The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Dec 20, 2018

Teaching a Directed Study on the Septuagint

I have the privilege of doing a one-on-one directed study on the Septuagint with one of our seminary students here at BTS. I'm obviously not a Septuagint scholar nor a specialist (though I have contributed two published academic pieces on the NT use of the LXX, including an article in BBR) Consequently, this is somewhat of a learning experience for me as well.

Obviously the starting point is Septuaginta: A Reader's Edition, and the entire world of biblical academia owes Gregory Lanier and William Ross a debt of gratitude for their hard work on this! I required my student to purchase that, as well as the classic work by Jobes and Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint, 2nd ed., as well as Jennifer Dines' The Septuagint. In addition, I just acquired a copy of Takamitsu Muraoka's incredible achievement, A Syntax of Septuagint Greek, and I will be making it available to my student (for obvious reasons he doesn't have to buy it; it's not cheap!)

From there I have given him a ton of outside reading from other sources, some quizzes, one test, and two major projects. This is a directed study, so not how I would handle a regular class. With that in mind, here's what my syllabus looks like:
[Please dont mind the formatting; its tough to copy and paste directly from a Word doc. to a blog and still retain the formatting]
[Also: Im interested in feedback, especially if Ive missed some must-readEnglish sources].

Introduction to the Septuagint (OT 745)

Theme Scripture: LXX Isaiah 53:5—αὐτὸς δὲ ἐτραυματίσθη διὰ τὰς ἀνομίας ἡμῶν καὶ μεμαλάκισται διὰ τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν.παιδεία εἰρήνης ἡμῶν ἐπ᾽αὐτόν, τῷ μώλωπι αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς ἰάθημεν.
A. Description: “An introduction to the Septuagint with emphasis on its social and theological significance and how it compares with the Masoretic text. The course addresses the origins of the LXX, its use by the NT writers, translation technique and theology in the LXX when compared to the MT, its theological significance for modern Christians, and its use in textual criticism.”
*Prerequisites: AL511 (“Introduction to New Testament Exegesis”) and AL632 (“Principles of Hebrew Exegesis”). Septuagint OT 745 should be considered an advanced M.Div. OT elective or, alternatively, a Th.M. class.

B.  Course objectives. Having taken this class, the student should be able to competently:
1. Explain the basic facts about the existence of the Septuagint.
2. Read and translate the Septuagint (with appropriate helps).
3. Analyze the Septuagint theologically and linguistically in comparison to the Hebrew Masoreti
text and New Testament citations (with, at a minimum, an awareness of the Dead Sea Scrolls).
4. Grapple honestly with the theological significance of both the existence and the preservation of
the Septuagint.
5. Discuss key New Testament citations that utilize the Septuagint when it differs from the MT, 
offering a reasonable rationale (when possible) for why the inspired NT author did this.
6. Know the major works that have contributed to modern scholarship on the Septuagint, and those areas where work still needs to be done.

C. Required textbooks 
1. Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition, eds. Gregory R. Lanier and William A. Ross 
(Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 2018).
2. Karen H. Jobes and Moisés Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015).
3. Jennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint, Understanding the Bible and Its World (London: T&T Clark, 2004).
*There will be a significant amount of reading from other books and articles, but the 
above three books are those that the student should personally own.
*Digital formats for all books are acceptable.
*Throughout the class the student will be required to utilize T. Muraoka, A Syntax of 
Septuagint Greek (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2016).

D. Grading
1. LXX translation quizzes (5%)
2. LXX and MT comparative analysis quizzes (5%)
3. LXX overview exam (5%)
4. Reading (15%)
*Total reading is approx. 1,090 pages plus 17 chapters of reading in the LXX 
(with one of those chapters read side-by-side with the Hebrew), plus portions of 
five letters between Augustine and Jerome.
5. Project 1: Textual and Translation Analysis (30%)
6. Project 2: Theology of the NT Use of the LXX (30%)
7. Memorization (3%)
8. Participation (5%)
9. Guest lecture in the professor’s Spring class “Elements of Hebrew Syntax” on “The Septuagint: What it is and why it matters.” (2%) [If this lecture does not work out, grading will be recalculated accordingly]. 

