Although I uphold the pedagogical and corrective virtues of biblical commentaries, I always tell young clergy and my students, “There’s no sermon in there.” But in Robert Barron’s new volume on 2 Samuel in the Brazos series, there may actually be quite a few sermons.

The Brazos project is intriguing: ask theologians to exposit books of the Bible and see what unfolds. The results are mixed, but generally thoughtful and occasionally profound. The Old Testa­ment volumes are of special interest. What series editor R. R. Reno does with Genesis and what Ephraim Radner does with Leviticus, for example, boggles the mind. Their theological agility and depth of specifically Christian reflection on texts from the Torah fill me with envy, and with a craving to preach as profoundly as possible from the Old Testament.

Barron’s achievement is crazy good. It would be trite and yet true to say that he writes well or that his commentary reads like a novel. I kept jotting the word eloquent in the margins. Writers bear the same responsibility preachers do: it’s up to us to preserve the glories of the language, to keep words alive, to remind others that elegance of expression is possible and that it matters. Our business, after all, is the Word. Barron, who serves as the rector/president of Mundelein Seminary University of St. Mary of the Lake, is at the head of his class.