Mark Taylor’s New NAC 1 Corinthians Commentary (Gupta)

Several months ago Broadman & Holman kindly sent to me Mark Taylor’s new (2014) “New American Commentary” on 1 Corinthians. I waited until I was lecturing on 1 Corinthians to devote time to reading portions of this commentary.

First, I would like to note that it is an up-to-date and exegetically competent commentary. When it comes to some of the key themes of 1 Corinthians, e.g., Paul’s theology of the cross and mutual upbuilding, Taylor offers thought-provoking discussion. Taylor tends to do a good job laying out various exegetical options and which commentators take those options and why.

Probably my main concern is that the series chose to work with the 1984 NIV translation instead of the updated 2011 version, and the 1984 version maintains male-centered language for generic pronouns in Greek (e.g., autostis). Now, just this fact should not necessarily reflect negatively on Taylor, but it seems the male-centered thinking does get absorbed into his exposition.

For example, when it comes to 1 Cor 3:3 “You are still worldly…Are you not acting like mere men?”, Taylor explicitly endorses the English translation “men/man” (see page 99). By this I think he means that “man” is a suitable word to refer to humankind. I am not sure what is behind this thinking, but I know enough women (and men) in the pews who would be confused by hearing the Bible only talk about and to “men.”

Even BDAG seems to be attuned to the changing nature of the English language – BDAG identifies anthropos as meaning, in its primary uses “human being” (of either sex). BDAG only points to two places in Paul where anthropos seems to be used in a more restrictive way as a word for “man” (1 Cor 7:1; Eph 5:31). My own feeling is that when anthropos is meant to represent human nature in contrast to God and godliness, anthropos is even better translated as “mortal.”

This may seem like a strange concern on my part, but I found the constant male-centered language to be simply too distracting and takes away from the more beneficial features of Taylor’s work.

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