Horace D. Hummel Concordia Publishing House 2005-08-01

“The purpose of this series, simply put, is to assist pastors, missionaries, and teachers of the Scriptures to convey God’s Word with greater clarity, understanding, and faithfulness to the divine intent of the text.” This purpose statement amplifies the subtitle of this volume: “A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture.” Hummel, a long-time member of the faculty of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Concordia Seminary, has succeeded well in achieving the stated purpose of the series in this excellent work on Ezekiel.

After setting forth his “Christian method of interpretation,” which informs his entire approach, Hummel deals with standard introductory rubrics such as text and style, outline and theological emphases, historical content, and history of interpretation. Notably missing is any formal, sustained grappling with issues of text criticism though such matters are interspersed throughout his sections on “critical textual notes.” To return to the matter of a “Christian method of interpretation,” Hummel makes plain his commitment to a “specifically Lutheran approach” that accents such themes as Christology, Law and Gospel, and God’s means of grace for salvation and preservation of the saints. These themes in the Old Testament generally and in Ezekiel in particular require what Hummel calls the “dual hermeneutical principles” that unite the two testaments: prophecy-fulfillment and type-antitype. For the most part he applies this hermeneutic in a sober and judicious manner throughout.

One of the features of this work—and others of late—is the separation of critical textual notes from the body of the commentary proper. Hummel’s recognized status as a Hebrew scholar is manifest in his copious attention to matters of grammar and syntax and his generally helpful observations about their applicability to the meaning of the text. However, such bifurcation of text and commentary forces the careful student to go back and forth between the two sections in order to see how the technical matters of text inform the objective of clarifying the meaning of sustained passages. As distracting as it might be to some readers, a case can still be made for footnoting textual data at the places where they are pertinent to the exegetical discussion. In this volume, however, the text notes are so voluminous that the separation of text and commentary may be unavoidable from a technical standpoint.

As for his citation of sources Hummel shows an awareness of and dependence on both early Jewish and early Christian writings and exploits them quite freely. On the other hand he seems to have limited his sources to a relative handful of contemporary scholars, especially Leslie Allen, Daniel Block, Walther Eichrodt, Moshe Greenberg, John B. Taylor, and Walther Zimmerli. These are indeed established authorities on Ezekiel, but Hummel’s dependence on them to the near exclusion of others might give the impression that his own work is unduly influenced by too few voices, even his own.

More positively, a perusal of typical problematic passages leads this reviewer to a very affirmative assessment of Hummel’s work. He is cautious, deliberate, devout, and clearly evangelical in his treatment of the text, even if tending too much, perhaps, to see the New Testament gospel in the Old Testament prophet.

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