The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible — 3 vols.: 'The First Book of Samuel, Peter F. Ackroyd; Amos, Hosea, Micah, Henry McKeating; each £2.30; Old Testament Illustrations, Clifford M. Jones: £3. Also issued as paperbacks (Cambridge University Press).
THE first two volumes provide brief introductions to the Old Testament books followed by the text in concise sections with accompanying commentary, also maps, etc. An editorial preface describes the aim of the commentary 'within severe limits' to set out the main findings of recent scholarship, to describe the historical background, and to critically discuss theological issues —this for a general public, but teacher, and average reader, especially.
The textual criticism, incorporating historical background, while well tailored to student, teachers, and average reader, give adequate material for close study. Used in sixth form. religious formation, or
seminary the class could acquire a satisfactorily close knowledge. Theological criticism is less impressive and indeed parallel comment is not the best place for it.
In the first chapters of Hosea, where the prophet is told by God to 'take a wanton for wife, and get children of her wantonness' and to 'love a woman loved by another man' the comment, while conceding that Hosea managed to pick prophetic sign-value out of domestic mess (e.g., Hosea representing the Lord, his wanton wife Israel), does not consider at all the possibility that the entire episode is sheer parable. But then, neither did the Jerusalem Bible consider this.
The volume 'Old Testament Illustrations' provides background material in the form of maps, diagrams, photographs, especially of excavations, etc., and old masters. Text in the main explains the pictures, and when it comes to treating Tobias largely by explaining a picture of the Tuscan School, I feel points are missed.
F. S. G. A. Luff