E. Class progression and projects: The class is divided into four “phases” revolving around four meetings between student and teacher. Each phase will focus on specific aspects of Septuagint research and knowledge, and each phase will contain its own cluster of requirements.

Meeting 1
This meeting will focus on the expectations of the class, the required projects, and the basic facts about the Septuagint and its significance. In addition, the professor and student will together spend some time reading and analyzing select LXX texts (initially, we will focus strictly on the Greek, not yet on the Hebrew). The professor will at this point make sure the student is up to speed on some developments in the study of Koine Greek, especially verbal aspect theory and deponency, and will discuss how this may or may not be relevant for the study of the LXX. Finally, the professor will provide the student with a study guide for the sole exam in this class.

Phase 1: Introduction
This phase is meant to introduce the student to the basic facts about the LXX and its importance. The student will familiarize himself with the Septuagint by reading it in the Greek. The reading will introduce the student to the basic issues surrounding the LXX and its significance for the early church.

Assignments for Phase 1
1. Jobes and Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint, 2nd ed., in its entirety (approx. 380 pages).
2. Genesis 1–3 and Psalms 1–2 in the Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition.
3. The exchange between Augustine and Jerome:
a. Augustine, Letter 28 (to Jerome), chapter 2.
b. Augustine, Letter 71 (to Jerome), chapters 2–3.
c. Jerome, Letter 72 (to Augustine), chapter 3.
d. Jerome, Letter 75 (to Augustine), chapter 1 (part 1) and chapters 6–7.
e. Augustine, Letter 82 (to Jerome), chapter 5.
4. Timothy E. Miller, “An Evangelical Apology for the Septuagint,” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journalvol. 22 (2017): 35–55.
5. David A. deSilva, “Five Papyrus Fragments of Greek Exodus,” Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies(BIOSCS) vol. 40 (2007): 1–29.

6. Karen Jobes and Moisés Silva, “Response to James Barr’s Review of Invitation to the Septuagint,” BIOSCS vol. 35 (2002): 43–46.
7. Karen H. Jobes, “When God Spoke Greek: The Place of the Greek Bible in Evangelical Scholarship,” Bulletin for Biblical Researchvol. 16.2 (2006): 219–236. 
8. W. Edward Glenny, “The Septuagint and Biblical Theology,” Themeliosvol. 41.2 (August 2016): 263–278.

Meeting 2
During this meeting, the student and professor will discuss the material read during phase 1, as well as the various issues involved in the study of the LXX. The professor and student will spend more time reading and discussing passages from the LXX together, this time with reference to the Hebrew text. 

Phase 2: Reading, translating, and appreciating the LXX
During this phase, the student should spend a significant amount of time reading and analyzing the LXX Greek text, gain a solid understanding of the history of the LXX, its key manuscripts, and the key figures involved in its reception, begin to grapple with LXX lexicography, and develop a working knowledge of the Apocrypha and its significance for NT studies.

Assignments for Phase 2:
1. Read all of Dines, The Septuagint(approx. 150 pages).
2. Read LXX Genesis 4–10.
3. Take three quizzes (proctored) on basic LXX translation and syntactical analysis. The student will be allowed to use Muraoka’s Syntax of Septuagint Greekand oneNT syntax of his or her choice.
4. Take an exam covering the basic facts of the LXX (any time before meeting #3). No helps allowed. A study guide will be provided during “Meeting 1.”
5. Harold P. Scanlin, “Charles Thomson: Philadelphia Patriot and Bible Translator,” BIOSCS vol. 39 (2006):115–132.
6. Chapter 4, “Staying Jewish: Language and Identity in the Greek Bible,” from Tessa Rajak, Translation and Survival: The Greek Bible of the Ancient Jewish Diaspora(20 pages).
7. Jan Joosten, “Varieties of Greek in the Septuagint and the New Testament,” pages 22–45 in The New Cambridge History of the Bible: From the Beginnings to 600, eds. James Carleton Paget and Joachim Schaper (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
8. Cameron Boyd–Taylor, “Lexicography and Interlanguage—Gaining our Bearings,” BIOSCS vol. 37 (2004): 55–62.
9. Martha L. Wade, “Evaluating Lexical Consistency in the Old Greek Bible,” BIOSCSvol. 33 (2000): 53–75.
10. John A. L. Lee, “Ἀποσκεγη in the Septuagint,” Journal of Theological Studies
vol. 23.2 (Oct 1972): 430–437.
11. Dirk Büchner, “A Cultic Term (ἁμαρτία) in the Septuagint: Its Meaning and Use from the Third Century B.C.E. until the New Testament,” BIOSCSvol. 42 (2009).
12. Takamitsu Muraoka, “How to Analyse and Translate the Idiomatic Phrase 
יִתֵּן מִי,” BIOSCS vol. 33 (2000): 47–52.
13. Jonathan T. Pennington, “‘Heaven’ and ‘Heavens’ in the LXX: Exploring the Relationship between שָׁמַיִםand οὐρανός,” BIOSCSvol. 36 (2003): 39–59.
14. David Lincicum, “The Epigraphic Habit and the Biblical Text: Inscriptions as a Source for the Study of the Greek Bible,” BIOSCSvol. 41 (2008): 84–92.

