Book Review by
1 Corinthians, a volume in the Teach the Text Commentary Series, is available from BakerBooks. Authored by Preben Vang, professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University and formerly of Ouachita Baptist University, this full-color volume examines Paul’s first Epistle to the church at Corinth.
The format remains consistent through the Teach the Text series. The Scriptures are broken up into teaching- or preaching-size sections. Each one receives approximately six pages to work the passage from understanding through teaching. The major sections are “Understanding the Text,” “Teaching the Text” and “Illustrating the Text.”
The 1 Corinthians commentary begins with a discussion of the background of Corinth. This information provides the reader with an understanding of the city, a valuable foundation for studying Corinth. Some commentaries focus more on the Apostle Paul and why he wrote, which has value, but the information on the city provides clarity about why Paul wrote what he did.
Additionally, Vang handles sensitive passages like 1 Corinthians 6 regarding lawsuits among believers well. Rather than simply dismissing it as past issues and justifying suing others or demanding believers never utilize government courts, the concepts behind the rule of Scripture are addressed. Vang demonstrates how Paul was not telling believers to eschew criminal courts for wrongs done, but that it is far better to testify to Jesus than to win a lawsuit.
The historical and cultural background of the passages regarding attire in church and women’s roles within the church are handled delicately. Again, Vang provides the understanding of how life was in Corinth and how this shows through in Paul’s writing. He does not provide a clear decision on how these issues should be applied today, leaving that decision to the interpreter. This echoes the typical method of a teacher, to provoke questions and leave the answers to the reader.
Reading through the 1 Corinthians commentary provides the teacher and the preacher with insight to the background on Paul’s letter. Further, the “Illustrating the Text” sections bring forward different ways to communicate the points in the text.
The visual ideas and the media links are helpful for the teacher who needs to break out of a rut in presentation.
I continue to find the Teach the Text Series a helpful addition to my studies of Scripture to prepare for teaching and preaching.
Doug Hibbard is pastor of First Baptist Church in Almyra.