Book Review – CBC Obadiah (Richard Patterson)

25 pages are devoted to the single chapter book of Obadiah in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Volume 10. I have always viewed Obadiah as one of the more difficult books to get anything out of, and so I was looking forward to what is the first commentary I have read on it.

Introduction

We know little for certain of Obadiah’s identity, and Patterson does not state clearly what date he supposes, putting forth cases for both the sixth and ninth centuries BC. The basic theme of the book is the judgment of Edom.

Commentary

Perhaps due to the brevity of the book, this commentary is more detailed than others in the volume, who normally devote around three or four pages to a chapter as compared to almost 20 here. This means that the “notes” section is unusually thorough, allowing various exegetical issues to be discussed for each verse.

Patterson draws out various moral lessons for believers from the various sins of Edom that Obadiah draws attention to. Particularly the sin of pride is highlighted as a danger for Christians. The section cataloguing the sins of Edom against God’s people (Ob 1:10-14) gives rise to an extended discussion of when these events might have been dated.

Patterson shows how Jesus took up Obadiah’s metaphor of the “cup” of judgment (Ob 1:16; John 18:11). He explains how the prophecies of the defeat of Edom have come to pass already in history, but that often future events are “telescoped” together – every judgment is in one sense a “day of the Lord”. These prophecies find their ultimate fulfilment in the return of Jesus.

Conclusion

Overall this is a helpful guide to Obadiah’s message of judgment, although it is a little puzzling that after complaining that there wasn’t enough space to cover Amos as thoroughly as I would have liked, Obadiah gets covered in much greater detail.

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