Bruce’s Habakkuk Commentary

 I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the commentary series on the Minor Prophets that Thomas McComiskey edited (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993). I appreciate the layout: the top half of the page has textual and syntactical notes and the bottom half of the page is the commentary section.  The commentators also give their own translation and compare it to the NRSV.  The font is handsome and the formatting makes the commentary easy to read and use.  Contributors include Baldwin, Waltke, Longman, Motyer, Dillard, Niehaus, and Bruce (yes, F. F. Bruce of NT scholarship).

For one example of why I like this commentary set, I’ll use a section of Bruce’s commentary on Habakkuk since I’ve been preaching through this OT minor prophet on Sunday evenings.

Bruce’s translation of 1:13: “You are too pure of eyes to behold wrongdoing / you cannot look on evil /  why do you look on treacherous people and remain silent / when the wicked swallows up one more righteous than himself?”

Since the textual/syntactical notes are to detailed to quote here, I’ll move to his commentary on Habakkuk 1:13.

“…Here is his (Habakkuk’s) question: Should not Yahweh’s instrument for the accomplishment of his purpose reflect something of his own purity and righteousness?  …(The Chaldeans/Babylonians) display the same evil qualities as those against whom they were executing Yahweh’s judgment, and on a greater scale.  The cure is far worse than the disease! The righteous among God’s people suffer from the brutality of the invaders.  Why does God not intervene?  Habakkuk might have said, like one of the psalmists in a similar situation, ‘Why do you hold back your hand; why do you keep your hand in your bosom?’ (Ps. 74:11).  Does God not realize that his own reputation is at stake?”

I realize it’s tough to just quote a few comments on a lesser known verse from a minor prophet.  However, after translating, studying, and reading other commentaries, I think Bruce’s summary here is a good description of Habakkuk’s lament to Yahweh due to the surprising circumstances (cf. 1:5). 

If you go through the minor prophets, I’d strongly recommend this series.  Even if you can’t read Hebrew, or if your Hebrew is rusty, you’ll still benefit from the comments.  (Just noticed this – the WTS bookstore has it on sale/clearance for $28.00  as of April 20.)

shane lems

sunnyside wa