Ian LAMBRICHT, S.J. Second Corinthians: Sacra Pagina. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1999. pp. 256. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-8146-5971-7.
Reviewed by James ZEITZ, Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, TX 78207.

For those familiar with the Sacra Pagina commentaries on the books of the New Testament there is no need to repeat the explanation of the series title, “Sacra Pagina” –the Middle Ages’ name for Scripture—or the intent of this title: to study Scripture while being sensitive to its religious meaning, shaped by the context of the Catholic (in both senses) tradition. The first commentaries (Matthew, by the editor of the series: Daniel Harrington, S.J. and Luke) appeared in 1991. The last (the Pastoral Letters and Hebrews) were completed in 2007—the same year that the earliest commentaries have been reissued with updated bibliographies.

The series, which is still intended for biblical scholars and theologians, rather than the general reader, is valuable as a corrective to previous modern commentaries that focused exclusively on historical-critical issues. Its acknowledgement of the importance of the “sacredness” of Sacred Scripture corresponds to a new direction in biblical studies (see Luke Timothy Johnson and William Kurz, The Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship, 2002). A parallel trend to enlarge the historical-critical approach may also be seen in the Berit Olam series of commentaries (or “Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry”) on the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, Ian Lambrecht’s commentary on Second Corinthians, in carefully following the structure of Paul’s letter and defending the unity of 2 Corinthians, includes information important to a “narrative” approach.

Although all the Sacra Pagina commentaries conform to the intentions mentioned above, I note that Lambrecht’s commentary on 2 Corinthians is especially good at explaining the Greek text (both its grammatical nuances and the meaning of Paul’s original words), which can clarify many obscure meanings or produce new insights into Paul’s mind (E.g. Paul’s “surprising addition of ‘and daughters’,” when, in 2 Corinthians 6:17-18, he cites 2 Sam 7:14).

Regarding Lambrecht’s treatment of the structure of the letter, along with many modern commentators (such as Peter Ellis), he notes when Paul is using chiasm. However, his own “schematic survey of the contents” divides the body of the letter into five parts—without mentioning their parallelism in a chiasm (as Ellis does in Seven Pauline Letters). But, as mentioned above, he does generally argue for the integrity of the letter, after summarizing the main scholars who claimed the letter was composed of fragments (e.g. on 6:14-7:1: “The majority of exegetes are of the opinion it is a fragment”…”Nevertheless, more and more exegetes nowadays defend the Pauline authenticity and integrity”). Finally, I note that Lambrecht’s “Interpretation” sections—after the exegetical “Notes”—all include a section (c) Theological Reflection and a final section (d): Actualization. This is helpful for locating comments of pastoral interest and seems to be unique to Lambrecht (after quickly surveying other volumes of the Sacra Pagina commentaries).


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