Meeting 3
During this meeting, the professor and student will discuss the material read during “phase 2” and the methodology for cross-textual analysis. The professor and student will put this into practice by analyzing together various texts in both their Greek and Hebrew forms, discussing such matters as translator style and faithfulness (or lack thereof) to the source text, anomalies in how the LXX might differ from the Hebrew, possibilities of a different Vorlage, etc. In the process, the professor and student will discuss Hebrew vs. Greek syntax, and how the former might be appropriately rendered into the latter. Finally, the professor and student will begin to discuss the significance of NT use of the OT when such usage is clearly LXX.

Phase 3Cross-textual analysis
At this point, the student should begin to gain competency in analyzing the Greek side-by-side with the Hebrew MT and begin to develop a methodology for analyzing NT use of the LXX including possible NT interaction with the Apocrypha.

Assignments for Phase 3:
1. Read LXX Genesis 11–15. The LXX of Genesis 15 should be read in conjunction with the Hebrew MT.
2. Three quizzes on cross textual analysis between the LXX and the MT. The student should utilize Muraoka’sSyntax, one Hebrew syntax of his choice, and one Greek syntax of his choice.
3. Anssi Voitila, “Some Remarks on the Perfect Indicative in the Septuagint,” BIOSCSvol. 26 (1993): 11–16.
4. David Cleaver–Bartholomew, “One Text, Two Interpretations: Habakkuk OG and MT Compared,” BIOSCSvol. 42 (2009): 52–67.
5. P. J. Williams, “The LXX of 1 Chronicles 5:1–2 as an Exposition of Genesis 48–49,” Tyndale Bulletinvol. 49.2 (1998): 369–71.
6. Deborah Levine Gera, “Translating Hebrew Poetry into Greek Poetry,” BIOSCSvol. 40 (2007): 107–120.
7. Arie van der Kooij, “A Short Commentary on Some Verses of the Old Greek of Isaiah 23,” BIOSCSvol. 15 (1982): 36–50.
8. Nicholas Peterson, “An Analysis of Two Early LXX Manuscripts from Qumran: 4QLXXNum and 4QLXXLeva in the Light of Previous Studies,” Bulletin for Biblical Research vol. 19.4 (2009): 481–510.
9. Chapter 2, “Identifying a Source as Greek or Hebrew,” in R. Timothy McLay, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research(40 pages).
10. Paul A. Himes, “Why Did Peter Change the Septuagint? A Reexamination of the 
Significance of the Use of Τίθημιin 1 Peter 2:6,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 
vol. 26.2(2016): 71–111.
11. Jonathan A. Linebaugh, “Announcing the Human: Rethinking the Relationship Between Wisdom of Solomon 13–15 and Romans 1.18–2.11,” New Testament Studies vol. 57 (2011):  214–237.
12. Paul A. Himes, “Wisdom and the Sojourning Saints or Christ and the Wandering Sinners? The Wilderness Wandering Motif in Hebrews as a Reaction to Wisdom of Solomon,” pages 227–249 in Getting into the Text: New Testament Essays in Honor of David Alan Black, eds. Daniel L. Akin and Thomas W. Hudgins (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2017).
13. Edmon L. Gallagher, “Augustine on the Hebrew Bible,” The Journal of Theological Studiesvol. 67.1 (April 2016): 97–114.
14. Matthew Flannagan, “Feticide, The Masoretic Text, and the Septuagint,” Westminster Theological Journal vol. 74.1 (Spring 2012): 59–84.
15. Paul D. Wegner, “Current Trends in Old Testament Textual Criticism,” Bulletin for Biblical Researchvol. 23.4 (2013): 461–480.
16. Martin Rösel, “The Text-Critical Value of Septuagint-Genesis,” BIOSCSvol. 31 (1998): 62–70.
17. William A. Ross, “Text-Critical Question Begging in Nahum 1,2–8: Re-evaluating the Evidence and Arguments,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft vol. 127.3 (2015): 459–74.
18. Albert Pietersma, “Septuagint Research: A Plea for a Return to Basic Issues,” Vetus Testamentumvol. 35.3 (July 1985): 296–311.

