series: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

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This engaging theological exegesis of Numbers, like each commentary in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, is designed to serve the church and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible. It will interest professors and students in Old Testament, Deuteronomy, Pentateuch, and theological interpretation courses as well as pastors and church leaders.

The general editor for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible is R. R. Reno (editor, First Things). Series editors include Robert W. Jenson (Center of Theological Inquiry); Robert Louis Wilken (University of Virginia); Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto); Michael Root (Catholic University of America); and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas).

Volumes in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

R. R. Reno (editor, First Things) on Genesis Thomas Joseph White (Thomistic Institute at the Angelicum in Rome) on Exodus Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Leviticus David L. Stubbs (Western Theological Seminary) on Numbers Telford Work (Westmont College) on Deuteronomy Paul Hinlicky (Roanoke College) on Joshua Laura A. Smit (Calvin University) and Stephen Fowl (Loyola University Maryland) on Judges & Ruth Francesca Aran Murphy (University of Notre Dame) on 1 Samuel Robert Barron (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles) on 2 Samuel Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Kings Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Chronicles Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary) on Ezra & Nehemiah Samuel Wells (St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, London) and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas) on Esther & Daniel Ellen T. Charry (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Psalms 1–50 Jason Byassee (Vancouver School of Theology) on Psalms 101–150 Daniel J. Treier (Wheaton College Graduate School) on Proverbs & Ecclesiastes Paul J. Griffiths on Song of Songs Robert W. Jenson (1930–2017; Center of Theological Inquiry) on Ezekiel Phillip Cary (Eastern University) on Jonah Stanley Hauerwas (Duke Divinity School) on Matthew David Lyle Jeffrey (Baylor University) on Luke Jaroslav Pelikan (1923–2006; Yale University) on Acts Kimlyn J. Bender (Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University) on 1 Corinthians Kathryn Greene-McCreight (The Episcopal Church at Yale) on Galatians Michael Allen (Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando) on Ephesians George Hunsinger (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Philippians Christopher R. Seitz (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Colossians Douglas Farrow (McGill University) on 1 & 2 Thessalonians Risto Saarinen (University of Helsinki) on the Pastoral Epistles with Philemon & Jude Douglas Harink (The King’s University College) on 1 & 2 Peter Joseph L. Mangina (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Revelation


"David Stubbs is an able guide as he focuses on the literary shape of the final form of Numbers and its theological implications for the life of the Christian church. Stubbs provides a rich and substantive Christian reading of Numbers, focusing on its vision of who the people of God are to be (Numbers 1-10), the failure of the people to live up to God's vision and God's faithfulness in spite of that failure (Numbers 11-25), and the reorganization and new beginning of an emerging generation of God's people as they prepare for life in the promised land of Canaan (Numbers 26-36). Stubbs interacts responsibly with current Old Testament scholarship on Numbers. He also expands his commentary into a dense theological dialogue with New Testament texts, modern Jewish interpreters like Milgrom and Levenson, and a wide array of Christian interpreters like Origen, Jerome, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Hauerwas, Tanner, and Moltmann. And he takes up a host of substantive theological issues and concerns--election, blessing, eucharist, holiness, sacrifice, leadership, sabbath, sin, and forgiveness, to name a few. Stubbs manages to offer up a sumptuous theological feast out of what is sometimes seen as the dry fare of the book of Numbers."--Dennis Olson, Charles T. Haley Professor of Old Testament Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible is a crucial venture, and David L. Stubbs's Numbers is a most welcome addition. With great passion for the text and the people it seeks to form, Stubbs demonstrates that the theological wisdom of the past helps to display the profound importance of the book of Numbers for the cultivation of scripturally shaped ecclesial life. No less does Stubbs's commentary show the interpretive merits gained by thorough interaction with modern biblical study. In short, Stubbs is to be commended for his steadfast rejection of the false alternative so often posed between ancient and contemporary hermeneutical strategies. Stubbs reads this Old Testament book with an interpretive patience, literary attentiveness, and theological freedom that invite us all to return to the text and consider it more closely--surely a proper end of any theological exegesis worth its name."--C. Kavin Rowe, assistant professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School

