Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament
Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015
There are three important things that one needs to keep in mind when interpreting scripture: context, context and context. That of the writer’s, the audience and the present reader's as well as the social, political and cultural milieu. The Paideia series of commentaries focus on context:
Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament is a series set out to comment on the final form of the New testament Text in a way that pays due attention both to the cultural, literary, and theological settings in which the text took form and to the interests of the contemporary readers to whom the commentary is addressed.
Peter Oakes, the author, is New Testament lecturer at Manchester University, he begins by ‘taking an initial look at Galatians, together with relevant external evidence such as the use of Galatians, to gather with relevant external evidence such as the early use of Galatians, to give us a provisional idea of the nature of the text.’ He arrives at fairly conservative and largely uncontroversial positions: Paul is the author writing between AD 46-61 - up to his imprisonment in Rome. He divides the main structure of Galatians into three parts: the narrative (1:11-2:21), argument (3:1-4:11) and instruction with argument (4:12-6:10).
After each section of the commentary is a ‘Theological issues’. However, these read more like a devotional section for daily reading notes particularly when questions such as ‘What would it mean for present day Christians..?’
The strength of this commentary is its use of external evidence and the stress on the context. The text is helpfully supplemented by ‘side bars’, photographs and maps. He interacts well with more recent work on Galatians in an easy accessible style. The book will be particularly useful for undergraduates.
The most quoted authors are in order: Martinus Boer, Hans Dieter Betz, Richard Longnecker, Louis Martyn, James Dunn, Richard Hays, F.F. Bruce and Tom Wright.
We are well served with excellent commentaries on Galatians, not least Dunn, Bruce, Longnecker, Schreiner and Moo - and now to that list we could add Oakes.