Education B.A., M.Div
2 Peter and Jude. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1987.
A bit dated now, but still a good option where options are not abundant- a pastoral, non-technical commentary on 2 Peter & Jude.
Acts. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1988.
Willimon's concise, theological-pastoral commentary capably accomplishes the goals of the Interpretation series- specifically geared towards preaching. This one could have some more filling out, but it's still a good option for getting a sense of how the preacher can unpack Acts in a homiletical context.
Acts. Belief. Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.
A very different sort of commentary. This does not provide the normal historical-grammatical exposition, or critical approach material. Instead, Jennings focuses on reading the text for contemporary theological reflection and preaching, noting the spiritual vibrancy of the narrative of Acts, and how the unfolding work of the Spirit among the Apostles informs the ongoing prophetic and spiritual work of the Church in the present. If you are looking for insights into the Greek text, or intertexuality or socio-rhetorical analysis, or textual criticism, or traditional exposition, you won't find it here. That said, it is useful, and inspiring for a very different purpose, and Jennings succeeds in accomplishing what he sets out to do. For the reader open to something out of the ordinary in their commentary library, this is a must.
Ephesians. ANTC. Abingdon Press, 1997.
A really good pastoral-theological commentary. As per the goals of the series, this is not focused on analysis of the Greek text. Perkins focuses considerable attention on the ways Ephesians is unique compared to other Pauline epistles.
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. BNTC. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.
For a lay audience, or pastor, the Black's series is a really good option, as it tends to avoid getting into technical Greek, and even transliteration is rare. But unlike other series taking that approach, Black's is still a scholarly work, and covers the critical scholarship questions, but in an accessible way. Barrett authored several volumes in the series, and this volume, and his volume on 1 Corinthians are among the best in the series at achieving that goal of balancing pastoral relevance with scholarly rigour.
First and Second Thessalonians. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1998.
This is a succinct theological commentary. Gaventa hits the goals of the series extremely well, and highlights the pastoral and eschatological notes of Paul to the Thessalonians, and how those two dimensions relate to each other.
Ephesians. 2 Vols. AYB. Yale University Press, 1974.
A 2 volume commentary on Ephesians feels excessive. Barth's work is certainly exhaustive, as sometimes happens in the Anchor Bible series (see Raymond Brown's 800 pager on the Johannine Epistles, or Andersen & Freeman's 900 pager on Amos). That said, Barth's work is absolutely top notch, if you have time to spend, or are doing more in depth, scholarly work in Ephesians. His analysis of 2:8-9 is particularly good, and ahead of its time (pre-Sanders' PPJ, but still noting some of the common misconceptions of early Judaism some interpreters infer from Paul's use of the language of works and justification). His examination of the always controversial haustafel is extensive, and sensitive to the variety of cultural connections of hellenism and jewish expectations. Overall, and very important, and still relevant commentary.
The Letter to the Ephesians. NICNT. Eerdmans, 2020.
Precisely what you'd expect from the NICNT and Lynn Cohick. There are the typical categories in the intro, in which Cohick leans away from pseudonymity. The level of detail in addressing critical concerns is definitely sufficient without getting dragged into every small detail. The NICNT format makes for easy reading and finding what one is looking for in the exposition. There are tons of additional technical info and secondary source interaction in the footnotes. Cohick engages with the secondary sources (including a brief section in the intro on the NPP) without it becoming a commentary on commentaries. This is likely to become a gold standard on Ephesians.
The Pastoral Epistles. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1990.
Intro level commentary for pastors and lay readers, from an evangelical perspective. Achieves the goals of the series.
Genesis. BCOT. Baker Academic, 2020.
Precisely what you'd expect from John Goldingay, given his contribution in the Baker series on the Psalms. Goldingay provides a pericope overview, followed by his own, dynamic, fresh translation, with extensive footnotes, followed by a verse by verse interpretation, and finally an "implications" section which unpacks the passages place in biblical theology and theology more broadly. The introduction is surprisingly compact, and doesn't get into all the weeds of source criticism, etc. Overall, and outstanding commentary.
“Matthew” in Matthew, Mark, Luke. EBC. Zondervan, 1984.
Admittedly, I'm not a fan of the EBC series. Carson's Matthew section is among the better parts of the series. But with several better options, this one doesn't get much use.
Psalms. NCBC. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
A single volume on the Psalms will never be able to cover everything in depth. This is the first volume in this series I owned. I'm quite pleased with the simple, user friendly format. The focus tends away from linguistics, and focuses on genre, purpose, uses, and theology.
1–3 John. SGBC. Zondervan, 2017.
For someone without advanced theological education, this is a decent option. Gives an overview of the original context, and then relates the text to contemporary application. Of the volumes in this series I've interacted with, I'd say this is the best volume so far.
1–2 Samuel. SGBC. Zondervan, 2018.
Had high hopes for this one, but I find it a bit lacking, even for a more intro level commentary.
Daniel. SGBC. Zondervan, 2016.
Takes a more conservative approach to dating and text-critical issues, but does not present a very convincing argument.
Matthew. UBNT. Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.
There's just not much there. Brevity can be good, but this one is too skimpy.
The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude. PNTC. Eerdmans, 2006.
As with Peter Davids' other well known commentaries on the catholic epistles (James in NIGTC, and 1 Peter in NICNT) he is able to balance critical scholarship with pastoral relevance and clear exposition. A great choice for pastors and students. Less technical than Bauckham, so more widely readable.
The Gospel of Matthew. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 2005.
This commentary is precisely what you would anticipate from John Nolland, and from the NIGTC series. Keenly focused on analysis of the Greek text, with significant attention paid to synoptic comparison. Highly technical, well formatted, and reliable.
Habakkuk. THOTC. Eerdmans, 2018.
Thomas captures well the vision and goal of the series, presenting an exposition of the text which is a reliable semi-technical/pastoral commentary, and then presenting a theological reading which explores themes and contextual application of the text. Great resource for preaching.
The Song of Songs. Herm. Fortress Press, 1990.
I was surprised to find that the introduction was roughly half of the overall page count. Of course, the history of interpretation of SoS is complicated and worth exploring in depth. The intent of the series is a more technical examination of text, with less emphasis on theological exposition, so this volume is a bit light (but not entirely lacking) with regard to theological meaning of the text.
Song of Songs. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2001.
This is the standard in evangelical circles. It is solid, reliable, but at times unremarkable- little makes it stand out over other commentaries. That said, it is a good choice to go to for a straighforward reading. The NICOT format being so user-friendly, this is a great option if you don't anticipate having a large collection of SoS commentaries.
Dempsey, Carol J.; Reid, Barbara E. eds.Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. WC. Liturgical Press, 2017.
One might wonder how a commentary on Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah from a womanist perspective would even be possible, but Wilda Gafney brings the benefit of her hermeneutical approach as well as more traditional elements of commentary writing and various interpretive methodologies into an accessible and pastoral commentary.
Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary. Baker Academic, 2011.
Hamilton provides his own translation, which is quite good, textual notes, and exposition which is at the high end of semi-technical, so not scholarly to the point of being inaccessible to non-specialists. A great fit for pastors, upper-level theology students, and even scholars.
Lamentations. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.
Top notch, scholarly commentary, which is focused more on literary forms than theology, but still captures the thrust of the text well.
Galatians. PC. Deo Publishing, 2008.
Surprisingly deep in detail given the page count. As one would expect from Fee, the role of Spirit is a primary focus of this volume. The introduction is a bit on the short side, avoiding some of the debates about dating and location of recipients and other secondary/tertiary issues. Exposition gives an overview of the pericope followed by more detailed interpretation on a single verse or a few verses together. Greek words are not transliterated, but there isn't a lot of analysis of syntax or text critical items. Overall, a very good commentary for pastors or students.
The Letter to the Galatians. NICNT. Eerdmans, 2018.
Outstanding piece of scholarship from an author who is able to balance various perspectives, weigh them graciously, and present his own take clearly and decisively. An extensive introduction unpacks all the difficult questions of date and recipients (e.g. North Galatia vs. South Galatia). The exposition then follows the standard of the NICNT under the editorial leadership of Fee and Green which is more in depth that previous volumes during the time when FF Bruce was editor. DeSilva is able to retain the pastoral relevance of the older volumes, while expanding the scholarly aspects, without getting lost in the weeds. For example, much of the extensive discussion of subjective vs. objective genitives in 2:16 is moved to an excursus, as is much of the discussion of Paul's use of "works of the law". Much of the interaction with secondary sources is in the footnotes so as to not bog down the exposition. So this commentary can be easily navigated by a pastor looking for specific insights/clarifications, or by scholars doing more extensive study. DeSilva largely sides with the traditional protestant readings, while graciously engaging with the New Perspective. Overall a great commentary. Even with the vast numbers of commentaries on Galatians by outstanding scholars, this one manages to stand out and be relevant and worth adding to the collection alongside giants (Bruce, Longenecker, Dunn, Fee, etc).
The Epistle to the Hebrews. NICNT. Eerdmans, 2012.
A fresh take on Hebrews, which focuses attention on the Pastoral emphasis of Hebrews, even calling the anonymous author the Pastor. The intro covers all the usual commentary topics, without getting bogged down in all the difficulties with Hebrews- its author, origin, recipients, etc. The exegesis itself is a good balance of technical analysis, exposition, and pastoral relevance.
Leviticus, Numbers. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2004.
As far as pastoral commentaries on Leviticus go, Gane is a solid option. Taking Leviticus into contemporary application isn't easy, but Gane is able to work with the intention of the NIVAC bridge the gap between the original context and contemporary church.
1 Peter. ANTC. Abingdon Press, 1999.
Deeper than your average pastoral commentary, but still very much relevant for preaching. This is a very engaging, astute, and all-around solid commentary. Exposition is done on pericope sized chunks rather than verse by verse which helps highlight the flow of the overall text.
James. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1988.
Martin is the NT editor of the WBC series, so he is very comfortable with the format of the series, which isn't the best, but Martin is able to work well with it in this volume, as he did in his volume on 2 Cor and co-authored volume on Philippians. This is right up there with McKnight (NICNT) and Johnson (AB) as the best commentaries on James. Martin's introduction covers all the difficult questions of sources and style/genre of James and historical setting. His exposition is detailed, and as always, Martin's translation is engaging and avoids the wooden translations of some commentators.
