The books of Kings view Israel’s history through the theological lens of action. Actions have consequences that are determined by the people’s faithfulness or unfaithfulness to their God and the covenant, and the editors' purpose is to demonstrate that the monarchy stands or falls on its faithfulness to its God.
The books of Kings, though in real ways foreign to the twenty-first century, contain content that resonates with our contemporary experience. They raise an array of questions: In the relationships between and among individuals and between and among nations, what constitutes loyalty? What behaviors exact justice? What are the demands of being in a covenant relationship with God? What does it mean to be faithful to that relationship? What risks are we willing to take? How do we pray? Where do we look for the power of God? The insights gleaned from engaging these questions can shed a unique light on our contemporary lives.
Alice L. Laffey is associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts. Trained in the modern historical-critical study of the Deuteronomistic History, she has expanded her study of the Old Testament to include postmodern feminist and ecological approaches.
The books of Kings intertwine historical data and theological reflection in a way that is often challenging to today's reader, but Alice Laffey's commentary brings clarity to this complex material and enables contemporary readers to work through these books of the Bible with ease. The power of the prophetic word rightly receives emphasis in Dr. Laffey's treatment of the books of Kings and the often ignored role of women in the telling of the history of Israel and Judah receives attention. Students of the Bible will come away from this commentary with a greater knowledge of the history of Israel and Judah and a greater appreciation of the role of theology in understanding that history.
Pauline Viviano, Associate Professor of Theology, Loyola University Chicago
Alice Laffey has produced a completely new commentary that is clear, insightful, and accessible to the undergraduate or non-specialist alike. Her additional years of biblical scholarship and teaching the texts to undergraduates have honed her desire to bring the voices and actions of the least powerful characters to the reader's attention. She points out the effect in the text of how heeding the voices or actions of these "secondary" or "marginal" characters often advances the Deuteronomy author's theology, something other commentators generally overlook. I would like to use this commentary in my undergraduate Old Testament survey class, or at the very least its introduction, because it provides the undergraduate or interested non-specialist with a way to understand what the biblical texts may critique in their own twenty-first century lives.
Mary Kate Birge, SSJ, Associate Professor of Theology, Mount St. Mary's University
This commentary on First and Second Kings is wonderfully crafted. Alice Laffey's reading of the texts is not only critical but also creative in approach, and her style is marvelously engaging. Laffey makes the stories of the Kings come alive in new and interesting ways. Her clarity of thought allows readers to gain both an understanding of and an appreciation for material that is often dense and historically cumbersome. This study is an historical and literary gem.
Carol J. Dempsey, OP, Professor of Theology (Biblical Studies), University of Portland, OR