Galatians: an exegetical and homiletical resource
A new type of commentary is proposed, particularly designed to help students and pastors with intermediate Greek skills or above improve their ability to interpret the Greek text and move from exegesis to preaching. The first aim will be to show how a better understanding of Greek grammar and syntax can help in the task of structuring, interpreting and expounding successive passages from the Letter to the Galatians. The second aim will be to show how such study, aided by theological analysis, can lead to relevant and appropriate preaching from a New Testament letter.
This volume will be part of a new series to be issued by Kregel Publications, called Kerux: An Integrative and Interactive Commentary for Preaching and Teaching.
The co-authors are Constantine Campbell, who has published three books on verbal aspect in Biblical Greek, and is keen to apply his knowledge of Greek grammar and syntax to a piece of sustained exegesis, and David Peterson, who has published several books in the area of Biblical Theology, and has recently finished the Pillar New Testament Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. He also wrote Christ and his People in the Book of Isaiah (Leicester: IVP, 2003), dealing with hermeneutical issues associated with preaching Christ from the Old Testament. He taught Homiletics at Moore College for many years. Both authors regularly seek to base their preaching on study of the Greek New Testament.
Many seminary graduates are reasonably competent to translate the New Testament into English, but find it difficult to know how to use commentaries on the Greek text with profit. Commentaries sometimes fail to explain the significance of particular points of grammar and syntax, while majoring on details that are not immediately relevant to the task of exposition and preaching. Students and pastors can find it hard to discern ‘the wood’ from ‘the trees’.
Guidance is rarely given in commentaries about how to expound the Greek text and preach it to a contemporary audience. Where guidance is given, it is often based on a theological or pastoral theme running through the passage, or on the significance of key words and phrases, rather than on the structure and flow of the argument in each paragraph.
In particular, students and pastors can fail to see how a knowledge of Greek grammar and syntax helps them discern the structure, emphases and focus of a passage, allowing them to expound and apply the passage appropriately to a contemporary audience.
Books on preaching mostly do not begin at this level of analysis, though W. C. Kaiser Jr., Towards an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981) offers a helpful way forward, proposing the need for contextual, syntactical, verbal, theological, and then homiletical analysis of a text. To some extent, we might follow Kaiser’s model in the interpretation of Galatians. The aim would be to fill a significant gap in the literature by applying these different, but related levels of analysis to an important Pauline letter.
Comparison with alternative publications
The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary provides structural diagrams of the English text and has context and exegetical sections, while also offering guidelines for application.
The NIV Application Commentary does not delve sufficiently into the exegesis and meaning of passages before proceeding to application. It also tends to give a range of possible meanings for every passage, based on interesting words and phrases in the text, rather than focussing on the structure of the argument in each section and its major emphases.
The Interpretation Commentary on Galatians, published by John Knox, avowedly deals with ‘whole portions or sections of text that are used in teaching and preaching, rather than dealing with individual verses and words. Exegetical study and hermeneutical reflection are integrated into one readable expository essay.’ Although it offers helpful guidelines for preaching, it lacks detailed analysis of the Greek text and structural observations that would help with the exposition of each passage.
The Word Biblical Commentary makes detailed observations about the Greek text but is weak on syntactical analysis. There is a great deal of interaction with scholarly opinions about the text, but the application section does not show how the structure and emphases of the passage can guide the preacher to expound the text in a relevant fashion.