Peter Enns on Exodus

Sat, 14/10/2006 - 18:28 -- James Oakley

I’m enjoying Peter Enns, NIV Application Commentary, Exodus more than I expected to. He has clearly spent a lot of time with the Hebrew text of the book, and has a lot of helpful observations to make.

For example, the word for “worship” in 4:23 is of the same root as the word for “work” in 5:9. (‘bd). The conflict between Yahweh and Pharaoh is being seen in yet one more respect – which king will successfully command the work/worship of the Hebrews.

Which means there is supreme irony in 5:17. The foremen come to Pharaoh to “cry out” to him at his injustice. He is dismissive, to say the least, and tells them to “go, work” (leku, ‘ibdu). Guess when that exact phrase comes again in Exodus? When Pharaoh says the same thing to the Israelites as defeated tyrant: “Go, worship Yahweh in the desert then.”

I’m sure all these things, and more, would leap out at me if I were to read the whole of Exodus in Hebrew lots of times. Perhaps I should do exactly that, at some point – but not to prepare this sermon series that comes at me 7 chapters at a time! So, given I don’t have anything like the time, how helpful to have a commentary that does deal with the necessary critical issues, but doesn’t allow those issues to drown out the drama of the narrative.

(If there is a weakness in his commentary, it is in his “Bridging the Contexts” and “Contemporary Application” sections. He rightly bridges the context first and foremost to the NT church. But he tends to bridge, and apply, not the message of the section he is discussing, but the themes. The result is some relevant messages to draw from the book. But, whilst I’m not saying we need to be slavish in this, it would be nice to see how the contemporary message relates to the message to the first readers, say on the plains of Moab. Speech-Act theory etc.)

But thank you, Peter, for all you are teaching me about the book of Exodus

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Ros Clarke's picture
Submitted by Ros Clarke on

Maybe I should have taken his Exodus class after all...

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