major judge who lacks integrity. With the implicit disapproval of Ehud’s actions and the approval of Shamgar’s, integrity in leadership forms the thrust of this pericope." Periscope 12, Theological Focus - Judges 17:1-18:31: "The consequence of godless leadership is utter godlessness in society that invites the discipline of God (17: 1— 18: 31). Conclusion: "Unfortunately, commentaries, generally written by biblical scholars not particularly acquainted with preaching, have tended towards with what I call “a hermeneutic of excavation”— the exegetical turning over of tons of earth, debris, rock, boulder, and gravel: a style of interpretation that yields an overload of biblical and Bible-related information, most of it unfortunately not of any particular use for one seeking to preach a relevant message from a specific text." [Full Review]

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