The New Interpreter's Bible is a twelve-volume series, updating the popular Interpreter's Bible from a few decades ago. There are several key features common to all of the volumes of this series. First, each includes a two-column, double translation of the Biblical text (NIV - New International Version, and NRSV - New Revised Standard Version) arranged by topical unit or story. Then, they provide commentaries that look at the passages as a whole, as well as verse-by-verse. Third, interesting Reflection pieces that relate the passages to each other, to history, and to current concerns occur at the conclusion of each passage. Fourth, introductory articles for each book are provided that discuss transmission, historical background, cultural setting, literary concerns, and current scholarship. Finally, there are general articles about the Bible, each Testament, and various types of literature (Narrative, Gospel, Wisdom Literature, etc.) are provided to give general placement and knowledge about the text overall.
The list of contributors, editors, and consultants on the project is a veritable Who's Who of biblical and theological scholarship, representing all major traditions and schools of thought liberal and conservative. Leander Keck, of the Yale Divinity School, is the primary editor of the series.
The volumes were published individually, and can be purchased individually, which is a good thing, given that they are a bit expensive. But for any serious biblical scholar, preacher, student, or enthusiast, they are invaluable.
The fourth volume of the New Interpreter's Bible finishes a look at the `histories', more precisely termed in the NIB as Narrative Literature, with the apocryphal books I and II Maccabees. Then it turns to looking at the books that form the heart of ancient Hebrew poetry, the books of Job and the Psalms.
Adele Berlin of the University of Maryland provides a general article on an Introduction to Hebrew Poetry. One of the first difficulties addressed is the difficulty of determining just what is poetry in the Hebrew Scriptures. Looking at familiar concepts such as meter and rhythm, rhyme and patterns, Berlin also addresses ideas unique or at least more characteristic of Hebrew poetry, such as terseness, certain kinds of parallelism, and context and themes. Finally, Berlin discusses the reason for poetry - to be read and spoken. `Most scholarly analysis of biblical poetry has concentrated on its measurable features, such as formal structuring devices, repetition, parallelism, meter, and the like. Commentaries generally offer line-by-line interpretations focusing on difficult words and constructions or unusual references. Occasionally provided by the exegete, but often left to the reader, has been the actual reading of the poem - the making of sense and beauty from its sounds, words, and structures, the perception that it is a unified entity with a distinctive message.'
The apocryphal books of the Maccabees are addressed by Robert Doran of Amherst College. Carol Newsom of Candler School of Theology at Emory provides commentary on the book of Job. J. Clinton McCann Jr. of Eden Theological Seminary looks at the book of Psalms. In looking at the Psalms, McCann states: `The book of Psalms presents nothing short of God's claim upon the whole world and it articulates God's will for justice, righteousness and peace among all peoples and all nations. It is the purpose of this commentary to elucidate that claim and to enable the reader to hear the Word of God as it comes to us in the psalms.'
High praise goes to the general editorial staff for working with such strong authors/scholars, that their work fits together well as part of this set while retaining their individual characteristics (much like the writers of the Bible itself!).
--Other volumes available--
The following is a list of each volume in this twelve-volume set, and the contents of each.
Volume I: General Articles on the Bible; General Articles on the Old Testament; Genesis; Exodus; Leviticus
Volume II: Numbers; Deuteronomy; Introduction to Narrative Literature; Joshua; Judges; Ruth; I & II Samuel
Volume III: I & II Kings; I & II Chronicles; Ezra, Nehemiah; Esther; Additions to Esther; Tobit; Judith
Volume IV: I & II Maccabees; Introduction to Hebrew Poetry; Job; Psalms
Volume V: Introduction to Wisdom Literature; Proverbs; Ecclesiastes; Song of Songs; Book of Wisdom; Sirach
Volume VI: Introduction to Prophetic Literature; Isaiah; Jeremiah; Baruch; Letter of Jeremiah; Lamentations; Ezekiel
Volume VII: Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature; Daniel; Additions to Daniel; Hosea; Joel; Amos; Obadiah; Johan; Micah; Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah; Haggai; Zechariah; Malachi
Volume VIII: General Articles on the New Testament; Matthew; Mark
Volume IX: Luke; John
Volume X: Acts; Introduction to Epistolary Literature; Romans, I Corinthians
Volume XI: II Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; I & II Thessalonians; I & II Timothy; Titus; Philemon
Volume XII: Hebrews; James; I & II Peter; I, II & III John; Jude; Revelation