Mark 1:1-8:26. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1989.
Not the first commentary I go to, but this one is still reliable, sound, detailed.
Matthew. 2 Vols. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1993.
Top notch technical commentary, which follows the less-than-ideal format. I prefer France, but Hagner's more detailed intro and technical examination make a great alternative, deeper, commentary.
Jeremiah. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 1986.
A bit speculative at times regarding source, redactions/development of the text, and occasionally indecisive about interpretations, but overall a very good commentary for those looking a for a mix of critical scholarship and exposition. Engages a variety of interpretive options, and provides the author's preferred conclusions, though sometimes with less conviction that one might want.
Daniel. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1985.
Succinct theological commentary, from a more critical position, but aimed at a wide audience and not just for specialists.
Joshua. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 1997.
A well balanced technical commentary, taking both criticism and exposition seriously.
Isaiah. 3 Vols. AYB. Yale University Press, 2003.
Blenkinsopp has published several works on Isaiah, Ezekiel, and exilic/post-exilic Israel, and this is arguably the best technical and critical commentary on the Book of Isaiah. Balanced, thorough, and deeply engaged in a variety of streams of analysis.
Revelation. NTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.
I prefer this one to more frequently recommended volumes (Beale, Mounce, Aune). It isn't as in depth and engaged with intertextual stuff as Koester, but still sufficiently detailed, and easier to read.
Revelation. AYB. Yale University Press, 2014.
As more commentaries which seek to rescue Revelation from the excesses of dispensationalist readings, the better off we all are. Koester seeks to root Revelation firmly in the historical context of the late first century, and reads the text in light of archaeology and extra-biblical texts of similar genre, and in so doing, presents Revelation not as a chronology of the end of days written well in advance, but as a critique of the world in which the original readers lived.
Proverbs. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1998.
Murphy is among the leading scholars of the wisdom literature, and his work on both Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Word series are outstanding. Murphy is able to work well within the problematic format of the WBC, placing most of the important stuff in the comment section rather than embedding a lot of it with the form/structure/setting section, as sometimes happens.
Judges. BO. Liturgical Press, 2000.
Critical scholar, focusing on narrative features of the text. Generally a great source for uncovering the artistry of the narratives in Judges, but does occasionally get lost in critical analysis and misses a lot of the theological wrestling which Judges should cause. Throughout, God is often referred to simply as "the deity", which I found a bit odd, suggesting something of a lack of personal encounter between the people in the narrative or the narrator and YHWH. But overall, I do like this commentary.
Judges. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.
A bit light on detail, but still an excellent, balanced commentary from a critical perspective.
I and II Kings. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.
A balanced approach, but a bit too scant on detail, given that the OTL is a more advanced, in depth series.
First and Second Kings. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1987.
A great example of a pastoral commentary doing what a pastoral commentary should do. Kings doesn't always make for exciting preaching, but Nelson draws out relevant connections to bring the text into the present.
1 Kings. BO. Liturgical Press, 1996.
Berit Olam focuses on literary forms, analyzing the text. Walsh's 1 Kings volume accomplishes the goals of the the series with great success.
James. SP. Liturgical Press, 2003.
I was not impressed with the interpretation of chapter 2, but otherwise, a good pastoral commentary.
“Habakkuk” in Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. WC. Liturgical Press, 2017.
The series focuses on a feminist reading of the text, which one wouldn't expect possible, but is exceptionally captured in this volume.
Hosea-Micah. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1988.
Concise, but to the point of being a bit skimpy. Limburg is fine writer (see his Jonah commentary in OTL series). The goals of the interpretations series hamper this volume as the introductions have to be incredibly brief, and unable to provide any real overview or analysis of provisional questions. But for the general reader, the exposition itself covers the important theological points well.
Amos. AYB. Yale University Press, 1989.
Rarely, if ever, do I consider a commentary to be too detailed. This one could fit that descriptor. It does require selective reading to find the important stuff you want. Nevertheless, it is outstanding. It's not one you'll read every word of, but skim and sift to find what you want, and this is a goldmine of information, and even with two authors, the writing is extremely smooth and well crafted. But, 1000 pages is a tad excessive for a book the size of Amos.
Luke. NTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2012.
A great commentary with special attention to Luke as a storyteller (taking a "literary reading" p. 7) but still engaging with the theological and ethical vision which emerges from the narrative flow of Luke. The intro is a bit too short for my liking, but footnotes key sources for more details and highlights the author's main influences for underlying issues. Exegesis is detailed without being overwhelming, and clearly presented in the NTL's user-friendly format (author's own translation of pericope, followed by textual notes, then exposition, usually of 2-3 verses at a time).
The Gospel of John. SP. Liturgical Press, 1998.
Moloney is Salesian scholar with a specialty in the Gospel books. The SP series is strong on reading the text without venturing in commenting on secondary source discussions (commentary on commentaries). Provides textual notes which translation, text critical, intertextual points, and an interpretation of the pericope as a whole (similar to Anchor, but much easier to read without the parenthetical notations). Greek words appear transliterated. Overall, this is among the best semi-technical commentaries on John I've used. Though it's definitely Roman Catholic in orientation (esp important in John 6), it still an outstanding commentary for a broad audience.
Lamentations. AOTC. Abingdon Press, 2003.
Fits somewhere between introductory/popular level and semi-technical commentary. User-friendly, but still sufficiently detailed. Focuses considerable attention on the raw emotional power of the dramatically worded poetry.
Jeremiah 1-25. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1991.
A bit uneven and awkward because of the multiple authors, but still a reliable, technical commentary.
I and II Thessalonians. NTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.
Since the publication of FF Bruce's WBC volume, nothing, even Gordon Fee's NICNT, has surpassed Bruce's work, in my humble opinion. That said, Eugene Boring has come close with a more current commentary engaging with the work done since Bruce's volume. Boring is a more critical scholar, arguing against Pauline authorship of 2 Thess, though this does not hamper his interpretation. This commentary feature numerous excurses which provides greater detail of certain topics so the exposition doesn't get bogged down. The NTL format is user friendly, features the author's own translations, and features a diverse group of authors. Boring comes from a mainline protestant position, and so some interpretive conclusions may seem surprising to conservative evangelical readers. But overall, Boring has produced a helpful commentary for pastors, seminarians, and scholars to chew on, and is a significant contribution to Pauline studies, adding something outside the typical repeated conclusions of so many other Thessalonians commentaries.
A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming. Eerdmans, 1998.
An absolutely brilliant commentary focusing on a sociological and literary reading of the text, capturing the raw, pathos-filled depiction of the experience of Jeremiah and the people of Judah, and the revisioning of God's purposes in history- the tearing down and building up (1:10, 31:28).
Esther. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 1997.
Outstanding critical scholarship, written by a Jewish scholar for a broader audience. Incorporates comments on LXX portions not in the MT, as well as attention paid to AT and proto-Esther, giving a more rounded view of the reception and redaction history and not just the final form of the MT. Engaging, astute, and keenly attentive to literary nuance and storytelling methods. Scholarly, but not inaccessible.
The Letter to the Colossians. NICNT. Eerdmans, 2018.
An up to date commentary, written for the church/pastor to engage with on both the theological and ethical/practical level. McKnight defends Pauline authorship, though not dogmatically. Exegesis is both engaged with technical elements, but also designed to provide good teaching material for pastors.
Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Commentary. Eerdmans, 2011.
An outstanding, user-friendly, engaging, and helpful semi-technical commentary, geared towards pastors and students. At times Hultgren goes against the current in his conclusions, arguing that Romans 1 does not apply to covenant marriage relations between same gendered individuals, and that Romans 5 should be read as universalist. Addition comments on Romans 1 and human sexuality are developed in a really great appendix, which, in spite of what most evangelicals' knee jerk reaction will suggest, is really well argued. Even if one disagrees with his conclusions on those two passages, it's worth engaging with a different reading, and can't take away from the value of this commentary as a whole.
1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. THNTC. Eerdmans, 2012.
Wall's "Rule of Faith" approach helps avoid some of the common trends in commentaries on the Pastorals- spending huge amounts of space defending or refuting Pauline authorship. He certainly doesn't ignore those questions, but allows them to be noted and then move on to what the text offers as received Scripture. This creates some problems of its own in order to avoid other problems. But overall, it's a good theological commentary, though the case studies- interesting as they may be- feel a bit out of place.
2 Peter & Jude. THNTC. Eerdmans, 2007.
Achieves the goals of the series quite well, balancing semi-technical exposition of the text (not verse by verse, but section by section), and theological reading.
Hoskyns, Edwyn C. ed. The Epistle to the Romans. Oxford University Press, 1968.
Important for the history of interpretation, but beyond that, it's not really all that helpful, and it's dry as toast.
The Acts of the Apostles. SP. Liturgical Press, 2006.
An outstanding partner to his Luke commentary in the same series.
Psalms 1–50 (2nd ed.). WBC. Zondervan Academic, 2004.
The original volume is quite dated, hence it was updated by Tate who wrote volume 2. But the multi-author 3 volume set, is, as noted by several reviewers, unbalanced. I personally think Allen's third volume is stronger than this one. But I still find this volume quite useful, and a bit less difficult to manage than other volumes in the series.
Ruth, Esther. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1996.
Having read Jobes' commentary on Esther, and loving it, I wanted to add a more technical commentary for the detailed linguistic and historical bits. Bush was highly recommended, and has not disappointed. I haven't done much at all with the Ruth portion, but the little I have checked is solid. Strong on history, as well as theology. Avoids lengthy speculation about redactions, sources, dating, etc. though not completely uninterested in such discussion. Thorough, but still very usable for various audiences; pastors, upper level students, scholars.
Ezra-Nehemiah. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 1988.
More technical than Fensham, and more reader-friendly formatting than Williamson. Blenkinsopp is Roman Catholic, critical scholar, who writes beautifully. The introduction lays out the historical criticism issues, as well as engaging with canonical criticism approaches.
The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1983.
