It is worthwhile to take a few moments to highlight some of the distinctive characteristics found in many commentaries that the Layered Bible series will purposefully seek to avoid. Namely:
- Focusing on establishing authority or authenticity. These commentaries will defer to other better-educated individuals for defense of inspiration, authenticity, authorship, dating, and so on wherever it is not integral to understanding the text. The commentaries begin with the presupposition that the text is authentic.
- Focused on delineating textual differences. While the commentaries will occasionally discuss textual variants, the series will not be interested in highlighting minor variations or in diving in-depth into debates about textual variants unless such variations have significant practical effect upon the interpretation of Scripture.
- Sermonic or devotional abstractions. Many study guides, devotional commentaries, and etc. feature a heavy load of stories and applications which do not directly relate to the text. Application will be expounded in brief with an emphasis towards discussion and application. The commentaries are meant to inform the student of information and concepts useful in the study of Scripture and to challenge to application – but the latter is meant to be accomplished primarily through encouraging the reader to struggle with the text individually and in group discussion.
- Groundbeaking or innovative. The series will not break new ground in theological insights nor feature controversial positions. It will adhere to the generally accepted evangelical (“orthodox”) positions throughout the commentary though alternative positions may be discussed as appropriate. The goal is to offer a foundation in evangelical understanding from whence further dialogue can be pursued as necessary.
- Eugene Peterson comments in an interview contained in Leadership Journal Summer 2011, “My task as a pastor was to show how the Bible got lived. Of course it’s important to show that the Bible is true, but we have theologians and apologists for that. I just accepted the fact it was true and didn’t bother much about that. I needed to be a witness to people in my congregation that everything in the Bible is livable and to try to avoid abstractions about big truths, big doctrines. I wanted to know how these ideas got lived in the immediate circumstances of people’s lives at work, in the town, and in the family.” (pg. 51) This fairly reflects the goal of these commentaries, which I would suggest fall somewhere between devotional (which focus almost entirely on application) and academic (which focus mostly on technical questions). Perhaps we need a new category (or does it already exist?) called pastoral commentaries which balance an exposition of the technical in a concise manner that provides opportunity for application of the practical?↩