Meeting 4
During this meeting, the professor and student will chart a path for “Project A” and “Project B,” paying special attention to the theological relevance of the LXX both for the NT era and for today. The professor will encourage the student towards a balanced perspective on the LXX that avoids the two extremes of ignoring it on the one hand (or, even worse, denying its existence) and replacing the Hebrew with it as the authoritative OT text on the other hand. Finally, the professor and student will discuss the relevance (if any) of the LXX for textual criticism of the Old Testament. If there is time, the professor and student will discuss the professor’s own LXX-related projects.

Assignments for Phase 4:
1. “Project A”: A thorough textual and translation analysis of a significant portion of the LXX in comparison with the Hebrew. [A chapter from one of the minor prophets]
2. “Project B”: The development of a coherent “theology of the Septuagint” that appropriately grapples with its role in Hebrew History, its use by NT authors, and its relevance for today, all fitting within a strong independent Baptist perspective on inerrancy.
*The student is encouraged to consult with the professor and/or provide updates in the process of working on these two projects.

Guidelines for the two projects
A. Textual and syntactical analysis of an LXX passage.
1. The student will choose one chapter from one of the minor prophets that contains a NT citation (a citation that is most likely from the LXX instead of the MT, or at least a citation that could have been either). The student is free to use Archer and 
Chirichigno’s Old Testament Quotations in the New(or any other secondary sources) 
as a guide for finding a suitable chapter.
2. The point of this paper is to provide a full-scale analysis of the LXX as compared to the MT.
3. After an introductory overview of this particular book of “The Twelve” in LXX form (appropriately citing the major scholarly sources), the student will go verse-by-verse, commentary-style, and analyze the LXX in relation to the Hebrew (full Hebrew and Greek text should be provided for each verse in the paper). The student is seeking to answer the following questions:
 a. Does the LXX translation exhibit any unique characteristics?
 b. Are there any lexical or syntactical oddities? If so, would such an oddity be 
 best explained via translator style, theological interpretation, a different 
 Vorlage, or some combination of the above?
 c. Does the LXX translator exhibit any unique perspectives compared to the MT, 
 especially theological perspectives? In other words, would a sermon from the 
 LXX preach differently than a sermon from the MT?
 4. The student will pay close attention to any passage(s) cited by a New Testament 
 author, seeking to answer the following questions:
 a. Why did the NT author cite the LXX instead of the MT? The simple answer 
 may be “because it was the translation his audience was using”; however, the 
 student should be open to more complicated explanations, as well.
 b. What role does this verse play in the NT author’s theology?
 c. Does the NT author seem to be drawing from the broader context of the LXX 
 verse under discussion?
 5. The conclusion will focus on general observations that the student feels he can make about the passage, including any areas that are unresolved and need further study.
6. There is no minimum or maximum page limit. The student is expected to take as long as necessary to provide a solid analysis.
7. There is no specific required number of sources. However, the student will be expected to utilize both LXX and Hebrew syntaxes as well as the best critical commentaries (especially those that discuss the LXX). In addition, the student should evidence awareness of key articles, monographs, or dissertations which discuss this particular chapter. In other words, grading will depend less on the number of sources and more on whether or not the student has evidenced knowledge of the most important sources for this kind of work.
8. Generally speaking, the student should follow BTS formatting and guidelines for this paper. When laying out the text of Greek and Hebrew for a particular verse, however, the student should make sure they are side-by-side, either using a “Table” in MS Word or using two columns via an “insert section” option.
9. The student is strongly encouraged to use Unicode front for Greek and Hebrew (e.g., Tyndale or SBL), in order to ensure that the fonts will show up properly when the project is sent as a MS Word document to the professor.

