Thanks to the kind folks at Peeters I received an excellent new tool for anyone working on 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians a Bibliography. While this book may be the type of work that my undergraduate students laugh about (a book which only contains other books), it is a certainly a useful tool. I would actually like to have a book like this for each of Paul’s letters. If anyone knows of such a work for any of Paul’s other letters please let me know. Well now onto the review.
2 Corinthians A Bibliography, by Reimund Bieringer, Emmanuel Nathan, and Dominika Kurek-Chomycz. Leuven: Peeters, 2008. Pp. xx + 352. $113.
2 Corinthians A Bibliography aims to be a complete bibliography for academic publications on 2 Corinthians through 2007. It includes a staggering 1,900 works spanning 352 pages. While this is not an annotated bibliography, it is a useful work for anyone undertaking a research project which focuses on 2 Corinthians and should be on the shelves of every research library.
The bibliography is divided into four sections. The first section includes a list of all the commentaries written on 2 Corinthians. It is important to emphasize here the stated purpose of the work which is to include all of the “academic” works on 2 Corinthians. There are a slew of devotional or pastoral commentaries that are not included in this volume. It is not stated how the authors determined which commentaries were not academic enough to make this list, but it is certainly a useful distinction for anyone working on 2 Corinthians. Specifically individuals not aware of the academic qualities of a commentary series would benefit from consulting this list. Additionally, this is not merely a modern list of commentaries but includes commentaries spanning the history of Christianity by authors such as John Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas, and Martin Luther.
The second section is the most useful aspect of this bibliography. Each pericope of 2 Corinthians is given its own section and works are included which focus on the pericope in question. This is especially useful because many works do not contain the pericope on which they focus in their title. While it may be easy to search on-line databases to find works on 2 Corinthians, it is not always clear whether a work will be useful to one’s project. Thus by identifying the focus of each work, this bibliography spares the researcher the trouble of tracking down books that may, or may not, contain relevant information
Chapter three also provides assistance by isolating different themes within 2 Corinthians and classifying works on 2 Corinthians according to these themes. Over one hundred themes are included ranging from general topics such as holy spirit, God, and satan to specific topics such as the thorn in the flesh, the fool’s speech, and boasting. Additionally, there are broader research themes including textual criticism and rhetorical criticism. The usefulness of this work is demonstrated by examining any one of the themes. For example, this bibliography has identified twenty nine works that focus on Paul’s thorn in the flesh. While most of the examples would be easy to find in any thorough search, this work has already been done thus saving any researcher valuable time. Additionally, there are works with less obvious titles included such as “Qumran and the Weakness of Paul” by M. L. Barré.
The final section is an alphabetical list of every “academic” work on 2 Corinthians sorted by author. While it does not perform a specific function like the earlier chapters, it is important to include a section that lists all the works on 2 Corinthians.
This is an important work for a number of reasons. While one could protest that with the excellent on-line search engines available to New Testament scholars this book is unnecessary to a degree, this bibliography provides information not easily found in databases. Chapters 2 and 3. which group articles by pericope and topic. are especially important as this information can be difficult to ascertain without examining the book in question. In short, Bieringer, Nathan, and Kurek-Chomycz have done much of the initial legwork required for any serious study on 2 Corinthians. Later editions of this bibliography would be even more useful if a CD-Rom was included.
Although this bibliography is certainly a useful tool there is one issue that will prohibit most from purchasing it, the list price of 79 Euros or 113 dollars. At such a steep price this work will probably only be purchased by 2 Corinthians specialists and libraries. However, most who research 2 Corinthians have access to a library so this problem can easily be overcome. Request that your library purchase this volume as every serious research library should have this work on its shelves.