Book Review: Tchavdar S. Hadjiev, Joel and Amos (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary)
Hadjiev, Tchavdar S. Joel and Amos. Tyndale Old Testament Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2020. 194 pp. Pb. $25.00 Link to IVP Academic
This new volume in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series replaces the 1989 commentary by David Allan Hubbard. Tchavdar S. Hadjiev is lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew at Belfast Bible College as well as honorary lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast. He has previously published two monographs on Amos and Joel, The Composition and Redaction of the Book of Amos (BZAW 393; De Gruyter, 2009, reviewed here) and Joel, Obadiah, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: An Introduction and Study Guide (T&T Clark, 2020). In this new commentary Hadjiev provides historical context and concise exposition of the Hebrew text which will be helpful for anyone reading these two important prophets.
In the sixteen-page introduction to Joel, Hadjiev suggests that there is little evidence that demands an early date for the book of Joel and finds the post-exilic context helpful for understanding Joel three in particular. One of the major issues for any introduction on the book of Joel is the prophet’s use of other scripture. He provides a helpful chart of literary connections between Joel and other parts of the Old Testament. He recognizes the difficulty in identifying whether Joel intended a particular allusion. Regarding the message of Joel, he focuses on the goodness and mystery of God in the first two chapters of the book. Joel interprets a past event (a locust plague) as the Day of the Lord, God’s warning intended to draw people to repentance.
He describes Joel 2:29-3:21 [MT 3:1-4:21] as a “proto-apocalyptic vision: God’s plan for the future” and argues the symbolic use of names in Joel invite us to “denationalize the picture of ethnic conflicts” in Joel 3. “So Joel, read in the light of the New Testament, anticipates the work of Christ who triumphed over the powers of wickedness through the cross and who will destroy every ruler, authority and power, even death, the last enemy at his second coming” (15).
The introduction to Amos is longer than Joel, as expected given Hadjiev’s previous work on Amos (thirty-one pages). The first section of the introduction deals with Amos as a work of literature. He is clear, the book is “not a random collection of prophetic oracles but a complex literary work that exhibits considerable sophistication and skill” (59). He is interested in the final form of the book and does not interact with the often-complex source critical approaches to the book of Amos. This is not surprising considering the aims of the commentary series.
After outlining the structure of the book, Hadjiev engages in a “quest for the historical Amos,” supporting the traditional view that Amos was a layperson from Judah who prophesied for a brief period in the northern Kingdom during the reign of Jeroboam II (69). He summarizes the final years of the Kingdom of Israel, placing the prophetic book in the context of the Assyrian threats against Israel. He outlines briefly these socioeconomic conditions of Northern Israel society in the 8th century BC.
This background leads to the main theology of the book of Amos: the justice and righteousness of God. It is God who is on the side of the poor and the weak. God rejects the worship of the northern Kingdom and the threat of the day of the Lord is clear in the book. Yet Amos indicates Israel will repent and be restored in the future. The community which is rejected is not simply let go; Israel is going to be “reconfigured in rebuilt” (87). Here Hadjiev has in mind the booth of David passage in the 9:7-15. The restoration of the booth of David is “a worshiping community of people living in their restored cities, symbolized and led by the Jerusalem Temple” (191). The Christian interpretation of this passage in Acts 15 is based on the Septuagint, but Hadjiev cannot comment on the difference between the Hebrew Bible and the Greek translation in this brief commentary. In Acts, the restored booth of David incorporates the nations who seek the Lord in the light of the resurrection of Christ. Hadjiev concludes Acts 15 reinterprets “the military conquest of the nations… in spiritual terms, as the advance of the gospel which invites all peoples to seek the Lord in this new universal temple [the church]” (194).
In the main body of the commentary Hadjiev organizes the commentary into three sections: context, comment, and meaning. Both context and meaning are usually brief paragraphs. In the commentary itself, he precedes phrase by phrase based on the English text. Occasionally he refers to other secondary literature using in-text citations. Hebrew words appear in transliteration. Although necessarily brief given the confines of the Tyndale Old Testament commentary series, Hadjiev offers a clear exposition of the text which will be helpful four pastors and teachers preparing to present these two important Old Testament prophets to their congregations.
Other reviewed commentaries in third Tyndale series:
NB: Thanks to IVP Academic for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.