More pastor-friendly than Williamson and Blenkinsopp, with less discussion of text criticism and historical criticism. Still provides enough depth to feel sufficient. Could maybe use some revision to engage with some commentaries which have been published since.
Ezra-Nehemiah. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1985.
The three commentaries on Ezra-Nehemiah I rely on (Williamson, Fensham, Blenkinsopp) were all published around the same time, but still hold up quite well. Williamson is the most technical of the three. If you are willing to work with the somewhat annoying WBC format, this is a wonderful commentary, especially the introduction, which is surprisingly short for a technical commentary (roughly 30 pages) but distilled well, avoiding speculative tangents.
Romans. SP. Liturgical Press, 1996.
Jesuit scholar Brendan Byrne has put together an outstanding semi-technical commentary, in a series focused on exposition of the text itself, avoiding delving into secondary debates. Byrne makes use of rhetorical critical methodology to demonstrate the text's focus on persuading the audience of the implications and fullness of the Gospel. Byrne's translations follow a fairly conventional line. He offers an interpretation of each pericope followed by textual notes which explore lexical, syntactical, and intertextual aspects (though other volumes in the series do the interpretation after the notes).
Colossians. NTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.
Takes Colossians as pseudonymous, though not dogmatic or abrasive about that position, and it doesn't seem to have a major impact on the exegetical conclusions. As with most volumes in the NTL, Sumney writes from a moderately critical perspective, and presents a strong, but not inaccessibly technical discussion of the text, but still has pastoral/preaching concerns in view.
Ezekiel. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1990.
At less the 250 pages, one wouldn't think anyone could possibly provide sufficient detail on a book the size of Ezekiel to be much help for anything, but this is incredibly good; a fine pastoral focused commentary. Blenkinsopp is a Roman Catholic critical scholar, who usually writes for a more scholarly audience, but here he condenses extensive knowledge and research into something to make a very strange book preachable.
Letters And Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy And 1-3 John. LHHJC. IVP Academic, 2006.
Not as detailed as the socio-rhetorical commentaries published by Eerdmans, most of which were written by Witherington. There are a few nitpicky issues where Witherington and I disagree (particularly in 1 John), but overall this a good commentary for pastors and students. It's interesting to see the Pastoral Epistles and the Epistles of John in a volume together. But he gives each its due, covering the rhetorical and contextual features of each of the documents in the introductions, as well and giving a basic exposition of the text, with several excurses to go a bit deeper into particular lexical, contextual, or rhetorical elements.
Daniel. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2014.
Exceptional work, particularly on historical context and reception, literary style, and purpose. Brennan Breed provides additional comments on historical reception- both Jewish and Christian. Thoroughly engages with secondary sources and builds on previous works and adds fresh research and perspective. It's very readable, and engaging, but still deeply scholarly. Newsom concludes that the though the narrative traditions of 1-6 are mostly written in Aramaic, and feature Akkadian and Persian elements, indicating origins in the Eastern Diaspora, their final form, and the apocalyptic visions of 7-12 come from Jerusalem or its vicinity in the period of Antiochus IV.
Ezekiel. 2 Vols. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1994.
Allen is where I go first, in spite of the format of WBC.
The Letter to Philemon. NICNT. Eerdmans, 2017.
Kudos to Scot McKnight for insisting that Philemon be a separate volume so that it could be unpacked more fully. This volume does have a very different feel than Fitzmyer's Anchor Bible commentary on Philemon, focusing on the social aspects surrounding the text of Philemon, and connecting that to the present where the institution of slavery doesn't look the same, but is still part of the cultural conversation which needs to be unpacked and into which Philemon can speak in a unique way. I wish this had been available when I preached through Philemon in 2016.
The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 1996.
The Philemon portion is a bit disappointing. But the Colossians commentary is excellent, though perhaps a bit too certain in the suggestion that Colossians is pseudonymous, which colours some interpretive conclusions. That said, this is more engaging and user-friendly than some of the other volumes in this series, and provides more theological insights. That said, the focus of the series is to do deep analysis of the Greek text, which Dunn does. So for upper-level students and those with formal training in Greek, this is very helpful.
The Book of Hosea. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2010.
Dearman and Stuart (WBC) are my first choices for Hosea. Dearman, because his volume is solely on Hosea and not paired with other prophetic books, is able to do more exploration of theological interpretation and engage with other secondary sources that Stuart. This is great if you have the time to go beyond the brevity of a volume commenting on multiple prophets in a single volume. The NICOT format is also more engaging and reader friendly than WBC.
Ecclesiastes. THOTC. Eerdmans, 2011.
The Two Horizons series is a good place to explore some difficult questions which come up in regards to Ecclesiastes. The essays in the second portion (the theological horizon) unpacks some of the difficulties with the pessimism of the text in relation to the rest of the bible. The exegesis is not as detailed as Murphy or Longman, but still meaty, and may be tough for lay-readers and he deals frequently with the Hebrew text, sometimes leaving it untranslated, rather than using his own translation or a standard English translation. This was the first volume in this series I picked up, and has encouraged me to grab a few more, and I have been happy with them, though this is still the one that stands out among those volumes.
Ecclesiastes. BCOT. Baker Academic, 2009.
Worth having, though not my first choice (Murphy). Some of Bartholomew's translations choices make the English awkward sounding. He also leans a bit too much on Barth in his interpretation section, though these sections are still fresh and valuable, and is intentionally not regurgitating the standard conclusions. His introduction is, I think, the strongest aspect of this commentary, and takes full advantage of coming after other important commentaries on Ecclesiastes, engaging well in the introduction with Longman, Murphy, Seow, but does less valuable interaction in the commentary section. The textual analysis is somewhat limited. All that said, this is still a good commentary, worth consulting, as it does have a very different feel compared to others.
Ecclesiastes. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1992.
The best option on Qoheleth, and among the best volumes in this series, which has many outstanding volumes. Detailed, balanced, and unlike many more technical commentaries, Murphy is not only insightful, but engaging, occasionally throwing in humour, and simply put interesting to read. Murphy has spent so much time on the wisdom books, one can't help but tip the hat to his expertise, which is on display here.
The Book of Ecclesiastes. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1997.
Having spent some time preaching on Ecclesiastes for the first time, I found this to be a solid, reliable, though unsurprising. I'm not sure why other commentators make the criticisms they do, since Longman doesn't venture into wild speculation, and stays well within common, sound interpretive conclusions. It's the best commentary available from a specifically evangelical scholar, and arguably only bested by Roland Murphy.
First Corinthians. SP. Liturgical Press, 2007.
A decent mid-level commentary from a Roman Catholic perspective.
The Book of Genesis. 2 Vols. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1995.
I find the division between the volumes to be oddly placed (and really, could be a single volume). But I do think this is arguably the best choice on Genesis. It would benefit from a revision, given the work that's been published over the past almost 30 years. But it is still relevant, and in most ways exceeds more recent works. For example, it is far more balanced than Walton, giving proportionately less space to chapters 1-3.
Genesis. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 2008.
Way too skimpy for my liking, even for an intro level commentary. There's just not much to it. I actually gave my copy away because it wasn't really useful.
2 Samuel. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1989.
Pairs very well with Klein's work on 1 Samuel. Critical, but not overly so, and a tad light on theologicical insight and more focused on form and genre, otherwise excellent.
1 Samuel (2nd ed.). WBC. Zondervan Academic, 2000.
A little light on exposition, and not as thorough as Tsumura, but still very helpful commentary by a top notch scholar on OT narrative texts.
1 Kings (2nd ed.). WBC. Thomas Nelson, 2004.
After spending two years leading a bible study on 1 & 2 Samuel, and then spilling into 1 Kings and the end of David's life, I've spent quite a bit of time with my Samuel commentaries, but done less with Kings. This one on 1 Kings is my preferred of the three I currently own. As with all WBC volumes, there is a large emphasis on technical details- form, structure, vocabulary, etc. and less on theological interpretation.
2 Kings. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1985.
Reliable commentary which still stands up over 30 years later. A tad dry, given the drama of the text itself, but trustworthy interpretation.
The First Epistle to the Corinthians. BNTC. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.
An important and influential commentary. Fee once dubbed it the best available commentary on 1 Corinthians. Fee's own work has surpassed this one, as have a few who followed Fee (Hays, Thiselton). But Barrett's contributions in the Black's series are still important in the history of interpretation of 1 & 2 Corinthians.
The Epistles of John. AYB. Yale University Press, 1982.
A must have; the most comprehensive, insightful, profound commentary on 1-3 John, by *THE* leading expert in the Johannine corpus in the 20th century. This should be required reading for study of the Epistles of John. Brown covers all the bases; lexicography, intertextuality, historical background, theological interpretation, textual criticism, etc.
The Gospel of Matthew. SP. Liturgical Press, 1991.
Written by a Jesuit scholar, provides a Jewish perspective of the text- reading the text alongside Jewish theological perspectives, socio-rhetorical elements, and the immediate historical context of 1st century Judea. Given it's page count, it is surprisingly in-depth, and overall very successful.
I, II, and III John. NTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.
I would highly recommend this one, even ahead of other commentaries more often held up as the standard. Lieu may disagree with some of the more touted commentaries esp. her work on hilasmos in 2:2 and 4:10 which she argues means forgiveness rather than propitiation (e.g. Marshall and Witherington) or even expiation (e.g. Thompson). I believe she is on solid ground on this, though the language of expiation is perhaps preferable. She is largely skeptical about connections between 1 John and the Gospel According to John, and also the tradition that 1 John is responding to early gnostic influences. This does run counter to other commentators, but her careful analysis does show that perhaps those conclusions have gone beyond the evidence. Her approach may be a bit more critical than some are comfortable with, but she demonstrates a careful analysis of the text, and a strong concern for allowing the text to speak on it's own terms.
1 Peter. BECNT. Baker Academic, 2005.
While I think very highly of Jobes, and this is a good commentary, I think it's a bit overrated, mainly because I find the BECNT format to be unhelpful, especially in this volume. I would rank it third among my 1 Peter commentaries, behind Marshall and Davids. That said, it's worth having, and is more current than other options.
The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians. NICNT. Eerdmans, 2009.
