Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Joy of Writing a Commentary

Composing a commentary on a book of the Bible is no easy task. Especially now so "late in the game" one wonders why even bother? Have not all of the books of Scripture been so well served at this point? Yes, most of the books (especially of the NT) have been well served with mammoth commentaries just spilling out of the corridors of academia. This is principally seen on the influx of entries over the Apocalypse of John. On every level mind you, technical, moderate and popular, there seems no end to the rash of books on this hard to comprehend book of the Bible.

Progress for my own commentary on the Apocalypse is slow but steady. Half of the struggle is keeping up with all of the new monographs and papers and consequently having to deal with these in my own work. The origin of my own writing on the Apocalypse was birthed simply due to notes that I started to compile on the Greek text and textual problems. From this sprang a full obsession to read just about any and all of the secondary literature on the Apocalypse. I was astounded time and again over the hermeneutical pitfalls that many of the commentators would fall in, especially the biggest of all, the sinkhole known as anachronism. Hence, my particular reading of the Apocalypse I believe will be an important contribution due to the careful import I give to the correct hermeneutic on the Apocalypse.

But the sheer joy of writing a commentary far outweigh any of the negative aspects. I highly recommend it to all my readers to concentrate on one aspect of your biblical studies, be it a commentary, theological problem or particular discipline. Let me give an analogy. Imagine you are taking a car trip from LA to New York. As you go you pick up new traveling partners that give you hints and shortcuts, offer extra fuel money and perhaps even suggestions on where to stop for a good bite to eat and some great vino. The more traveling buddies the better. Before you know it you have traded in the car and now are steamrolling in a large motor-home jam packed with friends. So is the experience of writing a commentary. The more you get in depth into your study the more dialogue partners you pick up, great commentators from both the past and present.

And perhaps there is no more exciting and yet perilous road trip than the mysterious highway we call the Apocalypse of John. Highway 66 eat your heart out.


R. E. Aguirre

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