Review of G.D. Fee’s Galatians Commentary (Part I)

Gordon Fee is not someone that I expect that I need to introduce to most of my readers.  His work on the Holy Spirit, textual criticism (and NT exegesis in general), Philippians, 1 Corinthians, the Pastoral Epistles, and ecclesiology is well-known.  Most recently, he penned a mammoth volume on Paul’s Christology, a work that will likely be a standard reference tool on that subject for years to come.

We are fortunate to have a new commentary on Galatians (Pentecostal Commentary series; Deo publishing, 2007) from Fee.  This epistle gives us depth of insight into the apostleship of Paul, the Jew-Gentile issues, his relationship with Jerusalem/Peter/James, and, of course, the Holy Spirit and Christian ethic.  What a delight to have Fee’s perspective on such matters.

First – about the type of commentary.   It is in a series that is by pentecostals and speaks into the pentecostal community.  Fee is insistent, though, that his is not a ‘Pentecostal commentary’, but, rather, it is an exegetical commentary written by a NT scholar who happens to be a pentecostal.  He does not feel the need to support particular pentecostal doctrines.  In fact, when he does address pentecostals directly, his comments are more critical (as a fellow pentecostal) rather than sycophantic.

The format and style of the commentary immediately demonstrates that it is not of the same depth and critical-engagement as the ICC, Anchor, or NIGTC.  He spends no more than 10 pages on the ‘introduction’ (date/place/purpose/themes).  The commentary proper involves a standard pericope-by-pericope discussion followed by a ‘reflection’ (on theological issues and applications) and ‘response’ (which directly applies the teaching to the reader with penetrating questions and other thoughts).

Again, this is not a place to turn to for detailed comment or for an extensive bibliography.  On the other hand, it is helpful when someone has a short bibliography because he (or she) divulges the most salient books and articles.  It is worth reproducing here what books Fee consulted most often for Galatians:

Barclay, J.M. G. Obeying the Truth (1988)

Betz, H.D. Galatians (Hermeneia; 1979)

Bruce, F.F. Galatians (NIGTC; 1982)

Burton, E.D. Galatians (ICC; 1921)

Dunn, J.D.G. Galatians (BNTC; 1993)

Hansen, G.W. Galatians (IVPNT; 1994)

Lightfoot, J.B. Galatians (1865)

Longenecker, R.N. Galatians (WBC 1990)

Martyn, J.L. Galatians (AB; 1997)

Matera, F. Galatians (SP; 1992)

Witherington, B. Grace in Galatia (1998)

In the next segment of this review I will discuss the actual content of the commentary and Fee’s contributions to the various exegetical enigmas in Galatians.

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