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Genesis: A Commentary [Hardcover]

Bruce K Waltke
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 2 2001
The Gold Medallion winning commentary by one of the leading Old Testament evangelical scholars that explores Genesis with the academic integrity you expect from a conservative commentary, but in an approachable style that addresses the text as "theological literature."

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Genesis: A Commentary + "The Book Of Genesis, Chapters 1-17" + "The Book Of Genesis, Chapters 18-50"
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From the Back Cover

This landmark commentary marshals the vast experience and brilliant insights of one of today's most revered Old Testament scholars. To those familiar with the work of Bruce K. Waltke, the significance and value of Genesis will be instantly apparent. Others who are unfamiliar with Waltke have only to read the first few chapters to understand why he has earned the reputation of a scholar's scholar, and why this masterful volume stands like a monolith among Old Testament commentaries.

Exploring the first book of the Bible as "theological literature," Waltke illuminates its meanings and methods for the pastor, scholar, teacher, student, and Bible-lover. Genesis strikes an unusual balance by emphasizing the theology of the Scripture text while also paying particular attention to the flow and development of the plot and literary techniques--inclusion, irony, chiasm, and concentric patterning--that shape the message of the "book of beginnings.L

Genesis Models the way to read and interpret the narratives of the book of Genesis Provides helpful exegetical notes that address key issues and debates surrounding the text Includes theological reflections on how the message addresses our contemporary theological and social issues, such as ecology, homosexuality, temperance, evil, prayer, and obedience Addresses critical interpretive issues, such as authenticity, date, and authorship

For all the author's formidable intellect and meticulous research, Genesis is amazingly accessible. This is no mere study tool. Lucidly and eloquently written, it is a work of the heart that helps us not only to understand deeply God's Word in its context, but also to consider how it applies to us today.

About the Author

Bruce K. Waltke (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary; PhD, Harvard Divinity School), acknowledged to be one of the outstanding contemporary Old Testament scholars, is professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, and professor emeritus of biblical studies at Regent College in Vancouver. He has authored and coauthored numerous books, commentaries, and articles, and contributed to dictionaries and encyclopedias.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great commentary Dec 7 2001
Format:Hardcover
A well-written commentary on Genesis; but the only drawback it has is that it lacks depth in some places. Waltke along with Fredricks have written a commentary where the layperson as well as the advanced scholar can be comfortable, for the Hebrew words have been transliterated thus allowing the commentary to reach a wider audience. I like the way the entire book is laid out especially the sections - Theological Reflections and Literary Analysis, as they compliment the main text. This book will come handy for preparing a sermon or doing study notes; but if one wants to do an indept research one will need to purchase the works by the likes of Leupold, Hamilton and Wenham. I would still recommend you buy this commentary even if you already own another one on Genesis, and you will not be sorry you bought it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the best April 9 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Dr. Waltke has presented us with the best commentary on Genesis that I have read in a long time. As a Bible study leader this book is indispensable. He exegetes each section which he has divided up into Acts & Scenes - don't let this confuse you, it his own way of "separating" the contents. He not only give us exegetical notes but includes a theological review of each "Act". I have never read a book so designed to correctly use the Word of God. It not only is a delight to read but is a most helpful book for preparing a Bible study. His insights and high view of God are inspiring.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not delivered Dec 10 2001
Format:Hardcover
I ordered this book months back but it still has not arrived!
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Shorter Commentary On Genesis Oct. 8 2008
By David A. Bielby - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was so surprised to see so many negative reviews of this commentary which I have fallen in love with, that I decided to write a review myself.

First of all, Waltke's command of Hebrew and the decision to bring out certain aspects of the Hebrew text is selective, not exhaustive. For example, he does not cover every nuance of the Hebrew text in a verse, but does cover significant issues especially with an eye towards exegetical work (so it's a great tool for pastors-cutting through the chaff and getting to the kernel of the issue). Let me illustrate by looking at Waltke's coverage of 'Book 1 of 10 in Genesis'. In Genesis 2:4a (pg 83) he says : "This the account" [toledot] (sorry I cannot make the Hebrew transliteration look like his typesetting). This word is the signal marker for the beginning of each of the ten books of Genesis. Toledot, from the root yld, meaning "to bear children" here signifies "what is produced or brought into being by someone." It is the nominal form of the root, meaning "descendants." The account pertains to what the cosmos has generated, not the generation of the cosmos.

If you desire more on this, you will have to read someone like Victor Hamilton's NICOT or any number of fuller technical works on Genesis. But for the pastor preparing a sermon, he boils it down to the essentials without TMI (too much information).

