As most of this blog’s readers know, well-known LewRockwell.com author and scholar Laurence Vance has joined the crew of LCC contributors. Recently, he sent me a copy of his latest book, Galatians 1 & 2: Exposition, Commentary, Application, to read and potentially review. It’s taken me a while to get around to it, but I have a few short descriptive comments on the material Laurence presents.
Laurence writes in the preface that he sought to write a very straight-forward commentary on the message of Galatians, and this book is his culminated effort so far. He says, “There is nothing like reading, studying, receiving, and trembling at the word of God for digging the truth of Scripture out of the New Testament.” It only addresses Galatians 1 and 2, which means it is a fairly short work as well (only 130 pages). A second volume may be published in the future, but Laurence makes no promises.
The book is very accessible to the student of Scripture unfamiliar with Biblical languages or the latest advancements in theological scholarship. No in-depth Greek analysis is used in the work, although it was obvious in the text (at least to me) that Laurence has substantial translation knowledge.
Laurence does not beat around the bush regarding his hermeneutical and historical approach to the book. He does not agree with the “new perspective on Paul” (which seminarian readers of LCC will understand) and assumes Pauline authorship rather than debates it. For his purposes, this is great. Laurence is seeking to keep things understandable and simple, and the added complexity of such debates is infrequently worth the trouble of inclusion.
Furthermore, I really like the formatting of the book itself. Often enough, lengthy discussions of verses require flipping back and forth between the page where the verse was initially quoted and the page where one is reading. In this commentary, though, Laurence quotes the verse at hand in the header of every page, no flipping around required. Plus, all Scripture quotations are in bold, allowing for easy skimming.
One section that I particularly liked was Laurence’s discussion of Galatians 2:16-21, which includes roughly the last 21 pages of the book. He launches into the topic of justification (one of those great –tion words of Scripture), and the exegesis is uplifting.
One minor criticism: Though Laurence does accurately depict many of the false theologies promulgated by various theological traditions, he actually includes my own denomination (Church of Christ) in his list of churches preaching “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6). Now, I know that some Churches of Christ have gone too far in application of “believe and be baptized” but I consider it a mis-characterization to have us blanket-labeled in this way. But, I hold no grudge as the criticism has been justly applied in the past. Hopefully I can continue to show Laurence that the COC is just as faithful to the Gospel as Laurence’s denomination (I believe that’s the Independent Baptists).
Overall, if you are studying Galatians 1-2 and want some solid commentary, I recommended you check out Laurence’s work especially since it is affordable ($13), accessible, and to the point.
You can procure a copy of Laurence’s book at Vance Publications.