I just received the JPS Bible and Torah Commentary Collection (9 volumes) from Logos and started “thumbing” through a couple of the volumes. I’m glad I picked it up. It looks like a valuable series—primarily for what it reveals about modern Judaism’s understanding of the Tanakh.
As I expected, though, I’m going to disagree with many of the interpretations that it defends. Nahum Sarna’s interpretation of Genesis 15:6, for example, is disappointing on several levels.1
6. he put his trust in the Lord The scene that opens with fear and depression closes with a firm statement that Abram remains steadfast in his faith in God. The promises must be realized, even in the face of a seemingly recalcitrant reality.
He reckoned it to his merit God is the subject of the verb.2 Hebrew tsedakah, usually “righteousness,” sometimes bears the sense of “merit.” The idea is that Abram’s act of faith made him worthy of God’s reward, which is secured through a covenant. This interpretation is supported by Nehemiah 9:7–8 and by the similar phraseology in Psalms 106:30f., which refers to the narrative of Numbers 25:6–13. The latter tells of the intervention of Phinehas at the affair of Baal-peor, as a result of which he was granted God’s “pact of friendship”—“for him and his descendants after him a pact of priesthood for all time.” The alternative possibility that Abram regarded “it,”—that is, the promise of posterity—as an expression of God’s righteousness and grace seems less likely.3
First, his comments are incredibly brief. (He doesn’t even footnote other places where righteousness supposedly means merit.) Second, he defends the wrong interpretation. Finally, he doesn’t even mention the evangelical Christian reading in a footnote, which apparently isn’t even a possibility since he mentions “the [less likely] alternative possibility that Abram regarded ‘it,’—that is, the promise of posterity—as an expression of God’s righteousness and grace.”
I think I’ll stick with Paul on this one.