Good, but after his outstanding commentaries in this series on 1 Cor. and Philippians, the bar was high, and this isn't at that level, so it felt like a let down. But, it is still a good commentary, which I'd probably place second on my list, behind Bruce.
Acts. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1980.
There are many academics who I've found to be awkward and clumsy when writing lay level commentaries. I. Howard Marshall however, seems to flourish at it. Most pastors I know own, and regularly use this volume. Worth having in your collection.
1 & 2 Thessalonians. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 2003.
Obviously this won't cover everything there is to cover (for that, consult Bruce's WBC), but this is solid value for money and page count. Pastors, lay readers, and students can get lots from this one without spending more money and going with a more in depth commentary. Beale covers the difficult eschatalogical content well.
Colossians & Philemon. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1993.
If all you need/want is a general introduction to Colossians this will do, but it's not going to give you anything you can't get elsewhere in other intro or pastoral commentaries. The Philemon section is pretty underwhelming. Garland's NIVAC or Bird's NCCS would be a better option if you want a non-technical commentary.
Galatians. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1994.
I tend to disagree with Hansen on some minor contextual and exegtical stuff, but this still holds up as a decent intro commentary. I'd recommend this one ahead of other options directed at a more general audience.
1 Corinthians. BECNT. Baker Academic, 2003.
I'm not a huge fan of the BECNT format, but I do generally appreciate Garland's commentary writing. This and his 2 Cor (NAC) and his best work, I think. This is not my favourite on 1 Cor (I prefer Fee, Hays, and Thiselton), but this is still very good, with more depth than most commentaries geared towards pastors. If you have to pick just one 1 Cor. commentary, pick Fee, but if you can expand your collection, this is certainly worth having.
Lamentations. THOTC. Eerdmans, 2010.
Commentaries on Lamentations by itself are few. But I thankful that the editors of THOTC decided not to tack Lamentations onto a Jeremiah volume and allow Lamentations to be explored. Parry does a great job with this one. I quite like the Two Horizons approach, especially for books like Lamentations where unpacking issues raised by the text would bog down the exposition or require frequent excursuses. Parry is a great critical thinker, and capable theologian and exegete who, I think, is highly underrated (perhaps because of evangelical aversions to his universalism).
Jeremiah, Lamentations. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2002.
A bit thin, but for most readers, this will prove a useful tool on Jeremiah. Lamentations isn't given as much attention as one would hope for- almost feels like a throwaway or appendix to Jeremiah.
I and II Chronicles. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 1993.
As someone who hasn't done much work in Chronicles, my collection of commentaries on Chronicles is not surprisingly not extensive. It's basically the volume from the Keil and Delitzsch series and this one. But Japhet's commentary has never disappointed in the handful of times I've consulted it.
Deuteronomy. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 1966.
Meh. These older volumes in the OTL by German text critical scholars or scholars following that school have a really limited usefulness. No commentary on Deut. should be this thin.
2 Peter and Jude. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1983.
The best option on a pair of texts which get less attention. Bauckham's expertise in Jewish and Christian apocalyptic and eschatalogical texts makes him the best person I can think of to write this commentary. Even after 35 years, it's still the best.
II Corinthians. NTL. Presbyterian Publishing, 2003.
Probably my favourite commentary on 2 Cor (the main challenger being Garland's NAC). The NTL is more technical, so Matera provides greater detail. This one isn't as well known, especially among evangelicals (Matera is Roman Catholic), but deserves more attention that it gets.
2 Corinthians. NAC. Broadman & Holman, 1999.
For non-Greek users, this is probably the best option available. This series is specifically geared towards pastors, so the text is handled in preachable sized chunks, with specific attention to theological meaning of the text without getting into detailed analysis of the Greek text.
Romans. 2 Vols. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1988.
I'm a little surprised this isn't higher up in the rankings, given the influence of Dunn's work on Romans. Sure, the WBC formatting isn't great, we all know that. But Dunn's work is so influential in Pauline studies, it's hard to believe he wouldn't be further up than this. I'd argue Dunn is essential for the study of Paul in general and Romans specifically. So much so that even if you disagree with the NPP, you can't really deny the quality of Dunn's work here.
The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. SRC. Eerdmans, 2009.
A solid commentary, with a specific purpose, so not as relevant and useful for certain discussions as it is for others.
Isaiah. UBOT. Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.
No commentary on Isaiah will cover everything without moving into multiple volumes (consider that Goldingay has written multiple a mutli-volume commentary on ch. 40-55 alone). But, for a single volume, intro level commentary, this is really good.
“Malachi” in Minor Prophets II. UBOT. Hendrickson Publishers, 2009.
As far as intro level commentaries go, this is right up there. It's not perfectly balanced, as some parts get brushed over quickly while others get considerably more detail. But overall, a handy option for nailing down the basics and understanding the main thrust and background of the second half of the book of twelve.
Nahum-Malachi. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1988.
A concise, non-technical commentary, from an expert in OT prophetic texts. Engaging but sometimes comments on large units without comments on specific features of the text.
The Gospel of Luke. SP. Liturgical Press, 2006.
Surprisingly compact. Considering the length of other Luke commentaries, the fact that this is as good as it is with such a small page count is a welcome surprise. Obviously it isn't comprehensive, but what was dropped, compared to other commentaries, is the commentary on commentaries. In other words, Johnson does not get bogged down in responding to every commentary on Luke. The textual details cover the important features and leave aside the speculations. While the interpretation is a bit briefer than I may have wanted, Johnson is still able to provide reliable, useful conclusions. I find the Sacra Pagina series to be a helpful approach, and it's format engaging and accessible. It won't give you what Fitzmyer does, but if you don't want to sift through details, and want to get to the vital stuff, Johnson is the best short commentary I own.
The Gospel according to Luke. 2 Vols. AYB. Yale University Press, 1985.
I don't always agree with Fitzmyer on issues of date, setting, redactions, sources, etc., but it would of course be a huge mistake to not take him seriously, as an expert in the Jewish and Christian writings of the period. This Luke commentary set the tone for the study of Luke-Acts for the following decades, and much of the field is done in reference to Fitzmyer's work. The textual notes are full of a dizzying amount of citations and source connections related to vocabulary, rhetoric, theological connections, etc. The introduction is about as comprehensive as one can be (perhaps the greatest strength of the AYB compared to any other series is the depth of the introductions). Certainly a must have resource.
Micah–Malachi. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1984.
A bit too brief given the depth of detail of other volumes in this series, and the amount of text being covered (by comparison, Stuart's volume in this series on Hos-Jonah is about 200 pages longer).
The Book of Zechariah. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2016.
Full disclosure: Mark Boda was one of my seminary instructors. That said, this is an objectively good commentary, though perhaps a bit too large for the series (only slightly shorter than the NICOT volume on the Psalms). Boda leaves no stone unturned, covering all the various readings and theories surrounding the tricky aspects of authorship and unity of the text, as well as historical setting and relationship to other post-exilic texts. This will likely become the standard Zechariah commentary moving forward.
The Books of Haggai and Malachi. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2018.
While I applaud the NICOT editors for updating a few older volumes in the series, I am a little surprised to see this one come out while so many of the Old Testament books have not been covered yet. That said, this commentary is exceptional, and cuts new ground on two often overlooked books of the Old Testament, and goes beyond the analysis of of the texts to how propehtic texts relate to contemporary church and society.
The Acts of the Apostles. Eerdmans, 2016.
Originally published in 1996 by Epworth, and re-released as a stand alone, this is a non-technical, expository commentary, which doesn't wade into commenting on commentaries, as some often do (in fact, there is basically no interaction with secondary sources). This commentary succeeds in its purpose of expounding the text in an accessible way for a broad audience.
The Book of Acts. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1954.
Faithful, reliable, preacher friendly expository commentary by one of evangelicalism's most trusted names.
The Acts of the Apostles. AYB. Yale University Press, 1998.
This volume and Ben Witherington's SRC are the best resources for in depth analysis of Acts. It's somewhat unfair to compare it to the more often used volumes (by preachers at least) by Bruce and Marshall, which are expository commentaries written for preachers. The AYB's purpose of providing a detailed analysis of the Greek text, with theological interpretation which pays close attention to intertextuality (biblical and non-biblical), historical context/setting, etc. is capture extremely well in this volume, which is among the best in the series. I'd recommend this one ahead of Bruce or Marshall.
The Epistle to the Hebrews. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 1993.
A beast of a commentary. Though I find the technical details of linguistics overshadow the interpretation, it's hard to fault the author, since that is a major focus of the series. This commentary is specifically authored for a scholarly audience. It does what it is intended to do extremely well. The introduction is outstanding, and doesn't overreach what can be understood about authorship, date, recipients, etc. But does weigh in on what is the best of the options available. With Hebrews, this level of caution is definitely best.
Hebrews. AYB. Yale University Press, 2001.
Currently my number 2 choice on Hebrews, behind Luke Timothy Johnson (NTL). Koester provides a very detailed intro covering history of interpretation and canonical discussions, as well as the various possibilities regarding authorship, recipients' setting, and date. The textual comments cover intertextual pieces, and non-biblical uses of various features and vocabulary carefully. The AYB series has improved considerably over the years, and have become more balanced, provide more useful exposition along with critical examination of the text. This one is not ground-breaking, but solid and reliable.
John. NTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.
Exceptional in every respect. An incredible talent in Johannine studies, Thompson deserves so much credit for her work, and years of research which comes together to present what I suspect will become a classic, essential reading on John for years to come. This is what a great commentary should be. More than sufficiently detailed, with excursuses providing further reading for those looking to dive into broader discussions of themes coming out of the text. Although the intro is short, Thompson states her desire to not rehash the established points of discussion, and provides plenty of references to other sources.
Psalms 101–150 (Rev. ed.). WBC. Thomas Nelson, 2002.
Leslie Allen is a remarkably talented commentary writer. The set of three volumes in the WBC was started by Craigie, but when complete had 3 different authors. Personally, I think this volume is better than Craigie's volume on Psalms 1-50, though not as good as Goldingay's BCOTWP 3 volume set, even though I prefer Allen's translation to Goldingay's. Some of the WBC voumes spend too much time on minor details, but this one doesn't, though like all WBC volumes, the formatting (font, citation style, and structure) takes away from the overall impact. Nevertheless, this is still worthwhile for pastors, upper-level students, and scholars. Not for the average reader, as it is an advanced, technical commentary series.