For each book in Genesis (he sees 10) Waltke follows a pattern that I find refreshing to read in comparison to fuller commentaries. He starts out with a section called "Theme of Book 1" or 2 and so on. It is a short summary in normal language of that part of Genesis. Then he gives an outline of the book. He breaks it down into Acts, Scenes and Epilogues. This is very logical and consistent and brings out the literary structure of Genesis in a way that really connects well with everyone I've been teaching so far. That's very helpful from a pastors point of view.

Then he does a broad segment called 'Literary Analysis of Book 1'. He covers a bit on Genre, structure and plot, escalation, characters, conflict, irony and innertextuality. After all of this he gives a segment called 'Exegetical Notes to Book 1' In this he gives cogent comments for each part of each verse, sometimes focusing on significant words, such as 'Adam' in Genesis 2:7 with quick overview of the play on words in the Hebrew text and some well polished phrases to sum it up in English (a lot of his stuff is ready made for preaching). The format is pleasant to read for any regular person, not packed with lots of parenthetical phrases or Hebrew, Greek, Latin fonts. Everything is transliterated and smoothly presented.

He has everything organized by Book, Act, Scene. If that is confusing, matching scripture references are retained next to those, and there is a contents table at the front of the book for anyone who is a bit confused by that arrangement. I found it very helpful to use.

Anyhow, after his section on Exegetical Notes, then he has a major segment that I believe will tempt some pastors to skip to this part immediately. It is his segment called Theological Reflections on Book 1 (or 2 or whatever book he is on). He takes crucial theological concepts like 'Second Adam' and gives the major cross links with enough food for thought to get any Bible teacher moving into a major spiritual treasure trove.

After all of his Theological Reflections (which I never find in regular commentaries), then he also offers a segment called Excursus. On Book 1 it is Genesis Genealogies.

I think some of the criticisms of this commentary that are on this website, reflect the hopes and needs of a more scholarly approach than the target of this commentary is intended to assist. This book is a Gold Medallion Award Winning book. The back cover attempts to posit the book as a good tool for everyone from pastor, to scholar, to student, to Bible-lover. I'm not sure scholars or Graduate students will like this tool as much as the heavier duty commentaries out there. But I absolutely love this commentary. I'm very glad that I decided to purchase a copy, and I urge pastors and Bible teachers who have an eye for bringing the text into the hearts of people everywhere to use this commentary in your research of the text.

Overall Waltke gives about 30 pages of information for Genesis 2:4 through the end of chapter 4. Comparing this to Victor Hamilton's NICOT with 92 pages for the same text, and you can see why I call this a 'shorter commentary'. However, Waltke is extremely helpful, particularly for busy pastors and teachers who have to prepare messages week in and week out and draw out not only accurate exegetical thought, but relevant theological and practical application from the text.

Other resources: I would also suggest Hamilton's two volume set NICOT or Wenham's Word Biblical Commentary (2 volumes) on Genesis for the fuller treatment that is sometimes needed on parts of the text. I really love Sidney Greidanus on "Preaching Christ from Genesis" for developing exegetical sermons from Genesis.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful notes on Genesis May 25 2008
By P. Duggan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Bruce Waltke's commentary was useful as a resource for the recent Adult Sunday School class I taught on Genesis 11-50. It doesn't go into as much technical detail as Gordon Wehnam's (Word biblical commentary section), which makes it suited for use by interested laymen who aren't doing advanced study.

Waltke makes good use of David Dorsey's structural outlines (usually chiastic) (from The literary structure of the Old Testament, which are helpful in pointing the reader to compare and contrast one section of the text with another, possibly non-obvious section of text.

For each portion of Genesis Waltke covers includes literary analysis, exegetical details, and theological reflections, which are generally Reformed in tenor. I liked how Waltke referenced God changing his mind about humanity in the flood: "The unchanging God is always pained by sin. Moreover, because he is immutable, he will always change his plans to do good if people persist in their sin: "If it [a nation] does evil in my sight, and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good that I had intended to do for it" (Jer 18:10, ...) God's change of mind about the human race at the time of the flood, is entirely consistent with his unchanging character. God is not fickle, he does not change his mind, including his mind to reconsider. People can count on God always to reconsider his original intention to do good or evil according to the human response."

Waltke follows the usual "majority report" on the impropriety of deception in Genesis, seeing Abraham and Jacob as solely negative examples. Interestingly, and in a very well-argued section, he shows how Tamar is a model of gentile faithfulness in her actions to gain her rightful offspring from fallen Judah.