"In Numbers Stubbs shows us what theological interpretation of scripture should be: deeply attentive to the biblical text, whilst at the same time drawing richly from the church's theological heritage. With the church of our day so divided and confused, we have never more needed to hear God's word from the book of Numbers, this most ecclesiological of books. God willing, with the patient guidance of Stubbs and other theologians like him, we may yet find our way through the desert of our failings and besetting sins."--Nathan MacDonald, reader in the interpretation of the Old Testament, Cambridge University; fellow and college lecturer in theology, St. John's College, Cambridge

"Stubbs's sophisticated literary approach is just what is needed to engage the interplay of law and narrative in this, the most complex book of the Torah. Moreover, his wide-ranging theological and ecclesial imagination is deeply informed by scripture and the history of its interpretation by both Jews and Christians. Stubbs has opened up the riches of a book that was effectively closed to the church, making it accessible and even indispensable for our journey with God."--Ellen F. Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School

"The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible was born of the conviction that everyone interprets from a particular tradition, whether they acknowledge it or not, and that those steeped in the practices of the 'Nicene tradition, in all its diversity and controversy,' are best able to provide 'structure and cogency to scriptural interpretation.' The editors have chosen theologians for whom doctrine is a living engagement with the tradition, a habit of mind and heart, not a chiseling of propositions on stone tablets--theologians like David Stubbs. He sees in the diverse material of Numbers a consistent portrayal of God as a 'burning fire that tests us and ultimately cleanses us to make us holy.' He sees the burning fire of God creating a 'people of zeal and hope and of humility and honesty.' His commentary helps to bridge the divide that has arisen between theologians and exegetes. "--Thomas A. Boogaart, Professor of Biblical Studies, Western Theological Seminary

Praise for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible:

"What a splendid idea! Many preachers have been longing for more commentaries that are not only exegetical but theological in the best sense: arising out of the conviction that God, through his Word, still speaks in our time. For those of us who take our copies of Martin Luther's Galatians and Karl Barth's Romans from the shelves on a regular basis, this new series in that tradition promises renewed vigor for preaching, and therefore for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in our time."--Fleming Rutledge, author of The Bible and The New York Times and The Seven Last Words from the Cross

"This new series places the accent on 'theological' and reflects current interpretive ferment marked by growing resistance to the historical-critical project. It may be that scripture interpretation is too important to be left to the exegetes, and so a return to the theologians. We will wait with great anticipation for this new series, at least aware that the outcomes of interpretation are largely determined by the questions asked. It is never too late to ask better questions; with a focus on the theological tradition, this series holds the promise of asking interpretive questions that are deeply grounded in the primal claims of faith. The rich promise of the series is indicated by the stature and erudition of the commentators. Brazos has enormous promises to keep with this project, and we wait with eagerness for its appearing!"--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible makes a most welcome contribution to the church, the academic world, and the general public at large. By enlisting a wide range of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox theologians who differ on much, but who agree on the truth of the Nicene Creed, the series also represents ecumenical activity of the very best kind. It is always a daunting challenge to expound the church's sacred book both simply and deeply, but this impressive line-up of authors is very well situated for the attempt."--Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame

"Preachers and teachers in particular, but thoughtful Christians more generally, have long lamented the slide of biblical scholarship into hyper-specialized critical studies of ancient texts in remote historical context. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Brazos Theological Commentary is being so warmly welcomed. The outstanding array of authors, beginning with Jaroslav Pelikan's splendid commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, is, at long last, reclaiming the Bible as the book of the living community of faith that is the church."--Richard John Neuhaus, author of American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile

"Contemporary application of the Bible to life is the preacher's business. But no worthy contemporary application is possible without a thorough understanding of the ancient text. The Brazos Theological Commentary exists to provide an accessible authority so that the preacher's application will be a ready bandage for all the hurts of life. We who serve the pulpit want a commentary we can understand, and those who hear us expect us to give them a usable word. The Brazos Commentary offers just the right level of light to make illuminating the word the joy it was meant to be."--Calvin Miller, author of A Hunger for the Holy and Loving God Up Close

"For pastors, wanting to get at the theological heart of a text, there is some good stuff. When I am preaching, I usually try to take a peek at the Brazos volume."--Nijay K. Gupta, assistant professor of New Testament, Northeastern Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan College

The Author

  1. David L. Stubbs

    David L. Stubbs

    David L. Stubbs (PhD, Duke University) is professor of ethics and theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and has worked in college ministries and worship leadership for many years. He is also part of a task force on sacramental practice...

