Archive for January 30th, 2010

ZIBBCOTA couple months ago, I wrote a review of Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (ZIBBCOT) Volume I (Genesis – Deuteronomy), part of a new 5-Volume set from Zondervan. I was highly impressed with the insight and sources provided in the historical comparative material covered in that volume.

In late December, I received volume 5, which covers the minor prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. It should be no surprise that I have loved it almost as much as volume one. In fact, my wife heard me talk about it enough that she purchased volumes two, three and four for me (to finish out the OT set) for Christmas, and the New Testament set for my birthday!

Following in the same format as Vol. 1, ZIBBCOT vol. 5 first covers the chronological placement of each of the OT books it covers, in some cases narrowing it down to 2 or 3 possibilities (where the biblical books do not give explicit time-periods). Then, based upon the most likely time placement, it uses the architecture, literature and artwork of the period to construct the culture of Israel and the surrounding countries, as relevant to the biblical text.

Additionally, there are beautiful photographs of the geography around the setting of relevant books/passages, maps, diagrams and lots of artifacts which illustrate the subtext of man passages.

As I noted in my review of Vol. 1, the authors of this series of commentaries are very respectful of the biblical text, as they compare and contrast contemporary beliefs and practices with those of the Hebrews in Israel. This is not done in any way to attempt to undermine the biblical text, but to help enhance it with a fuller cultural understanding.

For example, in Jonah 3, where the text indicates that God changed his mind, the authors note that the verb used here is the same one used in other OT books where it is said that God does not change His mind. Where this is different in Jonah is that the earlier passages were in the context of covenant agreements (where God will not change His mind), whereas the one in Jonah deals with the outcome of a prophecy (in which God can change His mind in how to meet the ends of a prophetic pronouncement).

Personally, I found the chapter on Job, the oldest book of the Bible, in terms of authorship, to be the most interesting one, with interesting notes on the differences between ‘the accuser’ in Job and the proper-named ‘Satan’ later in Scripture, and in-depth discussion on the origins of ‘the behemoth’ and ‘the leviathan’.

If I have any complaint about Volume 5, it is only that it seems a little more disjointed than Volume 1, which is only to be expected, since it covers so many short books of the Bible. All in all, though, it is an excellent resource that i will continue to go back to in my personal library.

  • Share/Bookmark