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Archives for Commentary Recommendations

TopicalCommentary-Revelation

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 - GalatiansTopical

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

 

IMG_0776[1]Topical

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.

TopicalCommentary - Ephesians

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.

IMG_0776[1]Topical

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.

TopicalCommentary - Genesis

Robert Alter – The Art of Biblical Narrative
This is a must read book for those studying the Old Testament. Alter is one of my favorite Old Testament scholars and this book will give you a lot of insight on how to read and understand the Old Testament by digging into how stories are told and meaning conveyed through narrative. This is a must have book and a must read book on the Old Testament.

Robert Alter – The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary *DEAL*
Alter has a series of books where he translates the Old Testament books and gives short insights on various points of the text. The insights are extremely useful and you can often catch the underlying Hebrew meaning better in his translation than you will in most modern English translations. His book on Genesis is the exact same content on Genesis included in this book. So don’t buy both! This is very inexpensive and a must read book.

Tremper Longman – How to Read Genesis
This book is a hybrid of a commentary and a theological textbook. He gives you principles on how to read Genesis and then works through the text in large chunks to help you understand how to apply what he taught in the beginning of the book.

Sailhammer – Genesis Unbound: A Provocative New Look at the Creation Account
This book and the next one by Walton are solely about the creation account. These two books are invaluable in studying and understanding the opening chapters of Genesis.

John Walton – The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate
This book reveals some things from a Hebrew perspective that helps us wrap our minds around the genre of the creation account as well as its purpose.

John Walton – IVP Bible Background Commentary: Geneis-Deuteronomy *DEAL*
This is a very helpful book that can be picked up very inexpensively in older editions. They will give you the relevant background, historical and cultural information that sheds light on the biblical text.

T. Desmond Alexander – IVP Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch
This is the “go to” Bible dictionary on Genesis-Deuteronomy. You will not regret purchasing this even though the price is a bit high. They utilized the foremost scholars in writing their articles.

 

Commentaries

Walter Brueggemann – Genesis (Interpretation)

If you are just going to buy one commentary on Genesis, this is the one you want to buy. It is ideal for getting the deeper theological connections as well as giving the insights you will need to teach/preach through Genesis. I find Sarna’s “Understanding Genesis” to be a bit more fascinating but it is far less comprehensive, skipping a lot of the narrative of Genesis or just dealing with it too briefly.

Goldingay – Genesis for Everyone

These are the OT counterpart to Wright’s NT for Everyone series and are written in a similar manner. Each section of the text starts off with the text, a personal story and then an explanation of the text. These are very helpful for getting the gist of the text. I typically use these toward the beginning of my study in order to wrap my mind around the big picture and then use other commentaries later in my study to get the finer details.

Victor Hamilton – The Book of Genesis (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

This is my “go to” commentary set on the book of Genesis. He is thorough, uses enough Hebrew to get the job done without getting you too far out in the deep end like the JPS commentary or Wenham’s Word Biblical commentary. These are bit more expensive but worth every penny if you can afford it.

Nahum Sarna – Understanding Genesis *DEAL*
This is a must read book on Genesis. Sarna doesn’t always take the conservative route so it may shake you up a bit but his views are worth considering and the connections he makes with the Hebrew texts and parallels with surrounding Ancient Near Eastern culture are fantastic. This can also be bought for under $5.

Nahum Sarna – Genesis (JPS Torah Commentary)
This book requires a knowledge of Hebrew. The book opens/reads right to left except for the English text. So you open the book from the “back” and read toward the “front” and it is entirely based off of the Hebrew text. Unless you have a firm grasp on Hebrew this won’t help you much. What is more, some of the most helpful material from Understanding Genesis is repeated in this work so just stick with that one and maybe add in Robert Alter’s Five Books of Moses to get easily as good of information for way less than half the price total.

Gerhard von Rad – Genesis (Old Testament Library)
I haven’t used this book yet so I don’t have much to say about it. I like this series and I like von Rad so that is why I have it around. It is sure to be a bit dated at this point.

Walton – Genesis: NIV Application Commentary
I have used this sporadicaly. I like Walton’s work a lot and thought his book The Lost World of Genesis One was really helpful. These are generally inexpensive and helpful for teaching/preaching. It would be a toss up for me between Brueggemann and Walton for a teacher. Walton is probably a bit easier for the average Sunday morning teacher to pick up and run with than Brueggemann.

