John I. Durham is a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Southeastern Baptist Seminary in North Carolina and the author of many scholarly works on Old Testament studies, including this volume in the Word Biblical Commentary Series.
Of the Volumes in the Word Commentary that I've read or consulted, Durham's treatment of Exodus ranks among the best. One of Durham's greatest joys in preparing this commentary is the fact that he is required to make his own translation of the Hebrew text. His skill and enjoyment in this area certainly shine through as he jumps from wooden translations, to phrases that capture the spirit of the Hebrew (as opposed to the literal translation), with all his translation decisions explained in his translation notes. I learned more about Exodus than I expected from reading the translation and notes!
As for the commentary proper, I am pleased to find that John Durham is easily one of the most readable contributors in the Word Series--he seems to know when a point needs more explanation and when he's "beaten a dead horse." I was also pleased to find that Durham, a respected scholar in an academic setting, was able to briefly cover "Ivory Tower" theories about certain portions of text, but then have the wisdom to put such theories in their proper place. He often mentions an academic controversy or debate, but then does a great service to the reader by putting the debated portion of Scripture in its proper theological context.
This last point is perhaps the most valuable aspect of this commentary--the author never forgets the major theological themes and points in the book of Exodus. Whether the text is about Ten Plagues, Ten Commandments, Tabernacle Furniture, or rebellious Israelites, Durham always puts these portions of Scripture in context--theological and historical. He is one of a shrinking number of Old Testament authors that actually has respect for the textus receptus.
While this commentary has many strengths, it also has some disappointing weaknesses. The first among these is the absense of any New Testament applications. Durham begins by pointing out that Exodus is the third most quoted OT book in the New Testament (running behind Psalms and Isaiah), yet does not make the connections between the Testaments. Whether a portion of Scripture is quoted by Jesus, Paul, etc., or whether Messianic prophesies are apparent (Passover, the table in the Tabernacle, Moses' arms being supported in a crucifix position, etc.), Durham ignores it.
A second disappointed aspect of Durham's commentary is the amount of respect and credit (and space) he gives to source-criticism and "later editors" theories. At many points, it is very difficult to tell if Durham actually BELIEVES that some of the events recorded in Exodus actually happened. He clearly does not believe that Moses wrote the book, but he does believe that the Lord descended onto Mount Sinai, but he's not sure if the Tabernacle and furniture actually existed. It often seems as if Durham deliberately avoids taking a position on historical reliability and the like. If, in the Introduction, he stated that he is simply giving an overview of others' ideas (see Beasley-Murray's commentary on John), that would be one thing. However, Durham makes no such claim and the reader is left wondring where the author's religious convictions lie.
In all, this is a solid commentary on a difficult and diverse book of the Bible. While there are flaws, the book's merits far outweigh them. I recommend this book.