Job 1-21: Interpretation and Commentary. By C. L. SEOW. Illuminations. Grand Rapids, Mich.: WILLIAM B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING CO., 2013. Pp. xxviii + 971. $95.
The Hebrew book of Job is widely acknowledged as a literary masterpiece, but a commentary that is attuned to the book's ancient Near Eastern context, literary artistry, and philosophical and theological complexity, as well as the traditions of the book's interpretation and reception, is a rare treat. The first installment of Choon-Leong Seow's new commentary on the book of Job is illuminating in each of these areas--remarkable for its erudition, patient scholarship, and the clarity of its exposition.
Seow's commentary on Job 1-21 is the inaugural volume for the new Illuminations commentary series (with Seow himself as general editor). The commentaries in the series are meant to be broadly accessible, but without sacrificing anything of the critical rigor one expects from a full-scale academic commentary. Thus, each commentary is divided into "interpretation" sections, which furnish the author's comprehensive understanding of the chapter or passage under discussion in fluid and non-technical prose, and "commentary" sections, which supply the requisite evidence (philological, textual, historical, etc.) upon which the interpretation is based, as well as closer engagement with other scholars' positions.
One of the features that sets the series apart from other major commentary series is the integration of insights from each book's reception history--or, in Seow's preferred terminology, its "history of consequences." The series thus seeks to provide a comprehensive reference for students and scholars of biblical writings by fusing three different kinds of commentary (traditional historical-critical, literary or thematic, and reception history) into one resource. Can this be done well and still be "accessible and enjoyable" (p. xii)?
If Seow's inaugural contribution is representative of the rest of the series, the answer is a resounding "Yes!" The volume is eminently readable, and I noted only a handful of grammatical or typographical errors. The running translation is fresh and judicious, backed up in the commentary sections with discussion of various scholarly positions and Seow's mastery of comparative Semitic philology. All non-English terms are transliterated, making the volume's most intricate discussions accessible to a fairly broad audience. The four indices at the end of the volume...