Gordon Wenham – Genesis (Word Biblical Commentary)

I have these but use them very rarely. I go to this and the JPS commentary above when I have a specific question about the Hebrew text. These do require some knowledge of Hebrew to really be workable.

Topical

Robert Alter – The Art of Biblical Narrative
This is a must read book for those studying the Old Testament. Alter is one of my favorite Old Testament scholars and this book will give you a lot of insight on how to read and understand the Old Testament by digging into how stories are told and meaning conveyed through narrative. This is a must have book and a must read book on the Old Testament.

Robert Alter – The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary *DEAL*
Alter has a series of books where he translates the Old Testament books and gives short insights on various points of the text. The insights are extremely useful and you can often catch the underlying Hebrew meaning better in his translation than you will in most modern English translations. His book on Genesis is the exact same content on Genesis included in this book. So don’t buy both! This is very inexpensive and a must read book.

L. Michael Morales – Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord (New Studies in Biblical Theology)
This book connects Leviticus to the rest of the Pentateuch with connections that are stunning and solid. Definitely worth reading!

Commentaries

Goldingay – Exodus & Leviticus for Everyone
This is a great entry level book for a study of Exodus and one that I would recommend to a Bible class teacher who is prepping to teach.

Levine – Leviticus (JPS Torah Commentary)
This is a highly technical commentary on the Greek text.

Hartley – Leviticus (Word Biblical Commentary)
This is also a technical commentary and one that I believe is more thorough than the JPS above.

Milgrom – Leviticus (Continental Commentary)
This is a scaled down version of his more extensive 3 volume work in the Anchor Bible series. Well, really the two take different approaches. Here Milgrom goes through the entire book, listing themes and selecting texts for each theme.

I have heard that Balentine in Interpretation is really good as well but I haven’t ever used it.

Commentary - ExodusTopical

Hoffmeier – Israel in Egypt
This book takes a pretty conservative view on the Exodus and the historicity of the biblical account. Archaeology is used to confirm various things mentioned in these accounts and to shed light on many of the questions that we have about the exodus.

William Dever – Who were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?
This book traces various intepretive approaches from the exodus through the settling of Canaan.

Commentaries

Brevard Childs – Exodus (Old Testament Library)
I haven’t used this book yet but look forward to reading it in the future. I list it here because of Childs’ expertise as an OT scholar but don’t have much to go on besides that.

John Durham – Exodus (Word Biblical Commentary)
A highly technical commentary like the JPS one below. This will require knowledge of Hebrew.

Nahum Sarna – Exploring Exodus *DEAL*
Like his book on Genesis, this book is equally fascinating and a must read on Exodus. I wouldn’t study Exodus without consulting this book.

Nahum Sarna – Exodus (JPS Torah Commentary)
A far more technical commentary that works directly from the Hebrew text rather than from English translation.

Goldingay – Exodus & Leviticus for Everyone
This is a great entry level book for a study of Exodus and one that I would recommend to a Bible class teacher who is prepping to teach.

I haven’t mentioned Peter Enns’ commentary here in the NIV Application series just because I haven’t read it and because I have some questions about his approach. He is very popular and it is entirely possible that the book is fantastic.

Commentary - RomanssmallTopical

F.F. Bruce – Paul: Apostle of a Heart Set Free
This is a classic work on Paul that gives a lot of biographical information on Paul based on the New Testament and historical/extra biblical literature. As always with Bruce the book is very readable and enjoyable.

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.

James Dunn – The New Perspective on Paul
James Dunn has been one of the foremost scholars on the New Perspective. His commentaries on Romans (Word Biblical) and Galatians (Black’s) reflect this approach. This book provides helpful insights into understanding the New Perspective.

Karl Donfried (ed) – The Romans Debate
This is a compilation of essays on the purpose and occasion of Romans. Authors include: F.F. Bruce, Jacob Jervell, David Aune, Jame Dunn, and many more.

Commentaries

F.F. Bruce – Romans (Tyndale)
This is a very short/concise commentary on Romans by one of the foremost NT scholars of the last century. As it is now a bit dated it won’t make use of some of the more helpful Pauline discussions of the last few decades but still an inexpensive and accessible commentary that you will find beneficial.

C.E.B. Cranfield – Romans: A Shorter Commentary
Shorter doesn’t mean short. It is shorter compared to Cranfield’s 2 Volume ICC commentary. This one is sufficient enough without spending the money on the ICC ones. The downside is the same as Bruce’s downside but still all around an excellent commentary and one I would be sure to consult when teaching or preaching from Romans.