The Book of Psalms. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2014.
I was skeptical of this before purchasing. Sometimes multi-author volumes can be unbalanced, and a single volume commentary on the Psalms with sufficient detail seems like a difficult task. But this volume pulls it off. The authors' translations are excellent, and draw out the evocative sense of the Psalms which is lost in some English translations. The commentary itself may not be comprehensive, and doesn't spend much on technical analysis, but provides plenty of interpretive insights. I've rarely been disappointed by NICOT- a great series for preachers and seminarians/bible college students. This volume doesn't require knowledge of Hebrew, with Hebrew words transliterated.
The Gospel of Mark. SP. Liturgical Press, 2002.
An outstanding, succinct, semi-technical commentary, focused on interpretation of the text itself, though still sensitive to historical and intertextual elements. Though Catholic in perspective, this commentary series is certainly worthwhile for a much broader audience.
1 Peter. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1988.
A good option for a thorough, technical commentary. I prefer Davids, Marshall, and Jobes ahead of this one, mainly because of user-friendliness. But because WBC is a more technical series, this has far more linguistic detail.
Esther. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1999.
This is the only commentary I own on Esther at the moment. But this is a solid example of what a mid-level, pastoral commentary should look like. It is not only written with expertise of the subject (Jobes did her doctoral research on the Greek text of Esther) but is done in a way which is engaging, challenging, and fun even (and how often do you get to say that about a commentary?). The introduction is not just a revisiting of the usual intro topics (date/structure/canonicity etc - though Jobes covers all of these very capably) but an exercise in hermeneutics and the doctrine of Scripture. The uniqueness of Esther presents key theological questions which Jobes brings to the fore. How is a text which doesn't mention God, the Law, Temple, worship, etc. to be understood as holy scripture? What can we say about inspiration and authority from a text like this? Throughout, Jobes is able to capture the artistry of the text and all the subtle plays which make Esther so potent.
The Book of Judges. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2012.
Other than a real serious misreading of the Deborah narrative, this is a very, very good commentary. Webb tries to downplay the obvious in the Deborah cycle, and upholds a complementarian view of gender by making Deborah less of an authority figure in Israel than the text presents, and even brings in the notion of the eternal subordination of the Son to make Deborah's authority a mere bi-product of Barak's failure to fulfill his role. But Webb's analysis of the Samson narrative in particular is very, very good. The formatting of NICOT is one I really appreciate, and the commitment to both detail and accessibility makes this series a really praiseworthy achievement. Webb provides a thoroughly engaged scholarly exegesis of the text, but manages to maintain a good, readable flow by keeping most of the technical data in the footnotes for interested readers.
Joshua. THOTC. Eerdmans, 2010.
The theological essays in the second section were, I thought, more helpful than the exposition of the text, which didn't get into much detail. But the essay dealing with the violence of Joshua is an honest and helpful wrestling with a difficult text. The authors do not shy away from the difficulties, and even though the answers they come to may not satisfy all people wrestling with Joshua, but it does lay out the issues well and holds up the text as Scripture.
Numbers. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1984.
Not as good as Ashley's NICOT volume in my opinion, but still a good commentary, which spends more time on critical issues Ashley, but sometimes gets a little distracted from doing interpretation. Also, the WBC format is less accessible that NICOT. But, for a scholarly, critical commentary, I do like this one.
A Commentary on the Revelation of John. Eerdmans, 1972.
A tad out of date now, and preoccupied with defending a historic premillenial dispensationalist reading, but still a worthwhile read. His work on Chapters 4 & 5 are particularly helpful, without being bogged down in the minute details. He gets the key points and doesn't get sidetracked with the rest. For it's age and size, it's still a helpful resource. Very accessible, and well composed.
The First Epistle of Peter. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1990.
A great mid-level commentary. I would have liked a few more details on the Greek text, but this is a reliable, succinct, and reader-friendly volume. Ideal for pastors and seminarians. Davids is thoroughly engaged with secondary sources, and critical scholarship, but does still defend traditional, conservative conclusions regarding date and authorship.
Paul's Letter to the Philippians. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1995.
Among the best NT commentaries ever written, Fee has achieved an amazing balance in this volume between scholarly rigour, and passionate appreciation for the spiritual potency of the text. This volume is a must for preachers and students, and, along with his 1 Cor. commentary in the same series exemplify everything a good commentary should be; scholarly without being detached, detailed but still accessible, sensitive to historical context and the contemporary application. On the list of must have commentaries, this is near the top.
The Revelation to John. InterVarsity Press, 2005.
On most fronts, I think this is possibly the best evangelical commentary on the Greek text. That said, Smalley is slightly behind Beale with respect to the introduction, and I think Smalley's argument for an earlier date (he argues for a date immediately before or after the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD) is not compelling. I think a mid-90s date is better myself. But otherwise, Smalley is outstanding.
The Book of Revelation. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 1998.
A beast of a commentary. Sometimes spends a ton of time on small issues, while glossing over others (like 3 page excursus on biblion and only a paragraph on entire verses which have significant theological implications). But in terms of firmly anchoring Revelation in the OT tradition rather than pagan sources (contra Aune), Beale is thorough, and well presented. Arguably, this is the best technical commentary from a conservative evangelical perspective.
Revelation. 3 Vols. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1997.
Sometimes overwhelming in attention to minute details, and interested far too much on linking Revelation to other historical sources, and so misses theological interpretation. But for reading Revelation historically, Aune is an essential.
The Book of Revelation. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1997.
A little scant on detail, but avoids the speculation on minute details which we see in Beale and Aune.
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1997.
A good option, but not without a few flaws. Some stuff which could be moved to the footnotes is part of the main body. I'm not sold on his exegesis of 2 Cor. 5:14ff. But overall a worthy addition to a great series.
The First Epistle to the Corinthians. NICNT. Eerdmans, 2014.
Absolutely outstanding in every way. This really is the yardstick for what a commentary should be. Fee is able to balance thorough, academic/critical rigor with relevance for preaching and application.
The Book of Numbers. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1993.
This is my first choice on Numbers. The only issue I have is the lack of detail in the introduction. He does point to other sources for discussion of textual criticism issues in the footnotes, one would hope for a little more here.
The Letter to Philemon. AYB. Yale University Press, 2000.
Philemon is so often treated as an appendix to Colossians, and gets a few dozen pages at the back of another commentary which focuses much more attention and space to Colossians (obviously Colossians will require more pages given the difference in length, but I find many Philemon commentaries treat it as less important). The Anchor Bible editors made the welcome, but bold choice to have a separate volume dedicated to Philemon, and should be applauded for allowing this potent little letter to be handled well, and given full attention by a gifted scholar. Fitzmyer has published in the AB series several times, and so is able to work well in a format which isn't as user friendly as some others, so in this case the layout doesn't become distracting. The detailed intro gives a solid overview of the history of interpretation and the difficulties of reconstructing the situation the letter is addressing. Although AB is a more critical and academic series, this volume is still relevant for pastors. Most of the difficult issues of the historical situation is in the intro, so Fitzmyer's exegesis of the text doesn't get sidetracked. At just over 120 pages (before indexes) it feels like the right length for an in depth, but still usable treatment. Highly recommended.
Ruth. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.
High on brevity and sensitivity to narrative forms and subtle theology of the Book of Ruth.
Judges, Ruth. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2002.
I haven't used the Judges section much, but the Ruth section is pretty good. It's a bit too much of a face value reading, missing many of the narrative artistry and nuance.
The Book of Deuteronomy. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1976.
My preferred commentary on Deuteronomy. The NICOT series is commendable for being both scholarly and accessible. Craigie has done a fine job of producing a commentary which works is useful for a variety of users. He is aware of and sensitive to the ancient near eastern context without being bogged down in the minute details of comparative reading.
Genesis, Second Edition. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009.
A decent lay-level commentary. Some parts are handled better than others. The later chapters feel a bit rushed, and there are some shortcomings in ch. 2-3.
Jonah. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 1993.
A great resource. Brevity, insight, relevance, and scholarship in one place. May not satisfy some more conservative folks (understands Jonah as more didactic than historical) but I certainly recommend it.
Hosea–Jonah. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1987.
Slightly unbalanced, as it provides far more detail and thoroughness on Hosea and Jonah than on Joel. Still and very good commentary, which I would certainly recommend for seminary students, scholars, and pastors.
The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1976.
A solid, reliable, and readable commentary. Less focused on linguistics and textual criticism, but focused on exegesis of the text as it stands, so very much focused at pastors and teachers.
John. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1999.
It's ok, and gets lots right. But when it comes to more popular level works on John, Bruce is just as succinct, but far more useful.
Luke. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1995.
Given the fact that Bock has written multiple commentaries on Luke at differing levels of depth, I'm not sure this one was needed. Covering Luke in detail requires either a large page count, or a really brilliant and effective condensing. This one isn't that. It's just too sparse to be effective.
Mark. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 2007.
Gets the essentials right, but with the brevity of the series, much is left out. Some volumes in the IVPNTC do a better job of making the most of a condensed page count, but this volume just doesn't cover enough ground to be incredibly useful.
Ephesians. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1997.
A good little intro commentary for pastors, lay leaders, and undergraduate theology students. Some might not like Liefeld's egalitarian reading of Ephesians 5, but even with the brevity of the IVPNTC, Liefeld manages to cover a lot of ground on that front. He manages to avoid long excurses into complex issues of authorship, textual criticism and textual variants, etc. A good resource for laity and pastors to bring sound exegesis to a practical, person-in-the-pew level.
The Epistle to the Romans. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 2016.
I suspect this one will (or at least it should) overtake Moo's NICNT volume for top spot on Romans. This volume is a must, and is already my preferred first choice on Romans. Sensitive to both traditional protestant readings of Paul and the New Perspective, Longenecker balances these, and critiques both with charity and clarity. He also adds some important implications and contextualization comments which are not usually part of the NIGTC format. So this is a highly academic, technical commentary, working from the Greek text, but also one which provides pastoral aspects and wonderful ideas for Pastors to incorporate into sermons, making this commentary relevant for scholars, students, and pastors.
