EXODUS INTERPRETATION by TERENCE E. FRETHEIM

♦♦♦♦ (of 5)

The bottom line: An excellent commentary worth reading, and highly recommended for in-depth hermeneutical analysis of the book of Exodus.

 

I have yet to be disappointed by any of the volumes in the Interpretation series. Let’s face the facts: the average layperson will not be reading Exodus Interpretation, and the intended audiences are either those in a secular degree program taking a class on religion, or a student enrolled in a theological education program. The highly studious and biblically curious also apply.

A comprehensive understanding of Exodus allows anyone to establish a concrete foundation for further biblical analysis—the author achieves this and more. Fretheim excels in breaking down the issues behind the narrative of the nation of Israel being liberated from Egyptian bondage and then starting their journey toward the promised land. All the while, Israel works through the growing pains of engaging in a life devoted toward service and obedience to Yahweh. The author is able to effectively illustrate how themes and paradigms symbolically standing behind events that took place thousands of years ago in a distant land are very applicable to our lives today. I found several subjects particularly insightful: (1) liberation from bondage leading into service to Yahweh (not absolute autonomy); (2) the early demonstration of divine mercy and the persistence of God to restore a creation-themed order for his people; (3) the nation of Israel as a microcosm for the entire world; (4) finally, the role of Moses as a highly-favored intercessor on behalf of the people, a relationship that points forward to Christ.

In my view the one major downfall of the book is its lack of detail devoted toward the specifics of the tabernacle itself. The “portable sanctuary” is a subject the book of Exodus devotes most of its attention to, yet the topic is skimmed over and only discussed in general terms. Granted, the author does describe (pg. 265) the difficulties in choosing a specific lens to view the tabernacle and its construction, but I would have enjoyed being led into a deeper reading of the text.

Very well done.

 

Dr. C.H.E. Sadaphal

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