Commentary Recommendations & Resources: Revelation

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Bruce Metzger – Breaking the Code *DEAL*
This little book offers some great insights into the book of Revelation. This was my first crack and studying Revelation and I still remember all of the discoveries I experienced reading this book. I would encourage people to start here as it will introduce you to material that you can get in greater detail in some of the commentaries below. You can get this for around $2 on amazon.

David deSilva – Seeing Things John’s Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation
deSilva takes an approach he calls the contemporary-historical approach that tries to understand Revelation in its own day and time in order to understand it in ours. I just call that solid biblical interpretation 🙂 So this book isn’t really a commentary that goes by chapter and verse. It is almost like a theology of Revelation that mainly covers the meaning that is revealed through the rhetorical approaches used in the book and the apocalyptic genre of the book.

A.P. Garrow – Revelation (New Testament Readings)
Garrow tries to identify the story that he believes underlies the text. This is like when we recognize that Paul’s writing is not narrative and yet there is a narrative that underlies a lot of what Paul writes about (the story of Adam or Abraham for example). This is a similar take on Revelation based on statements of what must soon take place. That leads Garrow to believe Revelation follows a narrative that helps explain the content of the book. This is an interesting approach but not one I would go to first.

 

Commentaries

David Aune – Revelation (Word Biblical Commentary)

I picked this up not very long ago so I haven’t had the chance to use it very much. I picked it up based on its reputation in the series as being one of the better commentaries on Revelation.

G.K. Beale – The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary)
I have used this on a number of occasions and have found it incredibly helpful. While the commentary section requires some knowledge of Greek the introductory material does not and it is both lengthy and very helpful.

Grant Osborne – Revelation (Baker)
These commentaries usually either go multivolume or else are just ginormous. This one went the ginormous route. If you want a wide variety of scholarly opinion over the years on various interpretations this is the commentary you will want to consult.

Richard Oster – Seven Congregations in a Roman Crucible: A Commentary on Revelation 1-3
This is the first in what will be a multivolume commentary on Revelation by Dr. Oster who teaches at Harding School of Theology. I have read it in its entirety and it is very useful. This is a must read on the first three chapters, studies on the letters to the churches, etc and especially if you want it from someone who comes from a Restoration/Church of Christ background.

Mitchell Reddish – Revelation (Smyth & Helwys)
This is probably my favorite commentary on Revealtion. It is a bit pricey (as Revelation commentaries tend to be) but it also comes with a CD of the entire commentary in pdf. That allows you to search the text of the commentary, which has helped me on a number of occasions. This commentary is technical enough for advance students but also easy enough to read for people just starting out.

Tom Wright – Revelation for Everyone *DEAL*
Great beginning study on Revelation. You can get this for less than $10 at amazon and it covers the entire book of Revelation.

Commentary Recommendations & Resources: Galatians

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E.P. Sanders – Paul and Palestinian Judaism
This is a work that kicked off the New Perspective on Paul. Sanders goes into extra-biblical material from Judaism to help us understand how the Jews viewed their own religion. Rather than imposing Luther back on the Torah, this book advises letting Judaism speak for itself. This allows you to read the Torah and the Old Testament with new ears with a greater degree of accuracy. This book has been challenged in several areas but still stands as an important reference work by its own right. There are other works that are shorter and have the benefit of another few decades of scholarship like the next book.

Commentaries

F.F. Bruce – The Epistle to the Galatians (New International Greek Commentary)
Highly technical. This works off of the Greek text rather than the English text so you better have brushed up on your Greek!

Hans Betz – Galatians (Hermeneia)
This is an excellent commentary on Galatians but does require some knowledge of Greek to get the full use out of it.

James Dunn – Galatians (Black’s New Testament Commentary)
Requires less knowledge of Greek and also incorporates information from the New Perspective on Paul that is very helpful. This is commentary is one of my favorites that I would recommend to anyone wanting a better grasp on Galatians.

Ronald Fung – The Epistle to the Galatians (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
I haven’t used this one. I list it because of my respect for the NICNT.

Scot McKnight – Galatians (NIV Application Commentary)
I have used McKnight and this is the perfect commentary for an introduction to Galatians. He is influenced by E.P. Sanders and James Dunn on the New Perspective and I view that as a plus.

Ben Witherington – Grace in Galatia: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
I haven’t consulted this commentary yet so I am not sure how good it is. I mention it here because I have used BWIII a lot on other studies and respect his work. It is typically very readable with lots of detail but still written well enough that most people would find it helpful.

Tom Wright – Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians
As I have said before these are great to give you the overview but less helpful if you are looking for answers to specific textual questions. I use these any time I am studying a particular book of the New Testament.