Matthew. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1993.
Good on parables, but less so on the rest of the text. The introduction is sparse, and not entirely helpful.
Proverbs. BCOT. Baker Academic, 2006.
My first choice on Proverbs. Longman's expertise in the Wisdom literature continues to shine in this volume (as well as his volume on Job in this series, and the series as a whole of which he is the general editor). The intro is thorough, and accessible, laying out the important details without being bogged down with the secondary literature. The translation and exegesis is reliable, and helpful, with great help for pastors to present application of the text.
“Nahum” in Minor Prophets II. UBOT. Hendrickson Publishers, 2009.
Veteran OT scholar, and expert in the prophetic literature, John Goldingay, has produced a solid popular level commentary on Nahum. It is great for what it is. It isn't designed to be comprehensive, but still comes up a tad sparse on details. That said, it's still a fine resource.
Job. 3 Vols. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 2009.
An outstandingly comprehensive introduction to the Book of Job and exegesis of ch. 1-20. The only issue I have with this volume is the Word biblical commentary format, which isn't user friendly at the best of times. In this case pages and pages of bibliography (even more than many other volumes in the series) interspersed throughout instead at the end of the book gets in the way. Parenthetical notations instead of footnotes makes finding the great stuff which is there difficult underneath the citations and data which should be in footnotes.
Job. BCOT. Baker Academic, 2012.
The entire BCOTWP series is a highly commendable collection of upper mid-level commentaries, targeted at pastors, and upper level students. Tremper Longman is series editor and wrote this volume on Job and the volume on Proverbs. Based on the authors' own translation, the BCOTWP series provides some technical/linguistic data, but focuses primarily on exegesis of the text in its final form, and then provides a "theological implications" component at the end of each section. Longman's translation of Job is fresh, idiomatic, and captures the poetic nature of Job, but is also compatible with other common translations. His exegesis is succinct, and introduction substantial, covering the difficult questions of genre, historicity, historical and literary context and some comments on New Testament implications. Longman is respected across the spectrum of protestant scholarship, able to be appreciated by most. And this commentary, and the series he has brought together is highly valuable, and useful tool. [Full Review]
1 Corinthians. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1995.
I wasn't thrilled with this one. Blomberg's work in the Gospels is solid and reliable, but this volume is not up to that standard. Perhaps it's simply because of the NIVAC format which some authors can work very with, while other scholars who typically produce top notch material can seem to struggle. The "original meaning" sections come up short on content. Given all the complexities of 1 Cor., more detail is needed. Sometimes brevity works, but in this case it doesn't.
Philippians (Rev. ed.). WBC. Thomas Nelson, 2004.
The big drawback is that this volume was revised by Martin, making it a tad unbalanced. Martin's extensive work on Philippians is brought to Hawthorne's work, and sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. Martin's translation choices differ from other scholars, which is sometimes advantageous, other times it just muddies the waters a bit. And of course, the WBC format is problematic. But overall, this is a solid, trustworthy commentary. If you can get beyond the relatively superficial flaws, the content is very, very good, capturing the flow of the whole letter well, avoiding the common problems with some commentaries of chunking the text and not catching the big picture.
Hebrews. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1992.
Scant, thin, shallow- even for an intro level commentary. Probably the weakest in the series.
Exodus. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1987.
A very good technical commentary. The introduction is very strong, framing the themes, theology, structure, and history of the text. The commentary itself is meticulous, reliable, and focused both on the technical aspect, but still offers a relevant, applicable exposition of the text.
Genesis. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2001.
With an expertise in ancient near eastern literature and mythology, Walton brings a considerable expertise to the text of Genesis to unpack how an ancient audience would hear the text, and to elaborate the purpose of the book in confronting ancient near eastern pagan worldview(s). The one flaw with this commentary is of course the amount of space given to chapters 1-3 compared to the rest of the text of Genesis. But this is a very good, solidly academic, evangelical, expertly composed, relevant, and accessible commentary.
The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1984.
Not Bruce's finest work. But Bruce at less than his best is still reliable. I'm not too sad to see McKnight and Cohick breaking up the three epistles into separate volumes. This volume is good, but I think Joel Green made the right call to have this volume replaced. It moved the conversation forward at the time of its publication, but much more can be done. This volume is far less comprehensive than others in the series, in part because all three epistles are being covered in too little space.
Epistle to the Ephesians. BNTC. Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.
An interesting take on Ephesians- that it is text pieced together by a post-pauline follower using Pauline material. Overall I do like this one. It's easier to use, and even if one is not sold on his conclusion, it cannot be said Muddiman hasn't been honest, charitable, and thorough in his engagement with folks on all sides of the contentious issues which come up in dealing with Ephesians (authorship, place of origin, audience, household code material, vocabulary).
The Letter to the Ephesians [Plagiarism Acknowledged]. PNTC. Eerdmans, 1999.
I was rather disappointed in this one. It's too one dimensional, lacking engagement with other perspectives. I had hoped for a lot more from O'Brien, especially having worked with his Philippians (NIGTC) and Colossians/Philemon (WBC) commentaries.
The Epistles of John: Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. Eerdmans, 1979.
A great little non-technical commentary. Very helpful for any pastor preaching on these texts. Designed to go in tandem with his commentary on the Gospel of John, which is also a great resource for pastors and lay leaders. It features Bruce's own translation and an exposition of the meaning of the text. Does not give any in depth analysis of the linguistic features, but it serves its designed purpose very, very well.
The Epistles of John. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1978.
I. Howard Marshall is always someone you can count on to produce a top-notch commentary. This one on the Johannine Epistles is a fine example of commentary which is useful on all sorts of levels. The NICNT format allows for in depth scholarly research to be presented, but not in a way which bogs down the commentary for pastors and lay readers. Much of the technical data is moved to footnotes (unlike the WBC for example) making the body smooth, and effective. Though almost 40 years old now, this is still among the best available commentaries on the Johannine epistles.
1, 2, and 3 John (Rev. ed.). WBC. Zondervan Academic, 2008.
Smalley and Marshall are my top 2 for more in depth study. Bruce and Thompson are both great for intro commentaries. Smalley is the more exhaustive and technical as well as being more up to date in interacting with secondary authors since it was revised. The Word format is not exactly user friendly, but this one suffers from the weaknesses of the format less than other volumes. I would certainly recommend this one for anyone who has the time, desire and ability to work from the Greek text.
The Epistle to the Romans. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1996.
For a traditional reformed reading of Paul and specifically Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Moo is often cited as the standard bearer. On many fronts I do really like this commentary. On a few fronts though, I really don't (perhaps bc I am not part of the reformed evangelical camp). I don't think his responses to the NPP are sufficient (though I am glad he does engage with Dunn, Sanders, etc.). His comments on the female leaders section in ch. 16 are unconvincing. But overall it is a commentary worth having and consulting regularly.
Osborne, Grant R. ed. Acts. IVPNTC. IVP Academic, 1995.
It's good for what it is; an intro level non technical commentary. Because of the scope of the series, an awful lot has to be left out. But for a bible study leader or pastor with time constraints, it'll serve its purpose well.
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. NAC. Broadman & Holman, 1993.
This rating is for the Song of Songs portion, as I haven't done enough with Proverbs to rate it, and haven't looked at the Eccl. section at all yet. On SoS, Garrett is, in my opinion, far too brief. His introduction has some minimal responses to arguments for a later date of composition. The commentary itself is ok, but I'd go with Hess on SoS (BCOTWP) over this.
Song of Songs. BCOT. Baker Academic, 2005.
I have been thoroughly impressed by the BCOTWP series. Hess does a great job of covering the text of SoS as a piece of romantic poetry, but is also able to work out many important theological implications from the text. Hess is very strong on Ancient Near Eastern literature, and is able to bring in comparisons at key moments, with the commentary devolving into nothing more than an exercise in comparitive literature. The parallels with Egyptian poetry, and contrats with Sumerian, Hittite, etc. poetry demonstrates the focus of the text as beautiful depiction of the two lovers wooing and taking delight in each other, in a gentle, mutual, covenantal love. I would highly recommend this to pastors, seminarians, and lay leaders. [Full Review]
Job. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2012.
Walton's expertise with ANE literature makes his an ideal contributor for the NIVAC series on Job. The complexities of this text's origins, relation to other similar literature, and its place in the canon make Job a book where tangents become tempting, and for the average church-goer much of that background is unknown. Walton is able to provide the necessary contextual elements to make the original meaning and purpose of the text clear, without getting bogged down and setting aside the goals of the NIVAC. This is an outstanding option for pastors and folks leading bible studies. Of all the OT volumes of the NIVAC I own, this may be my favourite (alongside Exodus by Peter Enns).
Psalms. 3 Vols. BCOT. Baker Academic, 2008.
The only commentary on the Psalms you need. Highly scholarly, but still accessible to a broader audience, Goldingay shows once again his abilities to be both academic and pastorally sensitive. The whole set is a must have.
1 & 2 Timothy & Titus. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1994.
Obviously not as thorough and technical as Towner's more recent PE commentary (NICNT) but still an excellent resource. Targeted at lay leaders, pastors, students, this is a good non-technical option. This is among the best volumes in this series, and a great option.
The Letters to Timothy and Titus. NICNT. Eerdmans, 2006.
Written from a firmly evangelical perspective, affirming Pauline authorship. This commentary is thorough, interacting fairly and charitably with other secondary material. Some may be unhappy with Towner's egalitarian leanings expressed in his exegesis of 1 Tim. 2 and elsewhere (personally I favour this view, though I might nuance my reading a bit differently than Towner does), but it cannot be argued he isn't thorough, or firmly based exegesis of the text as inspired. This is at the upper end of the semi-technical category, so to used to its fullest extent, some formal theological education is needed. But for Pastors and scholars, this is definitely one to have.
Daniel. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1999.
