Monday, December 01, 2014

Feasting on the Gospels -- Luke Volumes 1-2 - Book Note

FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS -- LUKE, Volume 1: A Feasting on the Word Commentary.  Edited by Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2014.  x + 339 pages.
  FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS -- LUKE, Volume 2: A Feasting on the Word Commentary.  Edited by Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2014.  X + 369 pages.

First it was Feasting on the Word, a series of lectionary commentaries that have proven to be a blessing to a myriad of lectionary preachers like myself.  Not content to rest on their laurels, Westminster John Knox Press came out with the Feasting on the Gospels series.  With Matthew and Mark already published earlier, WJK has now released the two volume set of commentaries on the Gospel of Luke.  As before, the editors of the commentaries are Cynthia Jarvis and Elizabeth Johnson, have added a volume covering the Gospel of Mark.   

The editors bridge the academic-parish divide, with Cynthia Jarvis is a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania while Elizabeth Johnson is J. Davison Philips Professor of New Testament  at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. This Elizabeth Johnson needs to be distinguished from the Roman Catholic theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson (author of She Who Is).  These two editors served on the editorial board of the Feasting on the Word Series and were commissioned by WJK Press to create this companion series.      

Like the earlier Feasting on the Word series, this series provides four different vantage points on the reading -- this time the Gospel of Luke.  Each volume includes a theological, pastoral, exegetical, and homiletical reading of the text. While there are guidelines as to the focus of each element, it is common for the writers to venture across the "borders" to do exegesis or theology or pastoral an homiletical suggestions. Each perspective is impressionistic.  

The editorial board for the series involves representatives from twelve denominations, and the contributors range from an even wider community of scholars and writers.  As one would expect from a project that derives writers from such a wide spectrum of backgrounds, there will be differences of interpretation and vision -- not just across the four disciplines but across the commentary itself.  The backgrounds of the contributors not only cross denominations, but also social locations, from various ethnic backgrounds, gender differences, and of course the place from which they write -- whether the academy or the parish. This diversity of perspective makes for enlightening conversation.      

I have been very pleased with the methods and diversity of perspectives present in the earlier volumes and look forward to using this set.  For preachers and teachers of the bible, this new series needs to be in their libraries.   The value of the series was recognized by the Academy of Parish Clergy. which  made this series (based on the Matthew volumes), its 2014 Reference Book of the Year, 

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