Articles

N.T. Wright – Paul, Arabia, and Elijah (Galatians 1:17)

N.T. Wright – The Letter to the Galatians: Exegesis and Theology

 

Commentary Recommendations & Resources: Second Corinthians

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Gerd Theissen – The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth
This book is a series of translated essays. The points of interest are his discussion of the strong and the weak and the Lord’s supper and the economic/demographic issues tied to each one. I had never considered how wealth would impact the availability of eating meat and how that also then impacts the economic and religious function of the meals that these Christians were engaged in.

Ben Witherington – A Week in the Life of Corinth
A fictional account of life in Corinth that pulls together biblical, cultural and historical points to help one make sense out of how life in Corinth would have been in Paul’s day.

Commentaries

C.K. Barrett – The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Black’s NT Commentary)
This is a great all around commentary on 2 Corinthians. I would first go to Witherington and then to this one. For more technical information try Martin.

Ralph P. Martin – 2 Corinthians (Word Biblical Commentary)
A more technical commentary that requires some knowledge of Greek to be able to get the most of of it.

Ben Witherington – Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary

Tom Wright – Paul for Everyone: 2 Corinthians
Very introductory and yet still useful for a more advanced study. I often go here early in my study to help get the gist of the text and then go to the more in depth commentaries in order to get the finer details. Wright’s For Everyone series gives me cubbies in my mind to put the other information into.

Commentary Recommendations & Resources: Ephesians

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Walter Wink – Engaging the Powers
A powerful and engaging look at spiritual powers and warfare. This is a must read on the principalities and powers.

Watchman Nee – Sit, Walk, Stand
This is devotional material based on three of the imperatives in Ephesians. This book challenged me spiritually and is one that I will definitely read a few more times.

Commentaries

Ernest Best – A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Ephesians (International Critical Commentary)
A pricey but extremely helpful commentary on Ephesians. There are a few other options that are nearly as good without spending this much money. This one and the Word commentary below will require some knowledge of Greek to be beneficial.

F.F. Bruce – The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon and to the Ephesians (NICNT)
Bruce’s commentaries in the NICNT commentary series are exceptional and ones that I turn to over and over again. I would go to O’Brien and Witherington before going to Bruce and definitely before spending the money on Best.

Andrew Lincoln – Ephesians (Word Biblical commentary)
This is considered to be one of the best in the WBC series. I haven’t personally used it to any great length but I keep it on hand because of its reputation and because I often use Word Biblical commentaries or the New International Greek Testament Commentaries if I have question on the original languages.

Ralph Martin – Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon (Interpretation)
This commentary is geared for preachers and teachers and would make a great recommendation for a Bible class teacher looking for resources to assist them in their preparation.

Peter O’Brien – The Letter to the Epheisans (Pillar)
This is my favorite commentary on Ephesians because of its balance of being thorough and yet highly readable/understandable. If I had to pick one commentary for Ephesians this would be the one.

Ben Witherington – The Letters to Philemon, Colossians and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
This is probably my second favorite after O’Brien and just before Bruce. Definitely one you want to consult if you are studying Ephesians.

Commentary Recommendations & Resources: First Corinthians

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Gerd Theissen – The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth
This book is a series of translated essays. The points of interest are his discussion of the strong and the weak and the Lord’s supper and the economic/demographic issues tied to each one. I had never considered how wealth would impact the availability of eating meat and how that also then impacts the economic and religious function of the meals that these Christians were engaged in.

Ben Witherington – A Week in the Life of Corinth
A fictional account of life in Corinth that pulls together biblical, cultural and historical points to help one make sense out of how life in Corinth would have been in Paul’s day.

Craig Keener – Paul, Women and Wives
This book has detailed sections on the praying and prophesying women in 1 Corinthians 11 as well as the instruction on silence in 1 Corinthians 14. Keener takes an egalitarian perspective.

Commentaries

C.K. Barrett – The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Black’s NT Commentary)
I haven’t ever used this commentary but plan to in my next study of first Corinthians because I have used Barrett’s other commentaries and have found them useful, particularly his commentary on Acts. So I don’t have anything specific to say aside from I trust his ability and insight as it has been helpful to me in the past.

Richard Oster – 1 Corinthians (College Press)
Dr. Oster teaches at Harding School of theology so this is your main choice if you are looking for a commentary from a Restoration Movement perspective.

Ben Witherington – Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
This is a very helpful commentary that I have used on numerous occasions.  I highly recommend it as Witherington is very skilled at giving you the running flow of Paul’s rhetoric/argumentation in order for you to see how he makes his theological arguments. Along with that, this book gives ample historical and cultural backgrounds to help you understand the text.

Tom Wright – Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians
Wright’s “For Everyone” series has been particularly helpful to me. Wright starts off each section with a personal story that illustrates the point of the text. As always, these “for everyone” commentaries are small, easy to read and help make the complex fairly simple.