The Anchor Yale Bible Commentary (AYBC) is commonly thought of as a full-scale critical commentary covering the Old Testament, Apocrypha, and New Testament, but it is more than that. I value AYBC because, while it is a great example of a critical commentary, its full-scale nature means the authors frequently offer multifaceted readings and insights.
In this post, I want to show you four examples of the type of commentary found in AYBC and one example of how you can easily move from text to commentary in Accordance. AYBC is 50% off at Accordance for one more day.
When I think of AYBC, I immediately think of how Joel Marcus frames Jesus’ cries from the cross. Let me set it up and show you a couple of quotations.
Marcus explains how in Qumran literature the Angel of Darkness was thought to be responsible for astronomical phenomena and could play a part in “the depression that darkens the mood of God’s chosen ones” (Mark 8-16, p. 1063). He notes how one of Satan’s goals is to get God’s people to curse him and die. With this context, Marcus writes,
And if Jesus will cry out “with a loud voice” here and in 15:37, that is exactly what people who are demonized—and only they—do elsewhere in the Gospel (1:26; 5:7; cf. 9:26 and Strelan, “Recognizing,” 493–501). Although Mark does not say so explicitly, therefore, the inference from his narrative may be that Jesus, on the cross, suffers such a sudden and intense Satanic assault that he becomes in some ways like a man possessed (cf. Danker, “Demonic Secret”).Joel Marcus, Mark 8–16, p. 1063
For Marcus, this isn’t just a novel interpretation or a neat way to find parallels to Qumran literature. There is some interprative payoff and theological insight:
With his cry, and with the death that follows, Jesus has achieved the purpose of his mission: complete identification with humanity’s slave-like, accursed condition, and a corresponding form of decease, “even death on a cross” (cf. Phil 2:7–8). The cry of dereliction, then, is in a strange way the Markan counterpart to the Johannine cry of triumph, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)—the goal has been achieved, humanity has been redeemed, and Jesus can therefore die. (Mark 8–16, p. 1064)Joel Marcus, Mark 8–16, p. 1064
I remember reading this in seminary and being blown away by the thought of Jesus being demonized. It has impacted my reading of Mark ever since. These are just a couple of snippets; Marcus soars in this section. His comments on Jesus’ death (Mark 15:33–41) span fifteen pages.
Interpretive History and Options
One great benefit of a monumental series like AYBC is that some volumes are of the life-work, magnum opus type. Raymond Brown’s John commentary is a great example.
I appreciate the way Brown interacts with the text from multiple perspectives. He looks at it critically and devotionally, and he does not neglect the history of interpretation. I recently turned to Brown’s commentary for insight on the giving of the Spirit in John 20:22.
He first discussed the text in light of the Gospel of John itself and noted echoes of Genesis 2, Wisdom 15:11, and Ezekiel 37:3–5. Brown then turned to the history of interpretation, discussing the debate over the text at the Second Council of Constantinople and the view of Theodore of Mopsuestia. He discusses Chrysostom’s view “who relates the gift of the Spirit in John 20:22 to the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit in Acts to the power to work miracles and raise the dead” (p. 1038). Finally, he comments on how critical scholars respond to the text.
This is just one tiny glimpse of what makes Raymond Brown one of my all-time favorite commentators (right up there with R. T. France).
A friend and I were recently talking about Hebrews 8 when a text critical issue arose in 8:8. Does the author of Hebrews say that (a) God found fault “with them and said …” or does it say (b) God found fault “and said to them?” THGNT and NA28 are different here.
Hebrews 8:8a μεμφόμενος γὰρ αὐτοῖς(THGNT)/αὐτοὺς(NA28) λέγει·
AYBC is the type of series that you can turn to for text critical commentary as well. Supporting αὐτους (finding fault with them) and against αὐτοις (says to them), Craig Koester comments,
[Reading “says to them”] does not fit the author’s style, however, since he regularly introduces biblical quotations with a form of legein to say or similar word and no indirect object (2:6, 12; 3:7, 15; 4:3, 7; 6:14; 9:20; 10:5, 15; 12:5, 26).Craig Koester, Hebrews, p. 385
Because the manuscript evidence is so split, I thought Koester’s argument based on the author’s style was helpful. Not the final word, but a helpful comment.
Today, I found especially helpful Victor Paul Furnish’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:2.
2Corinthians 7:2 Χωρήσατε ἡμᾶς· οὐδένα ἠδικήσαμεν, οὐδένα ἐφθείραμεν, οὐδένα ἐπλεονεκτήσαμεν. Make room for us. We wronged no one. We corrupted no one. We defrauded no one.
As I read early this morning with the day’s first cup of coffee, I wondered what exactly Paul might have in mind. Why was he telling them he had done nothing and corrupted and defrauded no one? I tapped on the verse reference on my iPhone, selected amplify, and was immediately taken to Furnish’s commentary:
The emphatic profession of innocence (No one did we wrong … corrupt … defraud, 7:2b) can only have been prompted by charges or at least by insinuations to the contrary. Since the apostle seems to presume that a simple denial will suffice, one learns very little from this passage about the nature of those charges. The third denial, however, no one did we defraud, provides an important clue. The same verb (“to defraud”) is used in 12:17–18. From that passage and its context it would appear that the apostle has been suspected of duplicity and fraud in the matter of the collection for Jerusalem …Victor Paul Furnish, 2 Corinthians, p. 369
I was struck by the humanity of Paul. In 2 Corinthians he isn’t he a powerful hero type character. He’s vulnerable and human, and like Jesus, he too knows what it was like to be slandered. It is always good to see your world reflected in the real world of scripture.
Furnish’s comments weren’t in and of themselves explicitly devotional, but it helped bring me to a very meaningful, devotional reflection.
Here is an example of what it looks like to jump from a Bible text to a commentary on an iPhone:
While AYBC is a full-scale critical commentary — in that way similar to Hermeneia — it is much more. The contributing authors are specialists in their field and frequently offer multifaceted insight into the text.
Right now you can get the Accordance version of AYBC for 50% off. The sale only lasts for one more day, and they do offer payment plans. Check it out the sale here.