Obadiah: A Discourse Analysis of the Hebrew Bible, 2nd ed. (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament)

Ed. By Daniel I. Block

Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017. 144 pages. $21.99.

Reviewed by Rev. Brian T. Crane. Pastor, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Racine, WI on 01/29/2018

According to Dr. Daniel Block, the author of the Obadiah commentary and the general editor of this commentary series, the goal of this series is “to help readers of the Scriptures hear the messages that the human and divine authors intended to communicate…by paying careful attention to the literary, discourse, and rhetorical strategies employed by the inspired authors to get their message across” (13). Block succeeded in this endeavor in his treatment of Obadiah.

The commentary begins with a short, but thorough, introduction to Obadiah. Block holds a conservative view of the book and of Holy Scripture. The date presented for Obadiah’s composition, for example, corresponds with that found in The Lutheran Study Bible.

I found the discussion of the historical background of Obadiah to be very helpful. Block describes the context of the book and shows the intertextual connections between Obadiah and the other Old Testament prophets, especially Jeremiah.

Following the introduction, the commentary examines the individual text units of Obadiah. Each section highlights the main idea of the passage, its literary context, a translation and exegetical outline with Hebrew layout, its structure and literary form, and an explanation of the text. In keeping with the goal of the commentary series, special emphasis is placed upon highlighting the literary and rhetorical techniques that Obadiah uses to communicate his message.

The commentary concludes with a chapter on Obadiah’s canonical and practical significance. It is finally here, in the last three pages, where Block discusses the connection between Obadiah and Jesus. I found this to be the commentary’s one major weakness because the discussion is so brief and isolated. Notwithstanding this concern, however, I can recommend Block’s work for those who wish to learn more about the background and literary style of this important, but often neglected, book of Holy Scripture.