'Hannah's Prayer and its Answer: an exposition for Bible Study' by Ronald S. Wallace. Wm Eerdmans Publishing Co 2002 (0-8028-6068-0) pp. xiv +113. paperback UK pounds 9.99.

Critiquing 1 Samuel 1-7, Wallace uses the example of Hannah to expound the important task of prayer for the church and society, adding that Hannah is 'given a place in Israel's history similar to that of Mary in the New Testament' (p xiii) - though in some Christian traditions Mary is held to be 'the mother of God'.

Each part of  1 Sam 1-7 is examined in detail, with some contemporary explanations of events and problems, eg Hannah becomes pregnant not through divine intervention but by learning to relax after bargaining with God. 'God hears and gives his word so that his kingdom advances and his purposes are furthered' (p 22)

Wallace's commentary is designed for parish bible study groups and clergy needing inspiration for homilies and private meditation. Literary and historical criticism is not    attempted; instead  the prayer life of the characters in the narrative is outlined - Hannah's song 'is an exultant confession of faith' (p.27), similar to the Magnificat of the New Testament. The resurgence of faith in Israel is then attributed to Hannah's ministry of prayer.

The difficult parts of 1 Sam 1-11 are not engaged - eg the abandonment of the three year old Samuel at Eli's temple at Shiloh, orphaned with complete disregard for the child's welfare, echoing  a similar attitude to children as Abraham's attempt to sacrifice Isaac. What effect this abandonment ultimately had on Samuel as a prophet in his later life  is not assessed.

Wallace has held pastorates throughout Scotland before becoming professor of biblical theology at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is now retired and again living in Scotland. Overall I found Wallace's exposition very helpful for individual or group Bible study.