During a brief visit to Germany this week I became aware of a new NT-commentary project in process. At the present time it is called Rechtsgeschichtlicher Kommentar zum Neuen Testament (RKNT), and is planned to be published in two volumes.
The project has its own webpage here. It tells about the idea behind the project, who is working on it (ca. 36 persons), and the planned content of the two volumes to be published.
The presentation of the project (in German) is given thus:
Bibelwissenschaft und Rechtswissenschaft haben ein Gebiet gemeinsam, dessen Erforschung noch aussteht: die Rechtsgeschichte des Neuen Testaments.In diesem Kommentar arbeiten ausgewiesene Fachleute der Romanistik, der Judaistik und der Neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft zusammen, um auch Nichtfachleuten darzustellen, was in den Texten jeweils auf dem Spiel steht.
This is an interesting idea and project. You may also check on the webpage what texts they are to deal with; I for my part was somewhat surprised that the Steven-episode of Act 6 is given so little attention in their outline.
The commentary as such raises also another issue to me: what is happening to the ‘Commentary-genre’? We now have a lot of specialized commentaries out there, focusing on some specific aspects of the texts. Let me mention some of the series that come to my mind:
Social-Science Commentary (Fortress Press)
Papyrologische Kommentare zum Neuen Testament (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht)
The Social-Rhetorical Commentaries (by Ben Witherington)
The Two Horizons New Testament Commentaries (Eerdmans)
A Postcolonial Commentary on the New Testament Writings (1 Volume, t&t clark)
Others might surely be added, but these are probably the most prominent. We thus have a wide field of topics covered by these, and more is probably to come. So, coming from a situation when there was a lot of ‘historical-critical commentaries’ to chose, we now also have to be sure to check up these more specialized volumes.
I do think the whole genre of NT commentary-genre is in a period of change and (probably,) improvement. It might be that the time of the all-embraching commentary is over (and probably has been for some time). In this the commentaries simply mirror the diversity of methods in vogue in New Testament exegesis.
But will the time ever return when you can sit down with a good ?00 pages volume, thinking: this will be the one? Probably not!