B. The Theological Significance of the LXX
1. The student will write an essay discussing the theological significance of the LXX for Christianity in both the 1st and the 21st centuries AD.
2. The student will do his best to explain how the NT writers approached the 
LXX, being careful not to generalize but also looking for any broad trends.
3. In the process, the student will analyze the following passages and explain why, in 
each case, the NT author (or speaker) went with the LXX over the MT (if he did), and 
why it matters:
a. Isaiah 42:1–4 in Matthew 12:18–21
b. Genesis 11:12–13 cited in Luke 3:36.
c. Habakkuk 2:4 cited in Romans 1:17.
d. Psalm 2:9, cited in Revelation 2:27.
e. Psalm 96:7 [MT 97:7] in Hebrews 1:6.
f. Amos 9:12 in Acts 15:17 (part of a longer quotation).
4. The student will then discuss the significance of the LXX for today (21st century), 
including any relevance it might have for pastoral and missions work.
5. There is no page limit, over or under. The student should simply ensure that he has 
adequately dealt with the topic.
6. There is no minimum number of required sources. However, the student should 
make sure he or she interacts with key articles (e.g., Glenny, “Septuagint and Biblical Theology”) and monographs (e.g., Law, When God Spoke Greek) that discuss the theological significanceof the Septuagint. When discussing the NT citations of the OT, the student should plan on consulting the top two or three commentaries for each citation, both on the side of the NT and on the side of the OT.

Bibliography: Some relevant English books for Septuagint study
*In addition to the books listed below, the student should be aware of 
(1.) “The Septuagint Commentary” series (not completed yet). The series so far has 13 books out (both canonical and non-canonical LXX). E.g., W. Edward Glenny, 
Micah: A Commentary based on Micah in Codex Vaticanus. The series is published 
by Brill (and thus, unfortunately, prohibitively expensive!).
(2.) The Göttingen Septuagintaseries (published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), an ongoing project which is probably the most important source for any study of the 
Septuagint that involves textual criticism. The series is approximately 2/3 complete.

1. Brotzman, Ellis R., and Eric J. Tully. Old Testament Textual Criticism: A Practical Introduction2nded. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016.
2. Carson, D. A., and G. K. Beale. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old TestamentGrand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.
3. Chamberlain, Gary Alan. The Greek of the Septuagint: A Supplemental Lexicon. Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 2011.
4. Conybeare, F. C., and St. George Stock. Grammar of Septuagint Greek: With Selected Readings, Vocabularies, and Updated Indexes. Reprint. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.
5.Dines, Jennifer M. The Septuagint. Understanding the Bible and Its World. London: T&T Clark, 2004.
6. Evans, T. V. Verbal Syntax in the Greek Pentateuch. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
7. Hatch, Edwin, and Henry A. Redpath. A Concordance to the Septuagint and the Other Greek Versions of the Old Testament. 2nded. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1998.
8. Hengel, Martin. The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.
9. Hiebert, Robert J. V., ed. “Translation Is Required”: The Septuagint in Retrospect and ProspectSBL Septuagint and Cognate Studies 56. Atlanta: SBL, 2010.
10. Jellicoe, Sidney. The Septuagint and Modern Study. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968.
11. Jobes, Karen H., eds. Discovering the Septuagint: A Guided Reader. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2016.
12. Jobes, Karen H., and Moisés Silva. Invitation to the Septuagint, 2nded. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.
13. Law, Timothy Michael. When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
14. Lee, J. A. L. A Lexical Study of the Septuagint Version of the Pentateuch. SBL Septuagint and Cognate Studies. Chico, CA: Scholars, 1983.
15. Longenecker, Richard N. Biblical Exegesis of the Apostolic Period. 2nded. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999.
16. Marcos, Natalio Fernández. The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Version of the Bible. Trans. Wilfred G. E. Watson. Atlanta, SBL: 2009.
17. McLay, R. Timothy.  The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003.
18. Muraoka, T. A Syntax of Septuagint Greek. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2016.
19. Muraoka, T. A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2009.
20. Muraoka, T. A Greek-Hebrew/Aramaic Two-way Index to the Septuagint. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2010.
21. Olofsson, S. God Is My Rock: A Study of Translation Technique and Theological Exegesis in the Septuagint. Coniectanea Biblical Old Testament 31. Stockholm: Amqvist & Wiksell, 1990.
22. Rajak, Tessa. Translation and Survival: The Greek Bible of the Ancient Jewish DiasporaOxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
23. Swete, H. B. An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1914.
24. Taylor, Bernard, ed. Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint. Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 2009.
25. Thackeray, Henry St. John. A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek. Vol. 1: Introduction, Orthography and Accidence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909. Note that Thackeray only completed the first volume.

