A Review of Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms, Volume 3 (90 – 150), Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1042 pages, hardback
Finally we have the third and final volume of the Kregel Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms by Allen P. Ross, Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School. This one covers Psalms 90 through 150 and brings the complete set to three thousand pages. The first two volumes were outstanding. I have found that I turn to them first for exegetical and even ques to homiletical material (alongside VanGemeren in the EBC).
Although this review is on Volume 3, I want to say something about the other volumes. Ross’s introduction in Volume 1 is a very helpful orientation to the Psalter, its forms, its themes, and its theology. As with his outstanding book on worship, Recalling the Hope of Glory, he concerns himself in these books with the Divine – human encounter. Take a look, for instance at Ross’s comments on Psalm 8 and Psalm 23 in the first volume, and Psalm 42 in the second, and see how Ross brings you into the context of the human author. The author is a Bible conservative. He is not interested in winning friends in the critical academy, although he is a first rate Old Testament scholar.
But my job is to comment mainly on this third volume. At 1042 pages it is the largest of the three. The page count includes an Index of Word Studies and a Select Bibliography but no Scripture, Subject or author indices. Why not? For no good reason that I can think of! It is my only complaint with the book and it is not Ross’s fault, it is the publisher’s. When Kregel make peace with practical common sense and start including proper indexes I will stop moaning about their lamentable absence.
What kind of Commentary is this? It is first and foremost an interpretation of the biblical text. That is to say, it is quite single-minded in its basic intent. If you want to know what the text says, with some insight into what is going on, this is the book for you. Other commentaries will need to be on hand for those concerned with the theological teaching of each Psalm or with detailed interaction with critical opinions, although Ross does discuss various matters to do with motifs, classification, and ideas about dating and purpose, together with furnishing his own translation.
Usability marks this series overall, and this work doesn’t waste the reader’s time. This is what makes these excellent volumes for the preacher. The footnotes are many but they do not overwhelm the student. They do their job of informing and authorizing certain statements of the author.
The interpretations are coined with an eye for what they would have meant for the Old Testament Jew. Thus, with the great Davidic Psalm 132 stress is laid upon the faithfulness of God to His covenant with David and how belief in God’s promise leads naturally to confidence in God. David knows that his descendant will reign on his throne one day. It is good to find a commentary that takes these things seriously without making them heavenly types. The troublesome imprecation at the end of Psalm 137 is treated head on as a righteous supplication from those who have suffered or seen great suffering. Meanwhile Psalm 119 is given 140 pages of exposition.
Allen Ross is one of Evangelicalism’s best scholars. He has brought to conclusion his Psalms Commentary, and has produced arguably the best exposition of the Psalms available.
This book was sent to me free of charge by the publisher.