What commentaries are best?

Discussion in 'Books / Publications Forum' started by iowagirl, Aug 3, 2001.

  1. iowagirl

    iowagirl
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    I was browsing through the SBC book store at a nearby seminary and came across a series of commentaries that included Catholic theologians Raymond Brown, Pheme Perkins, and Irene Nowell. All subscribe to "higher criticism", for lack of a better term. I asked a question or two and the series was highly recommended and, supposedly, was being used in the seminary. I didn't realize the SBC was going that route in terms of Bible study. What Bible commentary would you recommend? What basic theology text would be best? I was looking for Millard Erickson's "Christian Theology," but it wasn't in stock.
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    About the most complete and scholarly, yet readable for the studious Baptist is Emery Bancrofts Christian Theology. It is a simplified version of A.H. Strong's Systematic Theology (which I went thru page by page in seminary but is heavy duty).

    Bancroft also has Elemental Theology which is even more simplified. L.S. Chafer has an 8 volume set that is the "Cadillac".

    As for commentaries, you will not err by starting to pick up John MacArthur's individual book studies. Granted, they are not as "in depth", but 99.9% of the time, they give what is right and needed.

    Modern commentaries like Wiersbe are also helpful. I would be happy to recommend individual books for each Bible book - most sets of commentaries are strong and weak in coverage.

    (For instance, G.Campbell Morgan on the 4 Gospels is excellent; Martin Lloyd-Jones on Ephesians, etc etc)
     
  3. TomVols

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    iowagirl,
    Just because that's in a bookstore doesn't mean the SBC agrees with Roman Catholic commentators. See www.sbc.net and click on "Baptist Faith and Message" to find SBC doctrinal views.

    As to your question, Dr. Bob has a good point. Most commentary sets are good yet can have weak points. It depends on the level of commentary you are wanting. Some commentaries are technical, requiring at least some knowledge of Hebrew or Greek. Some are not technical at all. If you'd like, I have a brochure I give to church members and other Christians looking for solid Bible study materials. I'd be more than happy to email it to you if you like.
     
  4. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Iowagirl,

    I don't know how in depth you are wanting to get or your background, but I can give you the commentaries they I have found useful in my studies as a seminary student and pastor:

    1. Hermeniea Biblical Commentaries: very scholarly and technical

    2. Word Biblical Commentary: Very scholarly but a little easier to read and follow than Hermeniea.

    Hope this helps,

    Joseph
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    There are a number of good sets depending on the depth of your desire. Hermeneia and Word both require a knowledge of original languages that could be an impediment. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament and New Testament (NICOT and NICNT) are both helpful and use the language but do not require it. Like all sets, they have their good and bad.

    Dr. Bob's suggestions are good for basic study. Depending on the depth you want to do, The Expositor's Bible Commentary and the Tyndale Old/New Testament Commentary set are both good sets and are probably the next step up. Then the NICOT/NICNT, then the Word/Hermeneia type of commentary. Homer Kent (BMH Books) has some good ones on individual books but they are not in series.
     
  6. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Pastor Larry,

    That is so true...thank you for that clarification. Although, I do think that Word is probably a little more friendly to lay people than Hermeniea...but you are right...they both do get into the technical aspects of the language.

    Joseph
     
  7. dfd2

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    iowagirl,

    I know that in the core theology class at southern seminary both Dr Ware and Dr Mohler use Errickson's Christian Theology and Grudems Systematic theology. I would highly doubt if you could find any seminary profs at southern that would hold to too many Catholic viewpoints. For commentaries you might want to check out this link from a prof at the Masters Seminary
    http://www.mastersem.edu/750books.htm

    Also does anyone have any comments on the list of books that the author reccomends??
     
  8. Rev. Joshua

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    I think Abingdon's New Interpreter's Bible is perhaps the best and most generally accessible commentary series out right now. It includes the actual texts, in two side-by-side translations, verse-by-verse commentary, thematic commentary, and a reflections section. Alan Culpepper, a baptist, did the Luke commentary.

    Smyth & Helwys has begun a new commentary series, but they only have two volumes so far. In addition, if you are specifically interested in preaching the Interpretation series is very solid.

    As for the presence of Catholic scholars like Father Brown (who was the world's foremost expert on the Gospel of John until his death two years ago); biblical studies is generally a discipline that crosses denominational lines. Notice for instance that Walter Brueggemann (a UCC minister at a Presbyterian seminary) did the Kings commentary for the baptist publishers Smyth and Helwys.
     
