The First Book of Samuel | David Toshio Tsumura

Tsumura’s entry in Eerdman’s NICOT commentary series is strong. Here is where it’s most useful:

  1. Ancient Hebrew: The core of this commentary is Tsumura’s ability to bring out the meaning of the original language. Interconnections within the text and play-on-words come to life in English under Tsumura’s hand.
  2. Geography: There are many military exploits in 1 Samuel where the geography is taken for granted. Tsumura describes the relationship between towns and how the landscape would either benefit or imperil a military assault.
  3. Modern Translation Discrepancies: If you read 1 Samuel in a variety of English translations, you discover a number of different interpretive options. This is especially noticeable in a small group setting, where each participant has their own favored translation at hand. More than most Old Testament books, there are a number of differences between the MT and the LXX, which in turn leads to a plethora of English interpretations. Tsumura’s an expert guide at navigating the MT and LXX options.

My only real issue with Tsumura’s book was his lack of narrative perspective. The significance and theological implications of many events were passed over quite quickly. If you’re looking to wrestle with the implications of the narrative, read Brueggemann’s First and Second Samuel from the Interpretation commentary series alongside the NICOT offering. (Conversely, Brueggemann passes over a lot of the technical information that Tsumura has mastered.)

David Tsumura’s commentary is an excellent resource for any pastor or serious parishioner who wants to dive deeply into the Samuel, Saul, and David stories.

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