Waltke's commentary doesn't deal in any great detail with archaeological or scientific difficulties that Genesis presents, though he has reflections (tending to support historical validity) for some of them, such as the alleged anachronism of camels, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire.

A unique contribution is his highlighting of areas of the narrative that contain "blanks" or "gaps". For Waltke, "blanks" are inconsequential omissions from what we might think we would like to know for a full account of a story, and "gaps" are intentional omissions that have narrative weight. Waltke frequently draws attention to these aspects of the text. Waltke cites the lack of a "these are the generations of Isaac" sectional head as another aspect of the narratives criticism of the character of Isaac.

Waltke's commentary is a fine addition or even starting point for anyone dealing with a detailed or literary study of Genesis, and will find good theological insight as well.

As a final note, I can see the point of one of the 2 star reviewers, that the book reads like class notes, which is what they developed from. I didn't find that as offputting, but I can see it as a flaw in some respects. I'm also not as perturbed by the kinds of literary analysis that seems "from left field", though I can see that someone new to it would need some hand-holding. James B. Jordan's Through New Eyes would be excellent in that regard.
41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars generally solid Aug. 18 2005
By Kathy F. Cannata - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Waltke (former Westminster prof) is a real master of the OT. This commentary is generally solid, but uneven. It has the feel of cleaned up lecture notes. In some places it is extremely rich and insightful, in others surprisingly thin and obvious.

Anyone teaching or preaching through Genesis will want this, but will also want to read a few others. Allen Ross is probably the most detailed and helpful. Victor Hamilton in the NICOT series is helpful, but I found theologically problematic at places. Boice is homiletical, careful, Reformed, bt tends to be more moralistic than Christ-centered. Indispensible are the two Iain Duguid volumes on select parts of Genesis. Kidner in TOT series is good.
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the best April 9 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dr. Waltke has presented us with the best commentary on Genesis that I have read in a long time. As a Bible study leader this book is indispensable. He exegetes each section which he has divided up into Acts & Scenes - don't let this confuse you, it his own way of "separating" the contents. He not only give us exegetical notes but includes a theological review of each "Act". I have never read a book so designed to correctly use the Word of God. It not only is a delight to read but is a most helpful book for preparing a Bible study. His insights and high view of God are inspiring.
63 of 85 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not one of the better Genesis commentaries. Feb. 4 2007
By Kevin Marks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am working on my thesis for my masters degree on a passage in Genesis, so I have had opportunity to read portions of about 30 Genesis commentaries so far. As a result, I would put Waltke's commentary in the bottom third of the Genesis commentaries I have read. I read it cover to cover for a seminary course, and I was able to obtain a complete understanding of what he was saying. Since Waltke is a big name, I was very surprised at what I found.

Structure of the book: This is not at all a good cover-to-cover read. He divides the Genesis account into Books, Acts, and Scenes. For instance, Book 8, Act 2, Scene 3 is titled "Jacob Betrothed to Rachel." His outlining convention is fine, but rather than make reference to the biblical stories again in later "scenes" he will refer to Jacob's deception in Act 1 scene 4, which is not at all helpful. He gives the structure of each story, keywords, and makes comments on what the author omitted. There are short references made to many important terms and phrases in the passage being developed, followed by theological reflections and literary analysis. He draws out many interesting comparisons and contrasts throughout the book and has some thought provoking comments on literary structure of the passages.

The preface explains how these are class notes converted into a commentary. It certainly comes across that way. That is one of the biggest negatives of the book.

The thing that most readers will find frustrating is that Waltke's speculations about various texts are so intertwined with his historical/grammatical comments that it is frequently hard to tell what are purely opinions, and what is based on scripture. His theological presuppositions (which I am not entirely in oppostion to) influence greatly his understandings of many texts. The informed reader will find himself asking "Where did he get that from?" Where the novice will have trouble distinguishing the good from the bad.

Here is one of several examples that left me shaking my head (p. 591): "Interetingly the factorization of the life spans of the patriarchs follows a distinct pattern: Abraham 175 = 5x5x7; Isaac 180=6x6x5; Jacob 147=7x7x3." He goes on to quote Sarna who sees this as exhibition of God's grand design. The commentary has several other strange conclusions and interjections such as this that will leave you scratching your head.

The remaining information in the book is marginally helpful. If you are on a budget for your book buying, it would be better to look elsewhere for material that is more helpful.
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