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Spring 2003 · Vol. 32 No. 1 · pp. 138–39 

Book Review


Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 2002. 400 pages.

Reviewed by Raymond H. Reimer

Tom Yoder Neufeld has been teaching New Testament and Peace Studies at Conrad Grebel College in Waterloo, Ontario, since 1983; currently he is also director of Graduate Theological Studies. He has focused upon Ephesians since his own graduate studies.

Yoder Neufeld’s presentation begins with brief introductory comments on the themes, structure, provenience, date, context, and the pastoral and hermeneutical considerations of Ephesians. Not all readers will be satisfied with his approach to the epistle’s authorship. He succinctly offers rationale on both sides of the debate, and then essentially demurs from taking a position. His arguments for such restraint, however, are well worth pondering.

For each of the thirteen sections of his detailed interpretation of the text of Ephesians, a preview is offered (including comments on the structure of the text and an outline), followed by detailed explanatory notes. Yoder Neufeld then considers each passage within its biblical context, drawing together major topics and commenting upon their larger intent and background; this is one of the more fruitful dimensions of the volume. Reflection on the application of each passage within the life of the church follows. One quibble I have with this series is that more attention is not given to the way in which sixteenth-century Anabaptists read and interpreted the texts under consideration.

Following the detailed interpretation is an overall outline of the epistle, a schematic translation, and a variety of essays which backstop the interpretation of the text. The usual resources close out the volume: a map, bibliography, recommended resources, index, and a biographical description of Yoder Neufeld himself.

Several dimensions of this commentary stand out. The interpretation of the “household codes” in Ephesians 5:21–6:9 is cogent and provocative. Yoder Neufeld’s prior research into the “divine warrior” allows him to engage in a rich reading of the “armor of God” motif in Ephesians 6:10-20; he sees it as a call to action, equipping the church to wage God’s work of truth, justice, and peace. Throughout his interpretation, Yoder Neufeld stresses that worship and work are to be inseparably united within the life of believers.

The Believers Church Bible Commentaries do not intend to be the most technical available: specialized readers are referred elsewhere. Overall, the BCBC series is aimed at “all who seek more fully to understand {139} the original message of Scripture and its meaning for today—Sunday school teachers, members of Bible study groups, students, pastors, and other seekers.” This volume fulfills that intention well. It would be an excellent resource in any church library.

Raymond H. Reimer
Assoc. Prof. of Religion
Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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