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04-06-2004, 12:44 AM
if you were to make a list of the top commentaries...which ones would be on there?

Dan Phillips
04-06-2004, 08:28 AM
if you were to make a list of the top commentaries...which ones would be on there?
When I used to work in Christian bookstores, and was asked to recommend a commentary, I'd answer "For what?" Then generally I'd recommend a few, and suggest that the person pick a favorite passage, or a difficult passage, and look it up in all of them. See which writer "scratched" where he "itched."

So for instance, take Proverbs, a long-favorite of mine, and the book whence came my Master's thesis. For a good general read, I'd recommend Kidner in the TOTC series. Obviously a great depth of scholarship, and yet a wonderful writer and communicator as well (though too squishy on the authorship of 1—9 ;)). For preaching (not exegesis), Charles Bridges is hard to beat; his footnotes alone are worth the price of the book. For dealing with the Hebrew, it's hard to recommend anything. Toy will do it, but he's theologically nuts. McKane, ditto. Delitzsch will deal with the Hebrew, and is worth the read, though he's very dated. Murphy is more up to date, but theologically tone-deaf at best.

And so forth.


04-06-2004, 11:19 AM
if you were to make a list of the top commentaries...which ones would be on there? As the previous post comments, "For What?" is probably the best question to ask when it comes to choosing commentaries. You have all sorts of things to consider:

The author's view of Biblical Innerancy (a big influence on the results.)
Liberal / conservative theology
Arminian/ Calvinistic / Other (?)
level of scholarship required to get anything out of it.
Having said that, I use a multitude of commentaries, and generaly start buying just before a book study starts; but FWIW I like the following in NO particular order.

ICC = International Critical Commentaries by T&T Clark.
Word Biblical Commentaries
MacArthur's assortment
Interpretation Biblical Commentary
Bakers New Testament Commentary Series.
And for "Devotional" content Matthew Henry is a great "emotional" commentary. (Don't flame me, it's my opinion.)

04-06-2004, 11:44 AM
i have the "emotional" commentary by henry. i should give it to some of the "emotional christians" that plague the school i attend.

i'm sorry that i didn't identify particularly what i was looking for.

i'm not necessarily interested in a whole set, but rather the best volumes for each biblical book..

or perhaps names of recommended exegetical scholars.

Believing Sojourner
04-06-2004, 03:07 PM
I value the three volume set on the minor prophets, edited by Thomas Edward McComiskey, and published by Baker Book House. Otherwise, I have limited exposure to modern commentaries, but the exposure I have causes me to step aside.

I have read extensively in the 10 volume Keil and Delitzch Commentary on the Old Testament. I have also read a lot in the 14 volume Barnes' Notes on the Entire Bible. I preferred Carl Keil's commentary on Genesis to the the commentary by James P. Murphy, contained in Barnes' Notes.

I have never seen Matthew Henry's Commentary described as "emotional," but rather as "devotional." I have never gravitated toward it myself, but so many people I know value it that I do look at it from time to time and even formulated a plan to read the set in a four year period. That plan has been set aside for now.

Both Keil and Delitzch and Barnes' Notes on the Entire Bible are available for free download from www.e-sword.net (http://www.e-sword.net). You will have to install the free e-sword Bible program before these and several other free commenatries can be accessed.

Scott L. Adams

04-06-2004, 11:07 PM
Ok so my "emotional" comment was about as clear as mud I guess. :-D
<explanation> Some commentaries appear to be completely devoid of any emotion or relationship to Christ from them as they are mostly if not completely academic. Matthew Henry however was not ashamed to let his Love for Jesus bleed through his commentary - something I've come to appreciate. </explanation>

As for a favorite "one volume" commentary. I really enjoyed C.E.B. Cranfields International Critical Commentary on Romans.
Volume one (http://bestbookdeal.com/book/compare/0567050408)
Volume two (http://bestbookdeal.com/book/compare/0567050416)

To a lesser degree I enjoyed Kaseman's Commentary on Romans (http://bestbookdeal.com/book/compare/0802808603) as well.

In addition to the several others I referenced while preaching through Romans for three years, these I rate the best of the bunch. If you buy just "one" buy the Cranfield volumes.

Mark Langley
04-06-2004, 11:50 PM
Thomas gave a good 4 pointer in one of his previous posts. One’s view of scripture and slant in theology will normally be a guide in picking commentaries.

For sets I personally like and find helpful Calvin, Gill, Lange, Lenski, Keil and Delitzch, and I too would include Henry and Poole.

Individual books would be something like this (short list):

Alexander - Matthew, Mark, Acts, Psalms, Isaiah
Murphy - Psalms
Barnes- Psalms
Bruce - Acts
Hodge - Romans, I&II Corinthians, Ephesians
Murray - Romans
Haldane - Romans
Owen on Hebrews
Beale - Revelation
Isaiah, Daniel - Young
Broadus - Matthew (as well as the set in which Broadus' commentary came from).
John Brown's commentaries on individual books.
Hendrickson's commentaries on individual books.
I also enjoy reading and find helpful reading through the puritan writers on individual books of scripture.

