Problems with Three New Testament Commentaries

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. is an outstanding publisher of academic books in the United States. Their many books are found in libraries around the world and in the libraries of professors, pastors, and lay people. I have hundreds of books published by Eerdmans in my own library. Their editorial staff is first rate. One seldom finds a mistake in a book published by Eerdmans.

However, notwithstanding the excellent work of the many editors at Eerdmans, sometimes problems arise that demand full attention from the editorial staff. This is what happened recently with three commentaries published by Eerdmans. In a public communication dated August 15, 2016, Eerdmans published the following statement about three New Testament commentaries:

At the beginning of July 2016, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. received allegations against one of its New Testament commentaries and immediately undertook a careful investigation. Eerdmans is now withdrawing that book and two others by the same author.

Eerdmans editors compared the text of The Letter to the Hebrews (Pillar New Testament Commentary, 2010) with various secondary sources and submitted findings to external experts for verification. Summing up the findings, Editor-in-chief James Ernest said, “Our own editors and our outside consultants agreed that what we found on the pages of this commentary runs afoul of commonly accepted standards with regard to the utilization and documentation of secondary sources. We agreed that the book could not be retained in print.”

Two other commentaries, Letter to the Ephesians (PNTC, 1999) and Epistle to the Philippians (New International Greek Testament Commentary, 1991) were also recalled because of problems with the proper use of documentation.

In response to the problems found in these three commentaries, Anita Eerdmans, president and publisher of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. issued the following statement:

Eerdmans is steadfastly committed to the highest ethical standards in academic and business practice, and we apologize to all who are negatively affected by this situation. Our Bible commentary series, among the best of their kind, are authored and edited by the field’s top scholars. The strong measures we are taking in this case are meant to underscore our firm belief that our commentary program is, and must remain, solid.

I agree with Ms. Eerdmans. The Bible commentaries published by Eerdmans are very good and well written. The authors of these commentaries are competent scholars who have excelled in their areas of study. I am one of those authors whose work has been published by Eerdmans. I will never have a problem with buying or recommending a book published by Eerdmans.

Eerdmans is offering credit to people who have bought any or all of these commentaries. If you have any of these three commentaries in your library or if you want to read Eerdmans’ statement on the recall of the commentaries, visit Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. on line.

Claude F. Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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