I had the opportunity to review the newly released volume of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary series: Volume 5b Ezra- Nehemiah, Esther, by Gary V. Smith (Philip W. Comfort- general editor), published by Tyndale publishers. This volume is one in a series of 18 total volumes of biblical commentary which covers all the books of the bible: new testament as well as old testament. This particular volume, covers the old testament books: Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther in great detail. The actual biblical books in this volume are broken up by chapter. Theological explanations as well as cultural and social background information is provided after the actual biblical text.
In the beginning of the volume, there are a few interesting reference pages, which include the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek alpha-numerical system- which will prove to be greatly appreciated by those readers who are biblical scholars. Other additional reference information include identifications of Qumram and other manuscripts. In addition to general information about the particular inspired author of each particular bible book, the cultural, historical and theological background is provided as well. A timeline/ outline of the events covered in the particular book is also provided.
The actual biblical text in the New Living Translation, is reprinted- chapter by chapter. At the end of each chapter, there are extensive notes containing supplimental information and explanation of each verse. The explanations provided, illuminate and bring to life, the words of the biblical text whose meanings, perhaps may be unclear. Regardless of the translation the reader prefers, this commentary provides relevant and extensive detail on the bible. For example, specific festivals, cultural expressions and individuals mentioned briefly in the biblical text are discussed in exhaustive detail in the notes. Any question you may have concerning a particular verse is most likely addressed in this volume. This book is great as a stand alone reference volume if you are interested in learning everything possible that there is to know about the old testament books: Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. If so, then this is the perfect reference book for you. Otherwise for the casual bible reader, this book perhaps is a bit too focused. This volume, as well as this biblical commentary series, is best suited for biblical scholars, clergy, libraries and theological institutions. Although the information presented doesn't require the skill of a theologen to understand as it can be easily understood by laymen, the extensive information provided in this reference volume, perhaps is a bit too thorough for the casual bible reader. This volume would be more useful for research purposes. In general, I highly reccomend this book (which is part of a series) for any religious institution or library or for a pastor who wishes to have background material for his sermons. The reader should keep in mind this is one volume of eighteen volumes and therefore covers material only from Ezra- Nehemiah and Esther. As a blogger for Tyndale publishers, I recieved this book for the purposes of writing a review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.