Tuesday, April 05, 2016


Qualifications of a Commentator

Willoughby C. Allen (1867-1953), A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907), pp. i-ii:
For a commentator upon this book, who is to do his work efficiently, should have many qualifications. He should be a competent Greek scholar, versed in the Hellenistic Greek literature, and acquainted with the bearing of modern archaeological discovery upon the history of the language. He should be acquainted also with the Hebrew of the Old Testament, with the various Aramaic dialects, and with the later dialects of the Talmuds and Midrashim. If the writings of Deissmann on the one hand, and of Wellhausen and Dalman on the other, have shown what new light can be thrown upon the New Testament by experts in their own department, they have also illustrated the defective character of a one-sided knowledge, and have given indications of the sort of work that may be done by a scholar of the future, who shall be at the same time a Grecian and an Orientalist. The commentator should further be a master of the material for the textual criticism of the Gospel, which is in itself the study of a lifetime. He should have a thorough knowledge of the literature dealing with the so-called Synoptic Problem, and should have formed a judgement based upon independent investigation as to the literary relationship between the Canonical Gospels and the sources which lie behind them. He should have studied the growth of theological conceptions as illustrated in the Old Testament, and in the apocryphal and apocalyptic literature up to and during the period in which our Gospels were written. And he should have mastered the Talmudic and Midrashic theology at least sufficiently to be able to form an independent judgement as to the possibility of using it for the purpose of illustrating theological conceptions and religious institutions in the first century A.D.

From Joel Eidsath:
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