Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 8 (2008) - Review
Paul M. Joyce, Ezekiel: A Commentary (Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 482; New York/London: T & T Clark, 2007). Pp. xi + 307. Hardcover, US$140.00. ISBN 978-0-567-02685-9.
Joyce’s commentary on the book of Ezekiel was originally commissioned for the regrettably defunct New Century Bible Commentary Series. Joyce’s volume continues the scope and format of that series, although publication in the Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Series (formerly JSOTSup) at $140.00 per copy will undoubtedly hamper the wide distribution of this very useful volume. Hopefully, T and T Clark (Continuum) will be able to release an inexpensive paperback edition in the not too distant future.
In keeping with the goals of the New Century Bible series, Joyce offers a commentary that focuses especially on the theological interpretation of the book grounded in historical research and literary sensitivity. Despite the compact format of the series, Joyce manages to pack in a great deal of informative analysis on both the book of Ezekiel and modern scholarship on the book. Text criticism, although not lacking, appears far less frequently in the commentary.
Joyce emphasizes that historical context is an important factor in the
interpretation of biblical text even when the interpreter must account for the
contemporary contexts of both the author of the commentary and its readers. He therefore emphasizes the sixth century
BCE as the historical setting and
In general, he attempts to stake out a middle ground between the work of Zimmerli, who posited a lengthy and complicated process of traditio-historical growth for the book, and Greenberg, who was far more reluctant to identify the work of later writers. Although the work includes secondary material (e.g., Ezekiel 38-39; elements of Ezekiel 40-48, and elsewhere), he attributes the bulk of the work to the sixth century prophet Ezekiel. He recognizes glosses based on the analysis of the MT and at times the LXX, although he rejects Wever’s earlier reconstruction as over-confident and correctly refutes Lust’s contention, based on Chester-Beatty-Scheide Papyrus 967, that the Greek text points to the compositional history of the book.
Joyce’s discussion of theological themes correctly notes that Ezekiel is written
as a form of crisis literature insofar as it addresses the theological questions
prompted by the destruction of
Joyce’s thematic emphases unfortunately carry on into his analysis of the
literary structure of the book insofar as he posits that the book comprises a
number of sub-units based on largely thematic concerns, including Ezekiel 1-3 on
Ezekiel’s prophetic call; Ezekiel 4-24 concerning YHWH’s judgment; Ezekiel 25-32
concerning foreign nations; Ezekiel 33, which he identifies as the turning point
of the book; Ezekiel 34-37 on the hope for restoration; Ezekiel 38-39 concerning
Gog of Magog; and Ezekiel 40-48 concerning the new Temple. Such a view pushes aside the role of the
chronological markers that introduce the various sub-units of the book (and
intrude in the sub-units that he defines) in a sequence that extends from
Ezekiel’s thirtieth to his fiftieth year, the normal span of service for a
Joyce’s welcome treatment of Ezekiel in tradition provides extensive discussion of the role of Ezekiel in Judaism, Christianity, and even contemporary culture. He emphasizes the foundational role of the book in the development of the Merkavah tradition and correctly opines that apocalyptic and Merkavah literature may be related.
Despite the questions raised here, this is a very welcome and useful commentary
that will well serve its readers, especially students, if they are able to