  9. BWSmith

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    Ditto to the NIB series. Abingdon also has an Interpreters One-Volume Commentary on the whole Bible & apocrypha that is still in Barnes & Noble. It's from 1971, so it doesn't include all the recent contibutions from minimalist schools schools of thought, but it provides an excellent (bargain) intro to the pre-minimalist scholarly consensus.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    You need to understand that the NIB (like the Anchor Bible series) is a liberal commentary by and large, written by those who deny inerrancy and minimalize other key doctrines. For conservative scholarship (and really even for serious liberal scholarship), NIB is really a marginalized series. I referenced recently for some research in Isaiah and found no significant contributions to the birth prophecy (Isa 7).
     
  11. BWSmith

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    Are there any "liberal" commentaries that you do recommend, Pastor Larry?

    To all: Read both conservative and liberal commentaries and make up your own mind. Disagreement with "the other side" is one thing, but ignorance of their viewpoint is quite another.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by BWSmith:
    Are there any "liberal" commentaries that you do recommend, Pastor Larry?

    To all: Read both conservative and liberal commentaries and make up your own mind. Disagreement with "the other side" is one thing, but ignorance of their viewpoint is quite another.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    You treat my posts like you do the Bible (even though they are not on the same level). You don't read them for what they say; you rather make it say what you want.

    Please quote the part from my post where I said don't read them. ... ... ... ... Thanks, that's what I thought. All I said was "you need to understand" where they are coming from.

    I did not say don't read them. I myself in that post said I had looked at the NIB recently. That means I read it and I am familiar with what it says. It is non technical and denies basic presuppositions. It was not helpful in the least. How did I know the Anchor Bible to be a liberal commentary series?? I read it and have some volumes in my library. How could I disagree with the other side if I was ignorant of their viewpoint? I have several volumes of WBC that are liberal in my library. (Not all of WBC is but some are).

    For certain purposes I do recommend liberal commentaries. I have found that for preaching and basic study they are useless because of the presuppositions they write from. Since you agree with their presuppositions, you probably find them very helpful. They are helpful and necessary for academic research. No attempt at academic research is complete without looking at them.

    However, for a serious student of God's word who wants to approach it from a biblical position, they are not all that helpful. Even more to the point, this thread was started by someone who was looking for some basic evangelical works on various books of the Bible. It did not appear they were looking for deep technical sources but for personal study. The NIB would serve no benefit to them, in my opinion. However, I did not say not to read it. Whenever you read anything, it is helpful to know where they are coming from.

    [ August 08, 2001: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  13. BWSmith

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    Pastor Larry wrote:
    &gt; You treat my posts like you do the Bible (even though they are not on the same level). You don't read them for what they say; you rather make it say what you want.

    This is laughable.

    &gt; Please quote the part from my post where I said don't read them. ... ... ... ... Thanks, that's what I thought. All I said was "you need to understand" where they are coming from.

    Please quote the part from MY post where I implied the above. I never said that you said "Don't read them". I simply said read both and make up your mind.

    Talk about reading something into a post and accusing others of doing it. This is a hilarious hypocrisy, P.L.

    &gt; I did not say don't read them. I myself in that post said I had looked at the NIB recently. That means I read it and I am familiar with what it says. It is non technical and denies basic presuppositions.

    How technical and basic are "technical and basic"? I find it sufficiently technical for its intended purpose of informing the clergy from a Christian perspective.

    &gt; It was not helpful in the least. How did I know the Anchor Bible to be a liberal commentary series?? I read it and have some volumes in my library. How could I disagree with the other side if I was ignorant of their viewpoint? I have several volumes of WBC that are liberal in my library. (Not all of WBC is but some are).

    Did I accuse you of being ignorant of other viewpoints? I missed that in my post somewhere.

    &gt; For certain purposes I do recommend liberal commentaries. I have found that for preaching and basic study they are useless because of the presuppositions they write from.

    They are useless for supporting an inerrantist position, I agree.

    &gt; Since you agree with their presuppositions, you probably find them very helpful. They are helpful and necessary for academic research. No attempt at academic research is complete without looking at them.

    Amen!

    &gt; However, for a serious student of God's word who wants to approach it from a biblical position,

    As opposed to my "non-Biblical" position? Hmmm?

    &gt; they are not all that helpful. Even more to the point, this thread was started by someone who was looking for some basic evangelical works on various books of the Bible. It did not appear they were looking for deep technical sources but for personal study. The NIB would serve no benefit to them, in my opinion. However, I did not say not to read it.

    Nor did I accuse you of such. I asked which liberal commentaries you liked. You answered with WBC. Thank you.

    &gt; Whenever you read anything, it is helpful to know where they are coming from.

