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Fall 1998 · Vol. 27 No. 2 · pp. 195–96 

Book Review

Hosea, Amos

Allen R. Guenther. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1998. 429 pages.

Reviewed by Lynn Jost

Allen Guenther’s commentary on Hosea and Amos in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series offers the crowning contribution of a churchman-scholar to the hermeneutical community. Guenther, a professor of Old Testament at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary for seventeen years, has given the last decade to living, teaching, and sleeping the biblical books of Hosea and Amos. The result is a polished public conversation with these two eighth-century prophets who addressed the Northern Kingdom of Israel and whose words were written for the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Guenther’s passion for communicating the prophetic message to the contemporary church is well suited to the format of the commentary series. Within the brief introductions to each book, the author offers a structural grid that outlines the book at a glance. A preview and outline prepare the reader for the larger unit which follows. Detailed explanatory notes offer exegetical clues to inform the reader of the issues at stake and offer guidance in interpretation. The interpretive comments demonstrate a clear grasp of the technical concerns of scholars but successfully avoid the temptation to resolve these issues at the expense of needlessly confusing the reader.

The two sections which follow, “The Text in Biblical Context” and “The Text in the Life of the Church,” consistently connect significant issues raised by the text to the life of the community of faith. A minor distraction is the rather unpredictable insertion of these two sections following the interpretive comments (e.g., only a single commentary for the entire passage of Hosea 11:12-14:8 after three such interruptions in Hosea 6:4-11:11).

Three features of this commentary deserve special commendation. First, the essays in the concluding section of the commentary are worth the price of the volume themselves. The brief dictionary studies of words, motifs, concepts, and literary constructs will assist the lay teacher and preacher, for whom the commentary is designed, to prepare for clear communication of the major repeated themes of Hosea and Amos. The comprehensive references within the body of the commentary will alert the reader to pertinent articles, which include Asherah, Ba’al, Canaanite Fertility Myth, Covenant, Day of the Lord, and Justice and Righteousness.

Second, the occasional grids, graphs, outlines, and maps will assist especially the visual learner to grasp more complex concepts at a glance. Third, Guenther has addressed controversial questions with pastoral wisdom and prophetic boldness. Many readers will be pleased with the {196} clarity demonstrated in commenting on such questions as the divine-mother metaphor (184-85), economic justice, materialism, and civil religion.

Allen Guenther has succeeded in providing a valuable resource for teachers and pastors as they communicate with the contemporary church, especially as they do so from an Anabaptist perspective.

Lynn Jost
Assistant Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies
Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas

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