Longman defends an older, 6th century date of composition (contra Goldingay). I am inclined to side with Goldingay. Longman, writing after Goldingay, interacts frequently with Goldingay, disagreeing, but doing so with considerable respect, and even admiration. Longman is not at all dogmatic in his insistence on a 6th century dating, but does feel it necessary because of his understanding of the genre of Daniel, and written to predict events well in advance. But if Daniel's latter chapters are taken as apocalyptic interpretation of events in process during the time of composition, things look very different. Longman is an accomplished scholar. He takes a stand and sticks to it. I can respect that. His exegesis is consistent, and, as is the goal of NIVAC, makes the text more easily preached. Having both Goldingay and Longman (and hopefully we'll see Wooden's volume soon) together is probably a healthy combo.
Daniel. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1989.
Goldingay is an erudite, and accomplished scholar and commentary writer (his 3 vols on Psalms is the only commentary on Psalms you will ever need). This volume on Daniel is worthy of pride of place on Pastors' and scholars' shelves. I usually don't like to get into speculation regarding dates of biblical texts, since it's just that- speculation. But in the case of Daniel, it does have a significant impact. I am inclined to agree with Goldingay that Daniel is a composition of the 2nd century BC, which sets events in the 6th. Chapter 8 epsecially makes far more sense when read from this vantage point. The late date assertion will (and has) turn(ed) many readers off. Nevertheless, my own humble opinion is that Goldingay is correct on that way, and his unpacking of the text in light of that makes a murky and difficult text far more comprehensible.
Luke. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1996.
Bock has written much on Luke-Acts. This particular volume is more pastoral and layperson focused, so sifting out much of the technical stuff and boiling down to key themes and teaching points. I found this very helpful on the parables, but less so on the other portions. Given the immense size and depth of content in Luke's account, a one volume commentary under 700 pages is obviously going to have to leave much unsaid that could be said. But it does what it intends to do more than adequately.
The Gospel of Mark. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1974.
Reliable, and well-known. However, I found it a bit lacking in detail, and also, no 40 years old, it's dated. Worth having since it is so widely used, but personally, I would commend RT France's NIGTC ahead of this.
Romans. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1986.
A bit disappointing. Lacks depth and simply restates the usual protestant line on Romans.
Galatians - Paul's Charter of Christian Freedom. InterVarsity Press, 2003.
Disappointing. It's not designed to be comprehensive, but it's still lacking detail. I don't share some of Morris' convictions, and didn't expect to agree with him, but Morris doesn't do much interaction with other views, almost completely ignoring the NPP. There isn't anything in this commentary one can't get elsewhere in a more thorough volume.
The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. SRC. Eerdmans, 1997.
This volume has taken over from Bruce as my first choice on Acts. While it isn't by any means exhaustive, and it is specific in its intent, it does still provide important exegetical insights as well as the focused examination of social/historical context and rhetorical style. Definitely a great resource.
The Epistles to the Thessalonians. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 1990.
The thesis that 2 Thess preceded 1 Thess is novel, but unconvincing. There are few points of disagreement for me, but for the most part I think this is a great commentary- a solid second choice behind Bruce.
1 and 2 Thessalonians. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1982.
This should be the first choice on Thessalonians. In 30+ years it hasn't been surpassed by anything I've seen. Bruce is reliable and respected by folks from various perspective within the evangelical spectrum, so his voice is always worth hearing. He handles difficult eschatalogical notions presented by Paul well, and while he doesn't bring a tsunami of contextual bits, he brings enough to demonstrate how a first century audience would hear the text Paul has penned. For a WBC volume, it is surprisingly compact and user friendly. The format of WBC is sometimes a distraction, and can make finding what you're looking for more difficult, but Bruce flourishes within the structure instead of being held back by the structure (the volumes on Eph. and Philippians are examples of format being a bit of a hinderance). This is an academic commentary, but is still a pastor friendly tool.
The First Book of Samuel. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2007.
This volume focuses much of its energy on linguistic structures (Tsumura is primarily an expert in biblical languages), and less on literary art and narrative devices. It does well what it is attempting to do. On it's own, it's less helpful, but in conjunction with a more theological focused (like Bergen) and narrative drama focused (like Brueggemann) commentary, this provides a helpful picture of all aspects of the book.
Genesis: A Commentary. Zondervan Academic, 2001.
I am not a fan of the structure of this one. Most of the content is fine, but it is hard to find what one is looking for. Also a tad light on detail.
Deuteronomy. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2012.
Good for what it is. It's by no means comprehensive (the NIVAC series is of course not meant to be) but worth having for preachers and bible study or Sunday School teachers. Hits the important points but gives no linguistic or textual criticism detail. It does what it's supposed to do.
Genesis. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1986.
I do really love Brueggemann. And the content of this commentary is very solid, but the formatting is less than ideal, making it hard to find the comments on a specific item or phrase without reading the whole section. His commentary in the same series on 1 & 2 Sam. is a must have. This is helpful, worth having, but not exactly a must.
Galatians. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1990.
Longenecker's Galatians is a great technical volume to have at one's fingertips. He is thorough (sometimes perhaps a tad too much for us pastors trying to get to the meaning within the details). He presents a balanced, and moderate view, handling the tricky aspects (date, recipients' location, as well as the difficult translation and exegetical problems of pistis christou, ergon nomou, and the curse in 3:13 among others). I tend to agree with Longenecker in reading pistis christou as a subjective genitive, but with Longenecker note the eis christon makes justification participatory, requiring human response. Longenecker works into his commentary elements of the New Perspective, while retaining many more traditional protestant readings. Certainly a commendable and top rate commentary. Pairs nicely with Bruce to get slightly varied perspective both withing a moderate evangelical perspective.
The Epistle to the Galatians. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 1982.
This is classic F.F. Bruce. It is reliable exegesis and linguistic analysis from a scholar trusted by seemingly everyone under the broad umbrella of evangelicalism (and probably even most outside that umbrella too!). The only drawback is its publication date. Because it was published as the New Perspective was only embryonic, Bruce interacts with NPP ideas in only a few places and not in great detail. He takes a fairly traditional route on many of the tricky bits in Galatians- a South Galatia location, and early date, an objective genitive reading of pistis Christou Iesou, and he takes a moderate reading of 3:13 and atonement. Bruce did however make some waves in this volume with his egalitarianism which he explores in regard to 3:28. But overall, this is an excellent volume, and with Longenecker, the best option for a technical commentary on Galatians.
The Prophecy of Isaiah. InterVarsity Press, 1998.
Writing a single volume commentary on Isaiah and doing it well is an unenviable task. Motyer has pulled it off well. He balances detail with readability well. You don't feel like he's passing over anything important, but it isn't hampered by every minute piece of data. This is a commendable volume, useful for people at varying levels of formal training (though targeted, it seems, more for those with at least some training; pastors and college or seminary students).
2 Corinthians. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1996.
The IVPNTC is designed to be strong on brevity. Sometimes the volumes suffer in their overall usefulness as a result. Not so for this one. Belleville has done a fine job producing a non-technical commentary which can be a useful tool for pastors and lay leaders. It may not have everything you'd get from other volumes, but it's very readable, and hits the important aspects well.
Colossians, Philemon. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1998.
A good, useful, pastoral level commentary. Nothing groundbreaking, but a worthwhile resource to have.
1-3 John. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1992.
By no means comprehensive, but as a non-technical commentary, it successfully does what it is designed to do. Thompson is a fairly moderate evangelical, so is able to write in such a way which will serve readers from a variety of theological positions. A good "bang for your buck" option.
I and II Peter and Jude. NTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.
A good commentary on 1 Peter. 2 Peter and Jude are not as strong. A midlevel commentary, this won't be terribly effective for the average reader, but direct more at pastors, and folks with at least some formal theological training.
The First and Second Letters to Timothy. AYB. Yale University Press, 2001.
Johnson has enough clout to buck against norm. In this one he takes a few less popular positions. Nevertheless, it is an impeccable piece of scholarship.
Fee, Gordon D. ed. The Book of Acts. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1988.
In spite of its age, this is still my stand by for Acts. It's a bit too brief on contextual background stuff. But Bruce is a trustworthy exegete, and so I have full confidence going to him on most things.
Ephesians. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1990.
Too focused on authorship issues and Ephesians relationship to Colossians. Makes sense to lay out those things in the intro, but often focuses his exegesis on proving that Ephesians is not Pauline and dependent on Colossians. Nevertheless, Lincoln has provided a solid commentary, which blends a strong focus on linguistic features with overall theological thrust.
James. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1993.
Nothing special. With 4 better options on my shelf, this one doesn't get much attention. But for those in the market for a non-technical volume, this will suit fine.
The Epistle to the Hebrews. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1996.
I have the old edition, which is quite dated. Haven't seen the revised version and how much was changed. In spite of its somewhat outdated wording, it is still a helpful resource. It is my second choice (behind L.T. Johnson). Bruce is always a trustworthy exegete, and can be counted on to provide a solid analysis.
1 Corinthians. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 2004.
A helpful non-technical option. Handles the discussion of the Lord's Supper particularly well.
The Epistle to the Galatians. BNTC. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.
a good, concise commentary which presents the NPP well. I tend to sit on the fence still on the NPP vs. traditional readings, so I do like to have both in front of me when reading Paul. I use both Dunn and McKnight for NPP on Galatians. The Black's series is a good, non-technical option for pastor's and students to get the theological thrust without getting bogged down in linguistics.
Galatians. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1995.
A good source for a balanced study of Galatians. McKnight's is comparable with Dunn's in terms of quality commentaries on Galatians from a NPP scholar. McKnight doesn't get into the incredibly complex linguistic issues in detail, but it's hard to fault him for not doing something when it's not within the scope or design of the series. But I do recommend this one (or Dunn) for the NPP interpretation of Galatians.
Revelation. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1997.
A pleasant surprise. I bought the whole set, but didn't expect much from a small introductory work on Revelation. The complex nature of that book makes me skeptical of all attempts to do a commentary like this. But Michaels does an impeccable job of making a difficult book more understandable for a broad audience.
Revelation. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2000.
I usually love Keener's work, but I found this one underwhelming.
Matthew. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1997.
Good for what it is. It's not meant to be comprehensive. Won't blow your mind, but will give you decent introductory level understanding of Matthew's Gospel. As with all of Keener's work, historical context is an important focus.