    Amen!
     
  14. Rev. Joshua

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    Pastor Larry,

    You'll note that I said "generally accessible" as a qualifier on the NIB. I think it build a great bridge between simple Bible study and careful scholarship. The authors always lay out the key critical issues in the texts as well as providing side-by-side comparisons of the two most popular translations. The footnotes are generally extensive, and provide groundwork for more serious exploration.

    I think it is ideal for someone looking for "personal study" because it provides both verse-by-verse exegesis and general reflections - often phrased as questions. I'm not sure why, in one paragraph you criticize it for being "non-technical" and then close with pointing out that the poster is looking for "non-technical" commentaries. Doesn't that mean that the NIB is perfect for her.

    As to the "evangelical" bit, the contributors to the NIB are by-and-large Methodists and baptists. In addition, Abingdon is a Methodist publishing house. Of course there is evangelical scholarship in there.

    Also, could you clarify what basic "presuppositions" the NIB "denies." In my experience, the NIB examines facts, not presuppositions. Facts like "this word means this" and "this looks like a paraphrase of this."

    Joshua
     
  15. Chick Daniels

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    Two up and coming commentary sets that are excellent are the Baker Exegetical New Testament Commentary, and the Pillar New Testament Commentary. The Baker set is more exhaustive (Luke on Bock is enormous), has a nice format, and is still readable for the layperson. The Pillar set published by Eerdmans is excellent for the lay person, and yet it delves into the text with solid exegesis. Both sets have authors within the conservative evangelical movement (D.A. Carson, Leon Morris, Darrell Bock, etc.)

    The only volumes appearing so far are:
    BECNT:
    Luke, Darrell Bock
    Romans, Thomas Schreiner
    Philippians, Moises Silva

    PNTC:
    Matthew, Leon Morris
    John, D. A. Carson
    Romans, Leon Morris
    James, Doug Moo
    John's Epistles, Colin Kruse

    Best wishes,

    Chick
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    Josh,

    The NIB is weak in that it:

    1. For the most part denies inerrancy.
    2. For the most part denies unity and authenticity of books.
    3. In many cases it chooses late dates so as to avoid the problems of predictive prophecy.
    4. It appears to consider the apocryphal books (uniformly rejected as equal with Scripture by the church fathers) on a par with the canon of Scripture.

    If someone like yourself, wants a commentary series that is complete and adequate for Bible study, the Expositor's Bible Commentary is a much wiser choice. I have most of the volumes of the EBC and it is a much better source for serious Bible study.
     
  17. TomVols

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Pastor Larry:

    If someone like yourself, wants a commentary series that is complete and adequate for Bible study, the Expositor's Bible Commentary is a much wiser choice. I have most of the volumes of the EBC and it is a much better source for serious Bible study.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I'd tend to agree. I have the entire set, and I use it often. As far as complete sets go (by multiple authors), this one is uniformly reliable for the most part.
    I like the NICOT/NICNT and glean much from it quite often; I can't wait for the entire set to be finished.
    I had high hopes for the New American Commentary from Broadman and Holman. Many individual volumes are good, but some are not worth the price IMHO. I'll probably buy the set anyway since I'd probably spend the money on food or clothing anyhow [​IMG] a
    Let me add a plug here for a set that isn't mentioned much, and that's Matthew Poole's commentary on the Bible (Hendrickson, 3 vols.). It is written in a style similar to Matthew Henry, yet much more expositional in nature. Very good commentary set.
     
  18. Rev. Joshua

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    Larry,

    I'm comfortable with the several collections of commentaries in my study. I was making recommendations for a layperson, not asking advice for myself.

    As to your concerns:

    1 - How does a commentator "deny inerrancy?" They look at the words, they tell you what they mean, they tell you where else the words are used, and they provide the context in which they were written.

    2 - Unity? I wouldn't give a plug nickel for the opinions of someone who believes that Genesis or Isaiah (for instance) were written in their entirety by one person.

    Authenticity? Um, I don't think I understand your point here. All of the contributors to the NIB whom I have read seem to believe the books belong in the canon.

    3 - Dating: This is generally left to each contributor's discretion, and not something that undercuts the value of the scholarship.

    4 - I haven't read anything that treats the Apocrypha as canonical scripture; although when appropriate they do cite the influence and relevance of non-canonical literature.

    As for the Expositor's Commentary, I've never found it to be particularly scholarly (although I've only spent a little time with it). Of course, no single commentary series is going to provide comprehensive or indepth scholarship (like that required for post-M.Div. graduate work), but they should at least provide a gateway to that scholarship. Generally, not only did I not recognize the names of the scholars writing the EBC volumes, I didn't recognize their sources.