    Continue reading about David L. Stubbs


"Stubbs consistently makes linkages with the entire Christian tradition. . . . Stubbs's effort to relate Scripture and doctrine must be judged as very successful. He blazes the trail for teachers, ministers, preachers and, above all, students of the Bible!"--James Chukwuma Okoye, CSSp, The Bible Today

"Stubbs offers a fresh and helpful analysis of Numbers. Numbers is not easy to read as Christian Scripture, but Stubbs approaches the text with fresh eyes and offers creative solutions to textual problems as well as illuminating, but orthodoxy bound, interpretations. Any preacher who has never thought about a sermon series on Numbers has only to peruse this volume. Soon they will begin to get excited at the prospect of unpacking this long-forgotten, yet foundational, book of the Bible."--David Griffiths, Theological Book Review

"Gives much space to how the stories and laws in the Book of Numbers connect to Christian practice and theology. [This aspect] will be helpful in preaching."--Ray Van Neste, Preaching

"[Stubbs] adverts frequently to, and draws substantively from, people who are theologically, philologically, and critically adept Christian scholars. . . . I regard Stubbs's commentary on Numbers the best in the series so far, not least because he permits his reading to be disciplined by the text. . . . Stubbs is neither dismissive of nor naïve about history and its relation--its variously potential relations--to scriptural interpretation. Most impressive about this commentary is its conjunction of close attention to the text of Numbers combined with its (the commentary's) intratextual character--its treatment of Numbers also as a text to be read within the textual, scriptural, ensemble of which it is a component. That ensemble, as Stubbs plays it, can be breathtaking at times. . . . One gains the impression that Stubbs is less interested in some conflict between theologically incompetent biblical scholars and exegetically incompetent theologians than in engaging in actual scriptural interpretation. This he does well, and in exemplary fashion."--Ben C. Ollenburger, Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought

"The book of Numbers is not necessarily the biblical book that jumps to one's mind as a subject for an interesting Bible study or sermon series. . . . This is unfortunate, however, as David Stubbs' commentary beautifully demonstrates. . . . Throughout the commentary, Stubbs uses his exegetical skills and keen theological sensibilities to elucidate the stories of Numbers, many of which are difficult to understand. . . . At least as helpful as his explanations are his applications of these stories to the church today. . . . While this commentary is informative and helpful for anyone interested in Numbers, it has special benefit for preachers. . . . The exegetical insights in the commentary deal with many issues relevant to the Christian community. . . . In addition, his clear writing style and pastoral tone make this volume a stimulating choice for all of us who must choose carefully from the numerous reading options available."--Mary L. Vanden Berg, Calvin Theological Journal

"A number of Stubbs's concerns (i.e., literary, historical, theological) nicely converge in this commentary. Unlike some theological works that collapse the contour of biblical narrative and diachronic developments, this commentary demonstrates sufficient sensitivity to the narrative shape and literary logic of Numbers. Stubbs conducts the dual task of textual analysis and theological reflection in a thoughtful and nuanced fashion. The learned manner in which he incorporates intertextual links and major theological interpreters of the past in his study is as illuminating as it is highly accessible. . . . There is no doubt that Stubbs's work paints a powerful picture of a theologian's mind at work. Many a scholar has longed for the promised land of a more integrated and fruitful interaction between historical-critical, literary, and theological insights, only to turn back into wandering in the wilderness of academic-disciplinal compartmentalization when confronted with such a formidable task. Stubbs's concerted effort and discipline shown to this end are truly commendable. . . . Stubbs's work should be numbered as a welcome addition to the array of Torah commentaries already available."--Kengo Akiyama, Expository Times

"Throughout this stimulating book themes are traced through the Bible, the comments of Christian interpreters of every age noted, and pertinent questions levelled at the contemporary church. . . . Whatever the section of the book, [Seitz] is very quickly taking the reader on exciting tours of the Bible. . . . There are regular and measured insights which challenge some aspects of our contemporary world. . . . These tours and discussions are never artificial. Stubbs has paid very close attention to the structure and content of Numbers in its own right. . . . The constant insistence on tracing ideas through the whole Bible provides stimulating avenues of application to the contemporary church. . . . This book is not the place to start in your study of Numbers, but together with other exegetical works is most rewarding."--Paul Darlington, Churchman