Ruth. OTL. Westminster John Knox Press, 1997.
A good, helpful commentary on short and often overlooked book. Nielsen capably handles intertextual issues, and does a fine job noting nuanced character depictions and the difficulties of sifting kinsman-redeemer traditions.
1, 2 Samuel. NAC. Broadman & Holman, 1996.
A good all around commentary. Not as finely tuned to the nuances of narrative art as Brueggemann.
Exodus. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2000.
A good first option for preaching and teaching. One shortfall is the lack of content on 34:6-7 and its importance for OT theology.
First and Second Samuel. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1990.
That this commentary is so low rated here is almost criminal. This is a brilliant piece of writing. Brueggemann comes from a less conservative position, which might put off some evangelicals. But this commentary shows the brilliance of Brueggemann. He captures the artistry of the narrative beautifully. He unveils the complexity of the characters and the mysterious divine presence throughout.
Ephesians. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1996.
This is my preferred "go to" for Ephesians, and probably the best of the NIVAC volumes I currently own. Snodgrass captures the beautiful christological content of Ephesians in all its fullness and brings out the dramatic depiction of Christ's victory and keep that in the forefront throughout. His work on chapters 1-3 is brilliant, and even draws the reader into awe and worship. When interacting with Ephesians, 5:22ff is always a difficult task to do well. Snodgrass' moderate voice is a welcome approach among so many harsh complementarian approaches. I can't say enough good things about this volume. Definitely top notch.
The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition, Notes. Eerdmans, 1994.
A good little commentary for pastors. Bruce is always dependable for a solid exegesis. This volume doesn't cover everything, but certainly captures the wonder and beauty of John's rich imagery.
The Gospel according to John. 2 Vols. AYB. Yale University Press, 1970.
This might be decades old now, but has stood the test of time. It is still unbeaten in it's depth and clarity. It provides great contextual details, guiding through the Jewish background. Brown captures the incredible richness of John's imagery wonderfully. I still consider this to have pride of place among John commentaries.
1 Peter. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1991.
This little gem is a thing of beauty. It's concise, accessible, but brings a definite richness to its exegesis. I got the whole set of the IVPNTC, and this volume is perhaps the best in the set.
Hebrews. NTL. Presbyterian Publishing, 2006.
This is my preferred commentary on Hebrews. The OTL/NTL series has a reputation for being more high criticism focused. This is true of the older volumes, but many of the more recent releases are quite good. Johnson is a scholar of the highest caliber, and this commentary is Johnson at his best. I haven't done much with Hebrews, but this commentary is definitely the first one I go to.
Philippians. IVPNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1999.
Less well known than Fee's NICNT volume. But this brief, non-technical commentary is worth having around. It is by no means comprehensive, but captures the passion and thrust of Philippians well, and frames it beautifully. A good resource to have for sermon prep when time is a factor.
Philippians. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1995.
The NIVAC presents itself as focusing on identifying the main points and examining the original context, but also bringing the meaning into the present. Some volumes succeed, others come up short. This one is certainly not one of the high points in the series. It is still a useful resource, but offers very little which can't be found elsewhere. It's a tad dry, and the introduction gives precious little detail on contextual considerations.
The Letter to the Philippians. PNTC. Eerdmans, 2009.
A very good mid-level commentary. Hansen interacts graciously with the New Perspective, even integrating a few important insights from that camp, but still affirms the traditional reformed reading of Paul. A solid resource for anyone looking for an English based commentary (uses transliteration of Greek words, and doesn't get into grammar).
The Epistle to the Philippians [Plagiarism Acknowledged]. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 1991.
I preached through Philippians in 2013, and picked up this commentary part way through, as I was wanting a more technical commentary. I was very, very happy with this choice. O'Brien's introduction is very solid, and his exegesis, while not bringing any big surprises, is very good. O'Brien doesn't interact a lot with the New Perspective, but isn't completely ignorant of it. O'Brien does of course take the more traditional reformed reading of Paul. But overall, this is a very, very good volume, worth investing in.
First Corinthians. IBC. Westminster John Knox Press, 1997.
Every commentary series has its hits and misses. Interpretation seems to have more misses than most from what I've read. I only own 6 of them, 4 of which are excellent. Hays' volume on 1 Cor. is one of those excellent volumes. In fact, I usually go to this volume first (alongside Thiselton for more detailed linguistic analysis). 1 Cor. tackles some "touchy subject matter" which requires a certain knack for wording things in a clear and concise way to speak the truth without being calloused and moralistic. Hays does that as well as any. This is a very readable commentary, accessible to well-read laity, but still detailed enough for folks with formal theological training to chew on.
Luke. NAC. Broadman & Holman, 1993.
I was in the market for a single-volume commentary on Luke and this one and Green's NICNT were both recommended. I now have both. Of the two, I'd recommend Green. The advantage for Stein is its concise nature. The NAC is designed for pastors. Less linguistic and historical detail, more focus on teaching points. I prefer the structure of Blomberg's Matthew commentary in this series (paragraph sized chunks at a time) over Stein's individual words and phrases. Stein's approach is probably better suited for a Greek based commentary. But this is a reliable resource worth having. Also more affordable than most Luke commentaries which require 2 or even 3 volumes.
Mark. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1996.
Garland is know more for his work on Paul's epistles. His Colossians commentary in this series is quite good. This commentary on Mark was less impressive. The NIVAC is not meant to be comprehensive by any stretch, but some volumes have far more detail than others. This is among those that come up a little thin for me. France and Moloney are better options, in my humble opinion.
Matthew. NAC. Broadman & Holman, 1992.
A reliable mid-level commentary from a reputable conservative evangelical scholar. A good resource for pastors.
Gospel of Mark. Baker Academic, 2012.
A delightful surprise. I picked this one up for a lenten sermon series, because it was at a very reasonable price. I was very pleased with it. It is a balanced, upper mid-level commentary (you'll need some Greek to make the most of it). Although scholarly, it is still succinct, and compact.
The Gospel of Luke. NICNT. Eerdmans, 1997.
This is where I go first. Condensing Luke into a single volume while still being comprehensive is an unenviable task. Green has capably achieved just that. I finely written, but never lacking in detail commentary, which balances scholarly rigour with pastoral relevance. If you can only choose one commentary on Luke, this really should be it.
The First Epistle to the Corinthians. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 2000.
This is a beast of a commentary. For pastors it is more detail than necessary, but for nerdy pastors like me, it is appreciated. If I could give half stars, I'd give 4 1/2, because I don't like the formatting at times. Unlike most commentary series, NIGTC does not have a consistent format for all its volumes which can be a bit annoying. Most of the newer volumes have been standardized from what I can tell (I don't have them all). But this volume, and some older ones (Galatians and James) have some odd choices with respect to formatting (citations, excurses, bolding, etc.).
The Epistle of James. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 1982.
At the time of its publication (coincedentally the same year I was born) this was a pioneering commentary in the evangelical world- a thorough, scholarly work on a much ignored biblical text. Although I disagree with Davids basic assumption about the nature of the text as a two (or more) stage work, Davids brings much to be respected and used. His analysis of liguistic connections linking seemingly unrelated (topic-wise) sections of text is very valuable for the study of the text itself. But this volume is less preacher friendly than other commentaries on James.
The Letter of James. NICNT. Eerdmans, 2011.
When preparing to preach through James I purchased this commentary from a scholar I respect and trust. He did not disappoint. McKnight brings a fresh approach to James, which, I believe should help revive James from the dustbin of protestant attention. Given the heavily pauline focused nature of so much protestant thought, and James' appearance of tension with Paul meant James' significance was downplayed. What McKnight has done in reading James on James own terms first, then in relation to the rest of the NT, is provide a new sense of relevance for this much ignored epistle. It has a robust, and fiery pastoral tone, and demonstrates a deep passion for faith lived out according the dual command of love God and love your neighbour. This renewed focus on James as commenting on Jesus teaching makes James incredibly valuable for discipleship and community building in the church. I am incredibly thankful for this volume. It became my first choice, slightly edging out Johnson (no easy task). This should (and I think will) become the evangelical standard for James commentaries.
The Letter of James. PNTC. Eerdmans, 2000.
I was surprisingly disappointed in this commentary. Given Moo's reputation, I expected much more. His introduction is lacking, failing to interact with other secondary sources, and simply making assertions with any really argumentation or interacting with other views. His exegesis is fairly predictable, seldom giving new or more detailed analysis than what can be found elsewhere. He has to do some strange things with Chapter 2 to make it fit with his own understanding of Pauline soteriology, and in my mind comes up short. But, the rest of the exegesis is fine. Nothing ground breaking, but certainly "up to snuff" for a mid-level commentary.
The Letter of James. AYB. Yale University Press, 1995.
In 2014 I preached through the book of James. I was mainly using 4 commentaries; Johnson, McKnight, Davids, and Moo. How this commentary is currently ranked below Moo is beyond me. Johnson's treatment is a very very close second for me on James (McKnight has a very slight edge). Johnson's introduction is the most thorough of any commentary I've interacted with, and capably defends the authenticity, unity and early setting of James. He covers in detail the history of the Fathers' interaction with James, and among his many contributions to Jacobean studies is the noting of commonalities to Clement. This is a fine contribution on James, deserving of a higher ranking in my opinion.
The Gospel of John: A Commentary: Two Volumes. Hendrickson Publishers, 2003.
Keener has earned his reputation as perhaps the top scholar in the area of New Testament background. This commentary demonstrates Keener's excellence on this front. It's a beast of a commentary, especially the introduction, and his interaction with John's prelude. This is well worth the investment if you want to get into contextual issues.
The Gospel of Mark. NIGTC. Eerdmans, 2002.
The NIGTC is designed for the scholar or upper level student with decent proficiency in Greek. France is absolutely a top notch scholar, but in this volume manages to make that scholarship accessible in a way some other volumes in this series don't. France depicts Mark as an accomplished story teller who has structured his Gospel account as a drama in three acts. The structure of the commentary helps draw attention to the dramatic way in which Mark builds towards a climax. I am surprised this volume has not overtaken Lane for top spot. This is the best commentary on Mark I have used.