The following review first appeared in Scripture Bulletin 28/1 (January 1998), pp. 51-2. It is reproduced here with permission.
Paul Barnet, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K., 1997) pp. xxx + 662 ISBN: 0-8028-2300-9 $45.00 / £30.00
Paul Barnet's commentary on 2 Corinthians is the latest in a series of replacement volumes in the series New International Commentary on the New Testament. Barnet is the bishop of North Sydney and he speaks not only to scholars but also to pastors. From 2 Cor. 12 we discover that "There is no place for arrogance in ministry" (p. 567) and on 2 Cor. 7.1-7 Barnet tells us that "Pastors, too, have feelings, and their ministry is exercised in the context of relationships" (p. 371).
The New International Commentary is committed to providing "an exposition that is thorough and abreast of modern scholarship and at the same time loyal to the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God". How does this volume measure up to this standard? Barnet's bibliography is good and his discussion of it is often useful though it tends, inevitably, to be stronger on scholarship specifically connected with 2 Corinthians than it is with Pauline studies more generally -- there is little room for Sanders and Räisänen but plenty for Furnish and Fee. On 2 Corinthians Barnet has missed one classic, Harvey's article "Forty strokes save one" which would have added significantly to his discussion of 2 Cor. 11.23-33.
"Loyal[ty] to the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God" is duly observed by Barnet who argues (against the prevalent stream) for the integrity of the letter (pp. 15-25 and throughout the commentary). Barnet has no doubts about the historicity of Acts, the evidence of which he regularly uses to inform the picture of the apostle gleaned from 2 Corinthians. Where on the letter's integrity, though, Barnet has read all the relevant literature, on Pauline chronology there is very little -- neither Knox nor Jewett nor Lüdemann get a hearing.
This is a sober, unspectacular sort of commentary that is, overall, lucid and readable. Greek is limited to footnotes and verses are often "diagrammed" so that the reader can better appreciate the flow Paul's thought.
University of Birmingham