Daniel Block

Daniel Block

Block, Daniel I. The New international commentary on the Old Testament THE BOOK OF EZEKIELChapters1-24. William B. Eerdmans, MI: Cambridge, 1998. (826 pages). Reviewed by Mogusu Nathan Nyambane

Daniel I. Block is a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He has written numerous scholarly articles and reference works and served as a senior translator for the New Living Translation. It has been a particular joy for Dr. Block to watch students, who often take introductory courses in Old Testament only because they are required to do so by the curriculum, suddenly awaken to the fact that the Old Testament is understandable and its message is both life-giving and relevant for modern, everyday life.

Dr. Block has published some books and essays in scholarly journals. The model for his investigation and the ministry was provided by Ezra, as articulated in Ezra 7:10: he resolved to study the laws of God and to practice them while teaching his disclosed will to Israel. By doing this, he regularly asked significant questions about scriptures which included: What does the biblical text say? Why does it mean like that? What is the meaning of the book to the initial audience? How does the message apply to me today? For Dr. Block to answer the questions adequately, he labors to make one discern both worlds from which the bible verses originated from and the world where modern people inhabit.

The other books he wrote are; The Gods of the Nations: Studies in Ancient Near Eastern National Theology. He was born in 1943. He attained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in the (the University of Liverpool, School of Archaeology and Oriental Studies) and he is an American/ Canadian Scholar of the Old Testament. Dr. Block is Gunther H. Knoedler Old Testament professor Emeritus at Wheaton College. He acquired his BEd at the (University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, 1968), Went to study at Friedrich Alexander University, Erlangen, 1968-1969), awarded BA (Saskatchewan University, Saskatoon, 1969), Master of Arts (MA) Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, 1973), D. Phil.( School of Archaeology and Oriental Studies, University of Liverpool, 1982). Volume 2covers chapters 25-48 and complete the two-volume commentary of Daniel Block’s writing on the book of Ezekiel. He provided a full introduction of the book in volume one and therefore, makes no introduction in volume 2. But even without an outline in this second volume, the author maintains a smooth transition from the previous amount by ensuring that in every chapter there is harmony and continuity of his thoughts. He writes in a way that the reader can easily connect and synthesize. In his commentary style, he is equally thorough. Every passage carries a translation, an explanation of the design and nature of the reading, text commentary, and a proper theological reflection. Volume 2, similar to the one in chapter 1-24, gives a good discussion on Prophet Ezekiel’s background by offering a verse-by-verse explanation, which makes the message clear and demystifies what is commonly misunderstood about Prophet Elijah. The commentary made by Block indicates that Ezekiel’s vision and ancient wisdom is still essential in the 21st century.   Today, the commentary on the Old Testament by the New International Commentary is widely read by many scholars, the priests, pastors, rabbis, and even the bible students. A large number of readers in the religious sector in many countries utilize its volumes in their study, preaching, and research. The commentaries use the current innovations in methodology in biblical scholarship, for instance, the new literary criticism, canon criticisms, theories on reader responses, ethnically sensitive and gender-based readings. The volume aims to summarize and critique influential views while defending their opinions. The volume draws its contributors from some Christian faith groups. The volume enjoys a wide range of various contributors, giving it the freedom to use different relevant methodologies hence making it enriching and exciting as well.

Issues addressed in this second volume include; negative messages of hope: the oracles against foreign nations, positive words of hope: the gospel according to Ezekiel, excursus: the infusion of the Spirit of Yahweh under the old covenant, excurses the background to Ezekiel’s notions of resurrection, excursus: the afterlife of Ezekiel’s life-giving river, excursus: the after experience of Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones and excursus: Gog in Jewish and Christian traditions among others. I commend the author because as much as possible he has strived to be clear to the reader as possible by use of pictures, tables, maps and also notes and illustrations from other authors in the footnotes this leads me to a conclusion that Block fairly portrays the work done by other scholars while presenting their diverging views in an appropriately detailed manner. In the gog periscope an elaborate and lively discussion that gives a due consideration of this text that is controversial. The footnotes that are used extensively are essential to the researchers wishing to use the volume for further research. Concerning the purpose of God’s spirit in the Old Covenant life, where a follower differed substantially from the holy spirit’s operation in the New Testament and presently and especially the prevailing view that holy spirit descended on a person for specific work in ancient Israel, but in the church, the spirit dwells in the one who believes. Block poses four arguments against this understanding which according to me they are valid even though I would base my argument on the first one which maintains my understanding that in both the Old and New Testament the Spirit comes upon persons to authorize them and empower them for divine service.

Since this volume aims at helping us understand God’s word as clear as possible,
I recommend to students needs and anyone interested. It is long, but he interacts with other commentaries without making it too tedious.