Book Review: A Commentary On The Psalms Vol. 2 by Allen P. Ross

commentary-psalms-rossA Commentary On The Psalms Volume 2 (42-89) by Allen P. Ross

Stay tuned for an exclusive quote from the commentary on this blog.

You can read my review of Volume 1 here on Scripture Zealot blog. I will re-iterate some of what was written there in the beginning portion. I read the exposition of Genesis by Ross entitled Creation and Blessing and became a fan of him and his style. That exposition was perfect for me and my level of knowledge as is this commentary/exposition of the Psalms. According to Ross it’s “for pastors, teachers and all serious students of the Bible.” This commentary isn’t quite as academic as Goldingay’s, but it’s also not for new Christians. It’s very thorough, and didn’t leave me wanting. In fact, he answers questions I didn’t know I had.

Volume 2 isn’t as long as the first one, being about 100 pages shorter at 841. This is because it doesn’t have the excellent introduction that’s in Volume 1. It starts right off with Psalm 42. There is no index of any kind at the end of this volume or Volume 1, so I would assume that Volume 3 will. Volume 2 is exactly the same color and height as Volume 1, so they will look good next to each other on your bookshelf. The cover art is on the cover itself, so it doesn’t have a dust jacket, which I like.

The first section for each Psalm is the Introduction that includes Text and Textual Variants, which is the author’s own translation and plenty of footnotes on words, phrases and comparisons to the Greek version, which is very educational and is but one of the strengths of the commentary. I always like reading the author’s translation. To me it’s like a bonus, since I love comparing translations. One example would be in Psalm 73:4, which has literally-“their body is fat”, which the trusty NASB has (ESV has “fat and sleek”–huh?). I’ve seen the mention of fat being written in a positive light elsewhere in the Old Testament and that has always puzzled me, especially since I’ve always been into fitness. Ross says that this is figurative for flourishing and healthy. (So this can’t be used as an excuse.) He translates it as ‘healthy’. So does the literal translation convey the meaning? That’s getting off track, but he gives you this type of information just in the translation and footnotes alone. Also interesting (to me) is right off in Psalm 42:5 and 11 use the word ‘murmur’, which none of the popular translations that I looked at use. Murmuring is something that I’ve written about in the past.

Next comes Composition and Context which is basically a short introduction with any information that will be helpful in understanding the Psalm as a whole. Then there is Exegetical Analysis which might have a short comment on the genre and structure, and then a short Summary with an outline. The commentary itself is titled Commentary In Expositional Form. Sometimes he will go verse by verse and sometimes groups verses. The exposition is more like what you would hear in a sermon as opposed to a word by word exegesis of the original language, although he does delve into it fairly often, giving a short definition for each word or phrase, so you don’t have to know any Hebrew, or Greek when commenting on the Septuagint. Although it’s expositional, he sticks strictly to the text. There are no stories, anecdotes or personal opinions that don’t belong. Everything is very focused and orderly without being dry, partly because of the last section being a short Message and Application. He seems to follow C.S. Lewis’ philosophy in not using big words when he doesn’t have to. A good commentator doesn’t need to show off their vocabulary just for the sake of it. Something else a good commentator like Ross does is help you to learn to read Scripture better in general.

Although he interacts with other commentators, this isn’t a commentary on commentaries, or leave you wishing you would have just read the people he’s quoting instead of the book you bought.

I’m not one to be able to comment on any theological bent regarding the Old Testament and Psalms in particular, other than he is evangelical. (Here is a good one on Amazon.) He seems very objective and doesn’t insert any obvious biases and slants. I think this makes it a great commentary for a wide audience.

If I could write anything at all negative it would be that the font size is actually a little larger than what I like, which is a plus for many people, and the lack of indices. We won’t know how good those will be until we see the final Volume 3. Otherwise, like his commentary on Genesis, it’s nearly perfect for me and if you buy it, I hope you feel the same. It’s not cheap and doesn’t come in Kindle format.

If the publisher wouldn’t have provided a free copy for an unbiased review, I would have bought it.

Publisher: Kregel Academic (October 23, 2013)
Hardcover: 848 pages
ISBN-10: 0825425638

Buy it from Amazon.com

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