26. Tov, Emanuel. The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2015.

Dec 6, 2018

Robert Yarbrough's new Pillar commentary on the pastoral epistles: a mini-review

My father and I have the privilege of co-teaching "Pastoral Epistles" to our preacher boys here at BCM. My father has 30+ years experience of pastoring and church-planting, while I took the PE as a doctoral course under NT scholar Benjamin Merkle and have since contributed two articles on the pastorals (published in Filologia Neotestamentaria and The Bible Translator). We have a lot of fun building off of each other and goofing around (believe me, it's a great privilege and pleasure to co-teach a class with one's father!). The class has been excellent so far, with a lot of discussion.

Now, a new commentary has just come out, the first major evangelical commentary on the pastorals in a long time: Robert W. Yarbrough, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018). I'd like to offer a mini-review on this work. Bottom line: a very useful conservative evangelical commentary with some key, unique contributions that nonetheless will probably not replace the "big four" (Knight, Mounce, Marshall, and Towner) in usefulness. In other words, it definitely belongs in your library (individual or institutional) but will probably not be a textbook at either the college level or seminary level.

I am going to offer a brief analysis in four key areas that I feel are key to judging a commentary: 1. contribution, 2. general content and writing, 3. research, and 4. treatment of controversial issues. The first area is "mostly good," the second one is "very good", while #s 3 and 4 I feel are "good, but with some disappointments."

1. Contribution. Robert Yarbrough is a tier-1 New Testament scholar who teaches at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis (he has also taught at Trinity and Wheaton). His list of contributions to scholarship is massive, including especially the Baker Exegetical commentary on 1-3 John. Although he is not a specialist in the Pastoral Epistles, he has contributed broadly to New Testament scholarship and has some interesting things to say on the Pastorals. His section on "Paul as Working Pastor: Exposing an Open Ethical Secret," is excellent (though adapted from previous material). The strength here, then, is that Yarbrough is without a doubt a Pauline scholar, and this strength carries throughout the book. Thus the book is especially valuable when dealing with aspects of the PE that intersect especially with Pauline theology (e.g., his treatment of 1Tim 1:15 is excellent and very informed by the rest of Pauline theology). This is, of course, linked to Yarbrough's conservative treatment of the authorship of the PE, which I can appreciate (though, dear reader, do not go to this commentary for a robust defense of Pauline authorship; go to Robert Mounce's Word Biblical Commentary instead). However, since Yarbrough is not a PE specialist (to my knowledge none of his other books focused on the PE, and he seems to only have one journal article that deals specifically with something in the PE), his contribution to PE scholarship in the PNTC series is not as robust as it might have been, perhaps. 
[Note added 8/22/20. To be fair, however: my friend Chuck, in the comments section, notes where Dr. Yarbrough has contributed a significant number of professional papers on the PE. He's perhaps more of a specialist than my initial comments may lead one to believe]

As far as the introduction section of the book, this is lacking in some areas that other commentaries spend more time on (e.g., as noted above, see authorship). On the other hand, Yarbrough has some excellent material in the introduction that you won't see in other commentaries, such as his expansion on Thomas Oden's "eight thesis" on the PE. 

2. General Content and Writing. Overall, this book is a solid commentary to have an your shelf (whether pastoral or academic) and should definitely be in every seminary library. This is a consistent, solid, scholarly treatment of the pastoral epistles by an author who is broadly read and fairly well-versed in PE scholarship (though not as well as he could have been; see below for some mild critique).