This, of course, is just my likes. :)

Don Johnson
04-07-2004, 01:06 AM
As several have mentioned, picking commentaries is a matter of taste. Your theology, educational background, etc. are all involved in choosing reference works.

A couple of books I have found helpful are books about books:

James Rosscup of Masters Theological Seminary put out a book called Commentaries for Biblical Expositors. This book rates the commentaries in three categories: Detailed Exegetical, Expositional Survey, and Devotional Flavor. It also includes a paragraph about each volume. Of course, this is one man's opinion about each book, but you might find it helpful.

Another is Tools for Teaching and Preaching the Bible, by one of my professors at my alma mater, Dr. Stewart Custer of Bob Jones University. It is of course coming from a fundamentalist perspective, but you might still find it helpful. Custer has comments on books broken down into categories like Books on Bible Study, Bible Concordances, Bible Atlases, Biblical Geography, Books on Theology, and Recommended Commentaries among many other categories. I have an older edition, it has been updated in the last few years.

There are probably similar tools available, you might ask your professors if they know of such books, or check out the library at your school and see if they have either of the ones I mentioned. If not, they probably can get them for you on an inter-library loan.

Hope that helps!

04-07-2004, 04:10 AM
Does anyone know something about the Word Biblical Commentary serie?

I have been planning to buy the whole serie in an electronic format.
What are your opinninons? Is this a good critical commentary serie for exegesis? I would like to have a commentary on every book in the bible, and I cannot buy a book from different serie for each book.

-Antti Kahilakoski

04-07-2004, 05:27 AM
G'day mate
I think the Expositors Bible Commentary version 5 is a good whole bible commentary. If you are looking for a conservative commentary, this one is a good one. I do not endorse all of it, and do not find the Dispensational authors helpful where they teach this interpretation, but most volumes are terrific.

The Word Biblical Commentary series is good, but only loosely evangelical in some volumes.

David McKay

04-07-2004, 07:59 AM
In my view the Word Biblical Commentaries are a mixed bag. Wenham on Genesis is, in my view, the most helpful commentary I've used on Genesis. However, Durham on Exodus is weak on the historicity of that book. I've found the WBC volume on Joshua to be too critical for my taste also. I just bought Stuart on Hosea-Jonah and it has been helpful. In the NT, I've found O'Brien on Philippians to be excellent. Bauckham on 2 Peter is also very helpful (though I think his view of authorship is unfortunate, and unfortunately affects his exegesis in places. Schriener's new commentary in the NAC series has a good argument for the Petrine authorship of Peter which interacts with Bauckham).

I'm personally buying WBC's on a book-by-book basis.

The Expositor's Bible Commentary is a good series (Carson on Matthew is great; VanGemeren on the Psalms, etc.), but can be brief at times.

As mentioned, Dr. Custer’s Tools for Teaching and Preaching the Bible is a good resource. Tremper Longman and D.A. Carson also have helpful commentary survey’s published by Baker (Old Testament Commentary Survey; New Testament Commentary Survey). Carson’s latest edition is just a few years old and Longman’s newest edition just came out.

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary also has a helpful book list: http://www.dbts.edu/media/booklist.pdf (http://www.dbts.edu/media/booklist.pdf)

Here are some Commentaries I’ve found useful:


Wenham, WBC






Paul, Hermeneia

Niehaus (in McComiskey’s 3 volume set on the Minor Prophets--excellent)

Finely, WEC

Stuart, WBC


Niehaus (in McComiskey’s 3 volume set)

Raabe, AB



Edwards, PNTC


Ryle (devotional)

1 Peter

Grudem, TNTC


Leighton (Puritan)

2 Peter

Bauckham, WBC


Schriener, NAC

Green, TNTC

Lloyd-Jones (Sermons)

04-07-2004, 09:17 AM
Does anyone know something about the Word Biblical Commentary serie?I have been planning to buy the whole serie in an electronic format. What are your opinninons? Is this a good critical commentary serie for exegesis? I would like to have a commentary on every book in the bible, and I cannot buy a book from different serie for each book.
Any Commentary set is going to be weak in some sections of the scriptures and strong in others, the WBC is no exception. As long as you can sort through the good and the bad. Even with weak spots I've found the WBC, has been a worthy purchase.
Personally I would suggest that when you get ready to preach through a given book, secure a few excellent individual commentaries on that book, or at least a few reputable ones. (Identifying those for individual purpose is of course the purpose of this thread.)

