Longenecker on Galatians

I have been taking my congregations through Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  The commentary that I have been using as my primary tool is Galatians by Richard Longenecker from the Word Biblical Commentary series.  Longenecker was my New Testament professor during my M.Div. days at McMaster Divinity College.  This is a very helpful commentary for any study on this important book of the New Testament.  Longenecker interacts with much of the scholarship regarding the relevant issues.  Longenecker’s use of rabbinic traditions is both a strength and a weakness.  It is interesting to see what the rabbis were saying about the issues that the Galatians were dealing with.  But sometimes it is easy forget that these traditions, at least in their written form, are much later than the New Testament.  Still, this would be a good addition to any biblical library.

Christology of Early Jewish Christianity

My New Testament professor at McMaster Divinity College during my M.Div. days and one of my readers for my M.Th. thesis was a scholar named Richard Longenecker.  He was a great teacher and I can still remember many of his lectures.  I only wish that I had the opportunity to have taken more classes with him.  I recently read one of his older books that I quite liked: The Christology of Early Jewish ChristianityBy early Jewish Christianity, Longenecker means the strands of the New Testament that have the strongest Jewish flavour and represent that cultural and theological tradition.  In this endeavour, Longenecker focuses on Matthew, John (Gospel and the letters), Hebrews, James and the letters of Peter.  That is not to say that he never interacts with Paul, but he always does so from a Jewish perspective.  This book is basically a study of the various titles of Jesus.  He has helpful discussions of Jesus as Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, God and many others.  Longenecker concludes that Jesus primarily saw himself as the Son, Jewish Christians focused on Jesus as Christ and Gentile Christians focused on Jesus as Lord.  This is a book that is well worth reading in order to understand the identity of Jesus and how the early church understood him.