By John Kight
The expositional proclamation of the Word of God requires a starting point that’s often lacking in traditional commentaries. It requires an establishment of the text itself. It necessitates an honest analysis of textual variations, the grammatical constructs, the syntactical relationships, lexical evaluation, and contextual awareness. This is the starting point.
But what pastor really has enough time to collate and examine various manuscripts, interact with the best available Greek grammatical resources, and consult the gold-standard Greek-English lexicons before Sunday morning? Not to mention doing so with a keen awareness of the broader contextual landscape of the New Testament book and/or corpus they seek to proclaim. It is within this reality that the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) series shines the brightest.
From the start, the EGGNT series has sought to bridge the gap between the text of the Greek New Testament and the available lexical and grammatical tools utilized by pastors and teachers around the world. The authors and editors of the EGGNT series have brought together the best and most up-to-date scholarship relevant to the task of understanding and establishing the text of the New Testament. At present, there are five available volumes and six New Testament books covered in the EGGNT series—Colossians and Philemon, James, 1 Peter, Philippians, and most recently, the Gospel of John.
Each volume in the EGGNT series begins with a brief introduction, a basic outline, and an annotated list of recommended commentaries on the particular New Testament book. The body of each volume is dedicated to a paragraph-by-paragraph exegesis of the Greek text, and the layout is intentionally crafted to present the necessary information to ensure a firm understanding of the text. Each section concludes with a thematically curated bibliography for further study on discussed topics, and a homiletical suggestions section that follows closely with the exegesis provided. Lastly, each volume concludes with a comprehensive exegetical outline of the entire book.
Having had the opportunity to interact with the entire EGGNT series over the last several months, I can testify to its usefulness in many areas of study. For example, I’ve used Joseph H. Hellerman’s recent volume on Philippians as an exegetical chaperone to guide the process of my own translation. This exercise convinced me of the effectiveness of the EGGNT series and its ability to guide the reader through the depths of the exegetical process. Since then I have worked my way through the remaining four volumes and have been repeatedly encouraged by the level of scholarship and detail that this series continues to provide.
The series as a whole assumes a certain level of competency and training in the biblical languages for maximum comprehension, but even readers with a minimal understanding of the languages will find benefit in the EGGNT. For example, as I was working through the volume on the Gospel of John by Murry J. Harris, I was prompted by an external conversation to investigate the deity and preexistence of Jesus. Harris provided a few solid pages on the subject, and the information was helpful for establishing the text of John 1:1-2, but it still left me wanting more. Turning to the For Further Study section, I found a healthy bibliography specifically tailored to this topic and continued my study in the provided direction.
Another benefit for the reader who may be interested in what the EGGNT series has to offer but feels inadequately prepared is the Homiletical Suggestions section. This section is a goldmine of careful exegetical analysis presented to the reader in a set of user-friendly expositional chunks. If this section is something that interests you and you fall into the category of the reader mentioned above, one suggestion you may find helpful is to start with this section rather than end with it. I found that this helps me to focus my mind on the homiletical task and allows the exegesis provided in the preceding commentary to more naturally fall into place. Regardless of how the section is used by the reader, it is certainly an added benefit for all users and will be consulted often.
The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series has filled a much-needed gap in my library. It’s a great time-saver in the sense that I don’t have to repeatedly engage in the initial research required by the task of exegesis. Certainly there will still be work that needs to be done, but nearly everything one needs to establish the text of the New Testament for Christian proclamation is found in the EGGNT. This is where we should begin if we are going to faithfully preach and teach the Word of God.
John Kight is pursuing an MDiv at Liberty University with an emphasis in biblical studies. He is Director of Adult Education at The Well Church in Brighton, Michigan, and is married with three children. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter, or at his blog, Sojourner Theology.