James Dunn – Romans (Word Biblical Commentary)
I haven’t used this commentary but I keep it around for when I need a good commentary on Romans that takes into account the scholarship on the New Perspective on Paul

Douglas Moo – Romans (NIV Application Commentary)
Ideal for teaching and preaching. Very easy to read and understand. It doesn’t take any knowledge of Greek. It is also geared toward making contemporary connections with the meaning of the text and application for teachers and preachers. Douglas Moo is a solid NT scholar and this commentary would be the one I would hand an adult Bible class teacher who wanted study material for their class. If you want more depth from Moo try out his NICNT commentary on Romans.

Robert Jewett – Romans (Hermeneia)
This is widely recognized as one of the most influential and scholarly commentaries on the book of Romans. This along with Hebrews are probably the two most helpful in the Hermeneia commentary series. The detail of this commentary is exceptional. It will require some knowledge of Greek in order to get the fullest enjoyment and help from this commentary but it is possible to use it without knowing Greek. It is also pretty expensive. I lucked out and found mine on clearance at the Pepperdine bookstore for $15.00 still in the wrapper.

Ben Witherington – Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
This is a “must have” on Romans. Witherington traces Paul’s argumentation/rhetoric through the book that will help you get the sense of what Paul is communicating in his letter. I wouldn’t do without this on the shelf.

Tom Wright – Paul for Everyone: Romans
Very introductory of the major themes of Romans. Wright has a way of getting to the point and making it understandable and applicable all in a very small amount of space. If you want more in depth Wright on Romans check out his Romans commentary in the New Interpreter’s Bible.

Articles

N.T. Wright – Romans and the Theology of Paul

N.T. Wright – New Perspectives on Paul

N.T. Wright – Paul and Caesar: A New Reading of Romans

N.T. Wright – The Law in Romans 2

Commentary - JohnTopical

Raymond Brown – Community of the Beloved Disciple
Brown’s take on the Johannine community in the Gospel and Epistles of John.

Marianne Meye Thompson – The God of the Gospel of Joh
The title perfectly describes the book. This book is about how God is described and talked about in the Gospel of John. This is a very helpful book if you are studying John’s theology.

Ben Witherington – Women in the Ministry of Jesus
Both Witherington and the next book by Bauckham go into great length about the women of the Gospels. Witherington starts off with a few chapters about women and culture in the first century and then goes into specific women. Bauckham starts off in the Old Testament to give the roots of the New Testament thinking on women in the gospels and then goes to specific women mentioned in the four gospels.

Richard Bauckham – Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels
See the entry above on Witherington

Commentaries

 

George Beasley-Murray – John (Word Biblical Commentary)
A pretty technical commentary that requires knowledge of Greek in order to fully appreciate. This is one of the first commentaries on John I ever used and so it holds a special place in my heart and is one that I still rely on, particularly if I have a question about the Greek.

Craig Blomberg – The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel
This book would work as a stand alone commentary but it is particularly useful to those who are trying to understand the text itself. What happened with the text in John 8? What other portions of the text are in dispute and how is this tackled from a conservative/fairly traditional perspective?

Frederick Bruner – The Gospel of John: A Commentary
Bruner is great when he is great, which is most of the time. There are some times I think he psycho-analyzes the text and pulls meaning out that I just don’t find there but that is rare. This is an excellent commentary and some of his best work. This is my second favorite on the list, right behind Carson.

Raymond Brown – The Gospel According to John (Anchor Bible Commentary)
This is a classic commentary on the Gospel of John that was a landmark in its day. It is still worthwhile and one I still consult at times but not the first one I go to.

Gary Burge – John: NIV Application Commentary
This is the one you want to recommend to your teachers who are studying and preparing to teach Sunday school, small group, etc. This is also a great commentary for personal study or even devotional study of the Gospel of John. Of all of those listed here, this one is the most introductory/basic while still providing plenty of depth for most students of scripture.

D.A. Carson – The Gospel According to John (Pillar)
This is probably the best one on the list. Carson’s commentary is a little more advanced than some but still readable without an understanding of Greek. This is my top recommendation on the Gospel of John with Bruner right behind it.

Craig Keener – The Gospel of John (Vol 1 & 2)

Gail O’Day – The Gospel of John: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections (New Interpreter’s, Vol 9)

Tom Wright – John for Everyone

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