Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: A Commentary on the Psalms

A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 1 (1–41). By Allen P. Ross. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications. pp. 894. 2011. ($44.99)

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This first installment of a new commentary series from Kregel is a useful tool for preaching and teaching from the hymnbook of the Bible. The Psalms played a very important role in the religious life of believers in both the Old and New Testaments and on through the centuries. Given their role in the devotional life of Christians today, an accessible commentary that is both faithful to the Bible and enlightening to the reader can bear dividends on an individual’s spiritual growth for a long time.

The introductory materials, which are quite extensive due to this being the first volume in the series, are a wealth of information on the structure of Psalms as a whole and the various types of Psalms contained in the book. Poetry normally follows common conventions, and knowledge of these conventions will help with understanding and interpreting each Psalm.

Ross is not afraid of introducing Hebrew words and textual difficulties to his readers, but he is cognizant that the average reader is probably not a daily dabbler in Biblical Hebrew. As such, he has extensive footnotes on these features for those who are interested, but leave the main body of his work understandable to those of us with little or no knowledge of the language or broader academic discussion going on.

The most helpful pieces for pastors, teachers, and devotional readers include his exegetical and expository outlines of the passages, which help readers move from the Psalm to the Psalm’s message and application for anyone reading the passage. I found the way he worked through the Psalms to be faithful to the Bible and useful for teaching and personal devotions as well.

This is not a technical commentary more fitting for high academics and Bible translators, but it more than meets the needs of the people it was intended for: those seeking to understand the Psalms and faithfully teach them.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of review.

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