I ordered the new Wesley One Volume Commentary last week and was thrilled when it came in the mail. I remember a colleague mentioning working on commentary for one of the books for the volume a year or two ago, but otherwise didn’t know much about it. Here are my quick thoughts:
1. Kenneth J. Collins and Robert W. Wall are the editors.
This is a big positive.
Wall was a colleague and mentor during my time on the faculty at Seattle Pacific University. He gave a University lecture at SPU on John Wesley’s use of 1 John that is one of the best academic lectures I’ve ever heard.
Collins teaches historical theology and Wesley studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is one of the foremost and most prolific scholars of John Wesley currently teaching. I am frequently asked to recommend an accessible biography of John Wesley for laity and my recommendation is Collins’s A Real Christian: The Life of John Wesley.
2. The dedication is to Joel B. Green: “Faithful friend, respected colleague, and biblical scholar extraordinaire.”
It immediately struck me that Joel Green is the ideal person for such a dedication. This is a detail that may not mean much to the average person who buys the book, but it put a smile on my face. A lovely gesture.
3. “Introduction to a Wesleyan Theological Orientation” by Kenneth J. Collins is an excellent introduction to the topic.
While pastors and laity will benefit from a careful reading of the entire essay, the sections “How Sin Is Defined Is Crucial in Understanding the Liberties of Redemption” and “Regeneration Is Freedom from the Power of Sin” are especially helpful.
4. “Introduction to Wesleyan Biblical Interpretation” by Robert W. Wall is another excellent contribution.
Wall brilliantly sets up the purpose for this volume. Here is a succinct summary: “The purpose of the Wesley One Volume Commentary is to retrieve a ‘Wesleyan sense’ of scripture for the reader’s use in worship, catechesis, mission, and personal devotions” (xxii). The clear theological and ecclesial orientation of this volume is a major strength. Wall provides a robust introduction to Wesleyan biblical interpretation that is an important contribution.
5. The contributors come from a variety of Wesleyan/Methodist faith communities.
There are a number of United Methodist contributors, as one would expect and as there should be. The volume is strengthened by the intentional inclusion of scholars from (in alphabetical order): The African Methodist Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church in North America, The Church of God (Anderson), The Church of God (Cleveland), The Church of the Brethren, The Church of the Nazarene, The Episcopal Church, The Free Methodist Church, The Salvation Army, The Wesleyan Church, and The Wesleyan Church of Russia.
6. My first impression of the layout was underwhelming.
I like the design of the spine. I did not like the layout of the back cover as much. The interior layout did not make a positive first impression compared to comparable volumes. These things are subjective, so you may disagree with me.
My first impression is this a book every Wesleyan/Methodist pastor should have in their library. I also think it will be useful for engaged laity, particularly those who teach Sunday School classes. This is a book I will be consulting regularly in personal study of Scripture and in preparation to preach and teach the Bible. I am grateful to Abingdon for publishing it and to all of the scholars who contributed to it.
Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.