How to Write a Commentary: Some initial questions

A while back I posted on how to write a commentary. My thoughts there were more general. SInce then I've had some time to reflect on the process more specifically in terms of what questions I should pose to myself as I get started. The fun for me through this process is not only writing a (hopefully) useful commentary, but also refining my exegetical method. So what follows here are lots of different questions about method and content I hope to answer along the way as I write. One central question: How does one come to understand the entirety of the argument of a biblical book and communicate that meaning in a way that is beneficial to the church while growing spiritually throughout the process?

Other important categories of questions:

1. Questions of philosophy

  • What preunderstandings do I bring to my study of the text?
  • Where am I in the hermeneutical spiral?
  • What's my own perspective?
  • What's my goal? Author's intent? Something else?
  • What should my stance be as I start my work?

2. Questions of method

  • There's a sense in which traditional seminary training does not prepare us for holistic work of this kind.
  • For example, in most textual criticism classes we deal with text critical problems in isolation, not within the context of the manuscripts in which they occur.
  • In most exegesis courses we understand how to study a word in context, but we don't really get a grasp of how to study words as building blocks of theology.
  • In New Testament Introduction we learn about special introduction, but we don't learn a lot about mirror reading.
  • So how should my method look? Should I write consecutive exegetical papers, or should I do something different?

3. Questions of theology

  • Where does Paul himself come into play? What should I know about his own theology? What should I know about his other books?
  • What should I know about the Judaism of his day? About the early church?
  • What should I know about the New Perspective on Paul? Is Galatians about justification by faith or Jews and Gentiles?

4. Questions of spirituality

  • How do I go through this task so that I grow?
  • Is it simply a matter of spiritual sensitivity? Or are there some active steps to take?

As I move forward in this process I hope to provide answers to all these questions. I'll discuss them occasionally here as they crystallize in my thinking. Any comments or interaction over these questions is welcome.