Mark Langley
04-07-2004, 10:36 AM
Another helpful source for books for me has been Spurgeon’s "Commenting & Commentaries A Reference Guide to Book Buying for Pastors, Students, and Christian Workers." It was published in 1876 and he gives reference to the old standards. True, it is out of date but still some wise counsel in it. For even an older listing try Darling's list (Cyclopaedia Bibliographica: A Library Manual of Theological and General Literature... (10 Volumes). Others on the list have given a few up-to-date listings.

Dan Phillips
04-07-2004, 11:31 AM
Does anyone know something about the Word Biblical Commentary serie?
Hi, Antti — I'm a fervent affirmer of the Divine authority and inerrancy of Scriptural autographa. One's position on that issue affects one's handling of (and being handled by!) the text of Scripture on all levels.

Having said that (generalization to follow), I find that many of the volumes in the Word series have what I would view as a deficient respect for Scripture, and this affects the quality of the commentary. They may have great value in terms of lexicography, syntax, and other technical areas, but as a strictly biological description of one's wife might be accurate and yet miss the heart of the matter, so these often do. For instance, the volume on 2 Peter has much excellent material per se — but misses much through its failure to affirm Petrine authorship.

Similarly with the volume on Proverbs, which I find lacking due to the author's relatively low view of the authority of the text of Scripture.

I'm sure others will have other perspectives to offer; that is mine own. I have and use Word commentaries, but there are better ones available on most books.


04-07-2004, 06:16 PM
Just a small correction:
Peter O'Brien's Commentary on Philippians is in the NIGTC, not Word. His contribution to WBC was one of the earliest and is on Colossians.

I was privileged to attend his classes on Ephesians, not knowing that he was about to publish a commentary in the Pillar series. I am looking forward to his next one on Hebrews.

David McKay

04-07-2004, 10:34 PM
Your're right.
I'd didn't know he was writing one on Hebrews. That's great!

04-08-2004, 05:14 PM
Hi Samuelholder-

I'll list a few that have been helpful to me in my classes the last couple of years:

Bruce Waltke (Zondervan)

Tremper Longman (NICOT)
Michael Eaton (TOTC)

Darrell Bock (BECNT)

Raymond Brown (Anchor Bible)

Dunn (WBC)

Markus Barth
Peter O'Brien

Pastoral Epistles
Knight (NIGTC)


I also have used the Moody Introductions to the OT. It is a 4 volume set. I own the OT Historical by Howard and the OT Poetic by Bullock. Useful background info and commentary focusing (mostly) on the more difficult passages in the books.

For NT background and theological help I like the 4 volume IVP Dictionaries.


For complete commentary sets, I've liked The Expositor's Greek Testament, Keil & Delitzsch, Bible Knowledge Commentary, Expositor's Commentary.

I wouldn't buy any complete sets like the WBC in print (>55 volumes!). You'll spend a ton and end up getting books from other series to compensate for the ones you don't like. Purchase on a book by book basis.


By the way, Alibris.com (http://www.alibris.com) a lot of hard to find theology books for pretty cheap, used of course.

04-09-2004, 10:35 AM
I Often Buy Individual Commentaries Rather Than Sets Myself. Here Is Just A Partial List Of Commentaries That I Suggest When People Ask. I Like Commentaries That Deal Not Only With Exegesis, But Also Backgrounds.

Matt. - D.a. Carson - Expositor's Bible Commentary
Luke - Darrell Bock -baker Exegetical
John - D.a. Carson - Pillar Commentary
Acts - John Polhill - New American Commentary
Romans - Douglas Moo - New International Commentary N.t.
I Cor. - David Garland - Baker Exegetical
Eph. - Harold Hoehner - Exegetical Commentary/ Peter Obrien Pillar Comm.
Phil. Gordon Fee. - New International Commentary N.t.
Col./phlm. - Peter Obrien Word Biblical Commentary Series
Pastorals - I. Howard Marshall - International Critical Comm.
Revelation - Grant Osborne - Baker Exegetical
Good Over Views Are Craig Blomberg - Jesus And The Gospels - John Polhill - Paul And His Letters - Both Are Broadman And Holman

04-23-2004, 09:29 AM
Denver Seminary has a helpful online commentary resource. For the Old Testament, visit the Denver Seminary Annotated Old Testament Bibliography (http://www.denverseminary.edu/dj/articles2003/0100/0101.php).
For the New Testament, visit the Denver Seminary New Testament Exegesis Bibliography (http://www.denverseminary.edu/dj/articles2003/0200/0201.php).

On James I highly recommend Luke Timothy Johnson (Anchor Bible)!

05-29-2005, 09:04 AM
if you were to make a list of the top commentaries...which ones would be on there?


05-29-2005, 11:25 AM
This is by no means exhaustive, but it includes a list of suggested commentaries we compiled here at LTSG and links to a few other commentary listings.