The book is well-written. While both my father and I felt it was a bit too technical for a college class (so we're sticking with Donald Guthrie's Tyndale commentary for now), we are still requiring our students to read some small portions from his book. Once again, Yarbrough is an excellent writer, and for somebody at the seminary level this is a good read. Also, as appropriate for a commentary within the Pillar series, Yarbrough interacts very well with the Greek, though not in an overly-technical way (à la the WBC series).

3. Research. On the plus side, Yarbrough has a fairly good grasp of PE scholarship, and I felt his level of interaction with primary/ancient sources was excellent. On the downside, there are some lacuna. He never actually cites Ceslas Spicq (though he mentions him in passing, but he never cites him), which is a pity because Spicq is one of the essential scholars on the PE. Also, at times it appears Yarbrough is not quite as caught up on the most recent journal articles. For example, Southeastern Theological Review devoted an entire issue to the PE (Winter 2016, which should have been enough time to be noticed by Yarbrough) with articles by Swinson, Couser, Bumgardner, and Stiekes, plus an extremely helpful "literature review" by Charles J. Bumgardner. In addition, his commentary is not as "discourse sensitive" as I would have hoped, especially in this modern era. For example, the significant work by Ray Van Neste on "Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles" is not cited, so far as I could tell. To that I would add that any exegetical commentary in this day and era should probably be citing Steven Runge's Discourse Grammar of the New Testament (a book I require for all my "Intro to NT Exegesis students") or similar works, but that's just my opinion.

I counted approximately 335 sources (including primary) in the bibliography. This is ok, but not really spectacular, in my opinion. As noted below, when it comes to the discussion of "saved through childbearing," Yarbrough's bibliography is not near as good as it should have been.

In a nutshell, Yarbrough's engagement with primary sources is better than his engagement with secondary sources in this commentary (based on what I was expecting).

4. Treatment of controversial issues. In many areas, I feel Yarbrough does an excellent job. For example, although he definitely trends towards the complementarian side in issues of women in ministry (as do I), he covers a lot of ground very effectively and I feel he is generally fair to egalitarian evangelicals, even while disagreeing with them (e.g., page 185; to be fair, egalitarian evangelicals might disagree). At the very least, he is very clear on what the positions and issues are.

Having said that, in some areas he glosses over complicated issues way to quickly. I have no wish to be overly negative, but his treatment of "saved through childbearing" is woefully inadequate (see especially page 187). First, he does not evidence knowledge of some important recent articles that grapple with this issue (e.g., Moyer Hubbard in JETS vol. 55.4 and Andrew Spurgeon in JETS vol. 56.3--both of these articles of are significant: Hubbard for his background study on maternal mortality in childbirth, and Spurgeon for his discussion of the theology of Genesis 2-3 in 1Tim 2; also worth noting, Sandra L. Glahn in BibSac vol. 172.687-688, dealing with the background of Artemis; Yarbrough does not cite any of these scholars). He does not deal at all with George W. Knight's (NIGTC) objections to the traditional reformed soteriological view, and dismisses with two sentences the idea that tēs teknogonias might refer to the Messiah. He mentions nobody that specifically holds that view (George Knight is one of its ablest defenders) and simply refers the reader to an essay by Thomas Schreiner to refute it. This falls far short of what I would have expected (indeed, what I was hoping for) from a scholar of Dr. Yarbrough's caliber. In addition, sometimes Yarbrough offers more of a survey of scholarship rather than a dialogue (e.g., page 262-3 left me wanting a bit more discussing), but some of that might be just the constraints of the commentary series.

In conclusion: this is a great commentary by a great scholar. Its strengths are: 1. Overall solid conservative treatment on the Pastorals (i.e., pastors, this is a commentary you want in your library), 2. Some excellent unique theological thoughts, and 3. Solid writing. Its weaknesses are: 1. Some surprising lacuna among secondary sources, some of them quite important; and 2. Inadequate treatment of some topics, especially "saved through child-bearing" (seriously, with all due respect to Dr. Yarbrough, I'm kind of miffed about this one since I make a point of lecturing on it in both Hermeneutics [time permitting] and Pastoral Epistles; it's arguably the most difficult passage in the New Testament, and deserves a more thorough and fair treatment).

Once again, however, my criticisms should not detract from the value of this book. While it would not be my primary textbook even at a graduate level, it has valuable material in it that students should be aware of.