Over the past year or two, I've noticed the publication of several volumes in a new series called the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. R. R. Reno (pictured here) is the series editor. Reno is a professor of theology at Creighton University and authored the Brazos volume on the Book of Genesis.
Of all the commentary sets out there, I have to say this one intrigues me the most. For one thing, you might not always recognize the names of the authors. Most preachers and teachers expect to see commentaries on New Testament books by well-known specialists like Ben Witherington III, Scot McKnight, Gordon Fee, and the everywhere-all-the-time N. T. Wright. If it's a commentary on an Old Testament book, then you expect names like Tremper Longman, Choon-Leong Seow, Terence Fretheim, and John H. Walton. But none of those names show up on the Brazos list.
Something else about this series: when I do recognize an author's name, it's usually someone who's earned his or her reputation in a field next to biblical studies, not in it. For example, the volume on the Book of Acts was written by the late Yale professor Jaroslav Pelikan, who made his mark as an historian of Christianity and the Middle Ages. Pelikan was a great scholar. But he was not a biblical scholar per se. The commentary on Colossians has been assigned to Christopher Seitz, an Old Testament specialist who, to my knowledge, hasn't published much at all in the area of New Testament (but who has always shown an interest in the theological unity of the Christian Bible). The volume on Matthew is by the popular theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwas. And Ellen Charry, a theologian who teaches at Princeton, is scheduled to co-author the commentary on the Book of Psalms.
In short, this series deliberately steers off the beaten path. Instead of biblical specialists, it turns to people who are more theologians to say what they will about the various books of the Bible. This comes across clearly in the official blurb:
Leading theologians read and interpret scripture for today's church, providing guidance for reading the Bible under the rule of faith. Each volume in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible is designed to serve the church--through aid in preaching, teaching, study groups, and so forth--and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible.
It will be interesting to see where this series will go, what impact it might actually make in the way that students of the Bible hear and apply the text. If you need to know the answer to some technical question, there are a handful of resources you can turn to (e.g., Word Biblical Commentary, International Critical Commentary, etc.). But to hear what historian Timothy George might have to say about the Book of James? That sounds especially interesting to me.
So, has anyone out there taken a look at one of the Brazos volumes? What did you think?