    I stand by my statement that the New Interpreter's Bible is the best resource for a layperson looking for in-depth bible study or for the clergyperson looking for an overview of the scholarship on a text.

    Joshua

    [ August 09, 2001: Message edited by: CJoshuaV ]
     
  19. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> I'm comfortable with the several collections of commentaries in my study. I was making recommendations for a layperson, not asking advice for myself.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It appeared that by your question, and additionally by your responses, that you are uninformed on some of this literature. I was not slamming your for it. Simply recommending a good commentary series. If you are satisfied then have at it. As for me, I am always looking for good recommendations to add to my library. Didn’t mean to offend you by presuming you are interested in good commentaries as well.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>How does a commentator "deny inerrancy?" They look at the words, they tell you what they mean, they tell you where else the words are used, and they provide the context in which they were written.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    They deny it by not attributing truthfulness to the writing in its entirety. When you deny inerrancy, it is impossible to come to a biblical conclusion on the meaning of many texts.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Unity? I wouldn't give a plug nickel for the opinions of someone who believes that Genesis or Isaiah (for instance) were written in their entirety by one person. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This is sad to hear from someone professing to love the Bible. If you do not believe that Genesis or Isaiah were written in their entirety by one person, then you are denying the basic claims of Scripture. You again appear vastly uninformed on the implications of the position you are taking. The unity of Isaiah is denied by those who wish to deny supernatural predictive prophecy. I question the scholarship of anyone who denies that Moses wrote the Pentateuch or that Isaiah wrote Isaiah.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Authenticity? Um, I don't think I understand your point here. All of the contributors to the NIB whom I have read seem to believe the books belong in the canon.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Here, you indicate your lack of knowledge. Authenticity was listed with unity because they go hand in hand. Authenticity says that the work is genuinely the product of the man who claims to have written it. There all of Isaiah was written by Isaiah; All of Micah was written by Micah; etc. It has nothing to do with belonging in the canon. Bullock says, “ Unity of though (not of structure) follows as a corollary of authenticity, but the reverse is not true” (Intro to the Old Testament Prophetic Books, p. 314).

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Dating: This is generally left to each contributor's discretion, and not something that undercuts the value of the scholarship.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Dating has been recently (in the last 150 years or so) questioned from the traditional dates. Liberal/modernist theology has refused to accept predictive prophecy because of the obvious implications of it and therefore were constrained to jettison it by giving late dates. It testified to the supernatural origin of the writing. For instance, parts of Isaiah have been given a late date because of the prophecies several hundred years prior to the occurrence. In order to deny supernatural revelation (to say that it was just man’s observations) late dates were supposed. It tremendously undercuts the value of scholarship because it undercuts the meaning of the text.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I haven't read anything that treats the Apocrypha as canonical scripture; although when appropriate they do cite the influence and relevance of non-canonical literature.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    On this you may be right. I have not read the NIB at these portions enough to know. By virtue of the fact that they have commentaries on the Apocryphal books in the same volumes are as they do the canonical books, I assume that they view them equally. I have no issue if they only cite the relevance of them. However, I do not know that to be the case.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>As for the Expositor's Commentary, I've never found it to be particularly scholarly (although I've only spent a little time with it). <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It is not written to be scholarly and technical as I earlier said. It is an entry-level study tool, giving a good overview and discussion of pertinent points. It does not purport to be the “be all and end all” of commentaries. You are right that no single commentary series is sufficient for research, I would say even at an MDiv level.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Generally, not only did I not recognize the names of the scholars writing the EBC volumes, I didn't recognize their sources.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Carson on Matthew, R.L. Thomas on 1& 2 Thessalonians, Van Gemeren on the Psalms; Ross on Proverbs, Everett Harrison on Romans, Murray J. Harris on 2 Corinthians; J. Barton Payne on 2 Chronicles; McComiskey on Micah (the editor of probably the best series on the Minor Prophets); Archer on Daniel; Barker on Zechariah, etc. These (plus others) are widely recognized names in evangelical scholarship who are contributors to the series. As for their sources, I just pulled one off the shelf to look at it. If you don’t recognize those sources, then … man … I don’t know what to say. Do you read at all???

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I stand by my statement that the New Interpreter's Bible is the best resource for a layperson looking for in-depth bible study or for the clergyperson looking for an overview of the scholarship on a text.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That’s fine. I will stand by mine that the NIB is for the most part of waste of time and money that would be better spent elsewhere. Those who desire to study more can get them out and compare them with other commentaries.

    [ August 09, 2001: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     

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