1 & 2 Kings. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary

By Walter Brueggemann
Macon, Ga. : Smyth & Helwys (2000). xxii + 645 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Grisanti
15.2 (Fall 2004) : 247-247

For comments about the format of the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series, see my book review of Tony Cartledge’s commentary on 1 & 2 Samuel in this issue of TMSJ. The present volume, the first of the series, contains all the features found in Cartledge’s contribution. Brueggemann refers to 1–2 Kings as “royal history,” but does not understand the term “history” in “any modern sense of an accurate ‘factual’ account of that past” (1). In other words, the details of the accounts contained in 1–2 Kings are not consistently reliable. It is better viewed as “interpretive commentary” on that royal history or a “theology of history” rather than an accurate and reliable historical account (2).

Recognizing the non-conservative perspective of Brueggemann, one finds it interesting to notice numerous helpful observations relating to the history and culture of Israel. He does not focus on the things about which he might be skeptical or things he would regard as erroneous. The text of the commentary and the numerous sidebars are instructive in the vast majority of instances. It is in the “connections” section (focusing on application strategies) where Brueggemann’s less conservative tendencies become most apparent. As with Cartledge’s commentary on 1–2 Samuel, Brueggemann’s commentary should not be the first one purchased by a pastor who intends to teach or preach through 1–2 Kings. Regardless, Brueggemann does make easily available to his readers a lot of information that relates to the history found in 1–2 Kings.