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The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament

by Craig S. Keener

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1,541811,888 (4.04)2
Craig S. Keener presents fascinating, wonderfully useful information on the historical and cultural backgrounds of nearly every verse in the New Testament.
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    Holy Bible - Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV) by Wartburg Project (divinepeacelutheran)
    divinepeacelutheran: My go-to version of the Bible. No additions or deletions. Easy to read.

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This revised edition of the standard reference work in its field has been expanded throughout to now provide even more up-to-date information by Craig Keener, one of the leading New Testament scholars on Jewish, Greek and Roman culture.

To understand and apply the Bible well, you need two crucial sources of information. One is the Bible itself. The other is an understanding of the cultural background of the passage you're reading.

Only with the background can you grasp the author's original concerns and purposes. This unique commentary provides, in verse-by-verse format, the crucial cultural background you need for responsible―and richer―Bible study. It includes a glossary of cultural terms and important historical figures, maps and charts, up-to-date bibliographies, and introductory essays about cultural background information for each book of the New Testament.

Based on decades of in-depth study, this accessible and bestselling commentary is valuable for pastors in sermon preparation, for Sunday-school and other church teachers as they build lessons, for missionaries concerned not to import their own cultural biases into the Bible, for college and seminary students in classroom assignments, and for everyday Bible readers seeking to deepen and enhance their study of Scripture.

"So far as this reviewer can discern, Keener knows his ancient sources and knows the best recent ideas on how to interpret them. . . . Teachers, pastors and students of the Bible will find it immensely helpful; I will probably include it in my next revised list of eight to twelve books recommended for a 'Basic Home Christian Library.'" (Presbyterion)

"Keener has accomplished a monumental task in assimilating a vast amount of primary and secondary material on first-century Jewish and Greco-Roman culture and making it accessible to nonspecialist readers. In addition, he displays a wide knowledge of New Testament scholarship (Pauline studies, gospels studies, etc.). To make this commentary useful to a diverse audience, Keener has minimized theological comments and emphasized historical, cultural, and social background. The text is clearly written and fairly free of technical jargon. . . . This volume should be a useful addition to public, academic, and seminary libraries." (Library Journal)
"It is nearly impossible to imagine that one person could have compiled all the information contained within this volume. But Keener has not simply compiled material; he has mastered it. . . . At every turn of the page, whose who treasure the Bible will find something new and valuable."
  staylorlib | Jul 28, 2022 |
I have huge respect for Craig Keener’s work ever since his 2003 two-volume commentary on the Gospel of John. It was largely instrumental in researching for my own book about John’s Gospel, and I believe has become the primary resource for Johannine studies. So when IVP sent me this brand new second-edition 800-page New Testament commentary, I was quite excited.

As a reference book, it doesn’t disappoint. Scholarly and interesting, each book of the New Testament is given a short introduction detailing authorship and setting, and then a verse-by-verse commentary. The verses are clustered and topical, so it’s easy to page through the book looking for topics of interest. Be aware that Keener’s emphasis differs from other commentaries; he is less interested in providing simple exegesis than in painting a picture of the first-century setting whereby a saying or statement can be understood. Note the title: this is a “Bible Background Commentary.” It is about the cultural background and what was going on in Bible days that colored the writings we read two thousand years later.

It’s this focus that gives this reference book its unique niche. A few examples of Keener’s focus will help explain what makes this a must-have resource for sermon development or (in my case) writing Bible commentary:

Matthew 5:22, about the “fires of Gehenna” for someone who calls his brother a fool: Keener doesn’t delve into the history of Gehenna but speaks to its metaphorical meaning as the opposite of paradise, and how some Jewish teachers envisioned eternal torture while others believed the wicked would be burned up.

Acts 2:1-4, about the arrival of the Holy Spirit: Keener explains the Jewish anticipation of the return of the Spirit and its outpouring as a sign of the Messianic age.

1 Corinthians 11:14-15, about a woman wearing long hair as a head covering, while long hair on a man is a disgrace: Keener points out how ancient writers, especially Stoic philosophers, loved to make arguments from nature. Nature taught them that men could grow beards, but women’s hair naturally seemed to grow longer. Paul is well aware of the exceptions to the rule (such as the Nazirites) but draws on this observation more to make a point than to instruct his readers in how to wear their hair. ( )
1 vote DubiousDisciple | Mar 2, 2014 |
The IVP Bible Background commentaries are wonderful tools. If I could have only one commentary, this would be it. I like some others, but none have the objective integrity of these ... no discernible theological agenda. The information is not necessarily good for every purpose, but it gives you much of what you need to gather context. Wonderful. ( )
1 vote darlingtrk | May 16, 2009 |
Great single volume resource of verse by verse cultural background. ( )
1 vote MrsBond | Nov 29, 2008 |
Case 8 shelf 4
  semoffat | Aug 26, 2021 |
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Craig S. Keener presents fascinating, wonderfully useful information on the historical and cultural backgrounds of nearly every verse in the New Testament.

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