Alexander, RalphHolland.Ezekiel. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010. (281 pages). Reviewed by Mogusu Nathan Nyambane
Alexander, Ralph Holland was born on September 3, 1936, in Tyler, Texas, United States. Son of Joe Barkley and Virginia Louise (Kinard) Alexander. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rice University, 1959. Master of Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1963. Doctor of Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1968. Ralph Holland Alexander, is an American religion educator, and author. He was Ordained to ministry Conservative Baptist Church, 1963. He is a Recipient of Henry C. Theissen award, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1963; scholar, Israel Government, 1964-1965; Fulbright grantee, Israel, 1964-1965. He served as an Instructor Southern Bible School, Dallas, 1963—1964, 1965—1966. Assistant professor Wheaton College, Illinois, 1966—1972 and Professor of Hebrew scriptures inWestern Conservative Baptist Seminary, Portland, Oregon, since 1972. He became First lieutenant, chaplain United States Army; 1959-1967. He is director of educational development at BibleiskiiPedagogicheskii. Institute, SEND international, located in Moscow, Russia.
Alexander, Ralph Holland commentary in Ezekiel is found in the 7th Volume of the revised version of Expositors Bible Commentary, covering the book of Jeremiah through to Ezekiel. This volume features the writings of Dr. Michael L. Brown, Paul W Farris, Jr, and Ralph Alexander. Following the publishing of the Expositors Bible Commentary in the early 1970s, it has been an essential resource for pastors, laypersons and students studying the Bible and has greatly equipped them with the scholarly information that is comprehensive and vital for scriptural exposition and more so teaching and proclaiming God’s word. Theologically, authors in earlier volumes and the current revised series are resolved and commit to a divine calling, entirely trustworthy and readily submit to the Biblical authority.
In his commentary on the book of Ezekiel, Alexander begins with an introduction consisting of eight parts which include: Historical aspect of the book, Date, Authorship and Unity, the place of origin and desired destination, the form of literature and its structure, the occasion and purpose and the values of Theology, Text, Bibliography and Outline.
One of the limitations that came my way from the start is concerning the information of the author. Different from other authors, information about Alexander is scarce, he does not sufficiently provide it in this commentary, and even the ones that are available in other sources are insubstantial and mostly limited to his education or carrier. Regardless of my determined search, I could not find information about his social life, the summery of his commentary done by him as the author, and also his best-known works.
Nonetheless, the book is, and it is full of insights beginning from thorough background information which clearly shows that Ezekiel ministered during the time of international chaos and unrest, where apostasy of Judah and immorality took place. It was also interesting to realize that during the reform of Josiah when Ezekiel was growing up; he was taken to captivity when Jehoiachin was deported in 597BC. More exciting was the discovery of the six factors that are used to support the unity and the authorship of the book of Ezekiel by those holding the traditional view. These factors comprise of the following. 1. A well balanced that is logically arranged 2. An Autobiographic nature 3.Sequence that is chronologically clear. 4. The internally consistent message within its structural balance.5. Uniformity, Style, and language used. 6. The consistent personality of Ezekiel all over the book. Other insights arose from the religious values where it became evident that five prominent theological concepts pervade this theological page: God’s nature, the real purpose, and nature of the judgment of God, every individual obligation, religious, and the good part of Israel’s restoration and the millennial worship. Majorly what I was thrilled by the fact that even though the Lord has dealt with Israel generally, Ezekiel balances this with a weight on personal responsibility. He states with clarity that an individual cannot be delivered from God’s curse through the uprightness of the majority or some other individual’s spirituality, but each person is accountable to God. Everyone is equally responsible for his disobedience or righteousness.
The strength of the book is evident to the reader not only from the detailed outline of the book in the second section but also on the part of text and exposition where he exegetes the passages in a very simplified manner that makes it enjoyable to read easy to follow and understand. I admire how he organizes his work primarily from the topic, limit of the text in English, commentary, notes where he does textual analysis in Hebrew and finally overview where he looks at the hermeneutics and presents the interpretation of the book. From this section, I got some helpful clues on exegesis.
Alexander has handled several issues in his commentary among them is the oracle of restoration which began at 36:16. The setting is expressed in 37 where the Lord in to the valley of dry bones. In this issue I agree with the interpretation of the author which suggests that the restoration will occur in two stages: physical or national, then spiritual renewal, in the sense that Israel who has been no existence as a persons on their land and dispersed throughout the homelands will be conveyed back to life physically as their land nation and when in the area they will be transformed spiritually when going places his Spirit in them in keeping with the new covenant. I also agree with his scatological interpretation which acknowledges the future restoration of spiritual Israel at the second coming of Jesus.
Overall, I enjoyed this commentary and found it very helpful and with the easy layout to navigate. I would recommend this volume of the Expositor’s Bible commentary series to anyone who is a student of scripture.