Commentary recommendations

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[Update 27 Oct 2006: This list of commentary recommendations has just gone through another major update over the last month or so. I've added new releases and replaced some commentaries with ones I've since concluded would be better for the list in question. I've also added several alternatives for each book in the advanced commentary list rather than just the one or two I was recommending originally at that level. Also, here are some links to all the posts in this series below, which for some reason I'd never gotten around to doing. The basic level commentaries are in this post. The other posts are intermediate commentaries, advanced commentaries, and my recommended forthcoming commentaries (as opposed to my more comprehensive forthcoming commentaries list)]

People often ask me what commentaries I would recommend for a particular book of the Bible. I have a significant commentary library that I constantly refer to, even reading some cover to cover. I also read lots of reviews of commentaries and investigate further purchases through the libraries I have access to and inter-library loan. I have a fair idea of the strengths and weaknesses of different commentaries.

For those who have never used a commentary before, they help your study of the Bible by giving background on language, archeology, theology, poetry, and connections with other scriptures. You can take advantage of someone who has spent hours wrestling with the text to find its meaning, its purpose, its relevance to life, etc. A commentary is incredibly helpful in getting the details of the text while also providing a broader framework. Commentaries vary in quality and usefulness for study of scripture as God's word, and some are too technical for someone without seminary or Bible school training.

I'll be starting a series of posts that will review the commentaries on each book of the Bible, working one book at a time. When I start that, I'll have one post that serves as an index for the whole series, and I'll link to it from here. This series will in part serve to explain my justification for the choices I've made in the lists in this post. It's much more than that, though. Sometimes it's worth having a number of commentaries on a given book, and this will help sort through all the possibilities, emphasizing the strengths and weaknesses of each book I discuss. Until that's finished, there are the lists here that just give the ones I recommend most highly in each of three categories.

First I'll list some good ones at a readable level for those without as much training or experience with in-depth study. Then I have another list of intermediate commentaries for each book, also requiring no formal biblical studies training but with more depth and some treatment of scholarly issues that wouldn't always but might come up in a Bible study discussion. Finally, I have the best scholarly commentaries by book, often with more than one choice due to different commentaries having different strengths or needing to be balanced with another perspective (or sometimes just because either so many are good or none stands out above the others).

I don't really expect anyone to read through this whole list, unless you're as obsessive about this stuff as I am, but it might be worth bookmarking it for later use if you want to look at it for future purchases.

(Note: if you have links to good reviews of books I don't have links to, let me know. Warning: some of the older reviews in the Journal of the Evangelical Theology Society (the ones in PDF format) contain multiple reviews per file, so you'll have to scroll down to the review in question. There's no way to link directly to a review. I think this is the case for any review published before the December 1997 issue.)

[Update: I've now made enough changes in this that I decided I might as well pull it forward to be my 1000th post. I've now got links to Amazon for every book they carry new (or to another site if Amazon doesn't have it) and links to book reviews for a great many of these commentaries. I've also got a list of forthcoming commentaries that I expect could make these lists once they're published, and I've already been adding to the lists as new commentaries have appeared. For posterity's sake, I originally posted version 1 of this on 14 February, 2004. This is my second major revision as of 16 February 2005. The first major revision was 4 August 2004.]

Series Abbreviations:
AB: Anchor Bible
AOTC: Apollos Old Testament Commentary
BCOTWS: Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms
BECNT: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
BNTC: Black�s New Testament Commentary
BST: The Bible Speaks Today
CC: Continental Commentaries
DSB: Daily Study Bible
EBC: Expositor�s Bible Commentary
ECC: Eerdmans Critical Commentary
H: Hermeneia
HCOT: Historical Commentary on the Old Testament
ICC: International Critical Commentaries
IVPNTC: IVP New Testament Commentary
JPS: Jewish Publication Society
NAC: New American Commentary
NIBC: New International Biblical Commentary
NICNT: New International Commentary on the New Testament
NICOT: New International Commentary on the Old Testament
NIGTC: New International Greek Testament Commentary
NIVAC: NIV Application Commentary
OTL: Old Testament Library
PNTC: Pillar New Testament Commentary
REC: Reformed Expository Commentary
SRC: Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
TNTC: Tyndale New Testament Commentary
TOTC: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary
WBC: Word Biblical Commentary
WEC: Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary
ZEC: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary

First are the basic commentaries, usually meant to be read cover to cover. They could possibly be used for personal study and can give the beginning Bible study group leader some pointers while bringing the fruit of scholarship (but not the details) to you. These are what I think best fill this role for each book.

Genesis -- John Walton (NIVAC) 2001
Exodus -- Peter Enns (NIVAC) 2000
Leviticus -- Roy Gane (NIVAC) 2004
Numbers -- Gordon Wenham (TOTC) 1981
Deuteronomy -- Christopher Wright (NIBC) 1996
Joshua -- David Howard (NAC) 1998 review 1, review 2
Judges and Ruth -- K. Lawson Younger (NIVAC) 2002
Samuel -- Bill Arnold (NIVAC) 2003
Kings -- Iain Provan (NIBC) 1995 review
Chronicles -- Andrew Hill (NIVAC) 2003
Ezra and Nehemiah -- Derek Kidner (TOTC) 1979
Esther -- Karen Jobes (NIVAC) 1999 review
Job -- Francis Andersen (TOTC) 1976
Psalms -- Michael Wilcock (BST) 2001, 2001
or Gerald Wilson Psalms 1-72 (NIVAC) 2002
Proverbs -- Paul Koptak (NIVAC) 2003
Ecclesiastes -- Iain Provan (NIVAC) 2001 (includes Song of Songs)
Song of Songs -- Tom Gledhill (BST) 1994 review
Isaiah -- J. Alec Motyer (TOTC) 1999 review (he also has a longer, in-depth commentary; see below)
or Barry Webb (BST) 1996
Jeremiah and Lamentations � Andrew Dearman (NIVAC) 2002
Ezekiel -- Iain Duguid (NIVAC) 1999
Daniel -- Joyce Baldwin (TOTC) 1978
or Tremper Longman (NIVAC) 1999
Hosea -- Gary Smith (NIVAC) 2001
or Peter Craigie, The Twelve Prophets (DSB) 1984
Joel -- David Baker (NIVAC) 2006
or Peter Craigie, The Twelve Prophets (DSB) 1984
Amos -- Gary Smith (NIVAC) 2001
or Peter Craigie, The Twelve Prophets (DSB) 1984
Obadiah -- David Baker (NIVAC) 2006
or Peter Craigie, The Twelve Prophets (DSB) 1984
Jonah -- Desmond Alexander (TOTC) 1988
or James Bruckner (NIVAC) 2004
Micah -- Bruce Waltke (TOTC) 1988
or Gary Smith (NIVAC) 2001
Nahum -- James Bruckner (NIVAC) 2004
or David Baker (TOTC) 1989
Habakkuk -- James Bruckner (NIVAC) 2004
or David Baker (TOTC) 1989
Zephaniah -- James Bruckner (NIVAC) 2004
or David Baker (TOTC) 1989
Haggai -- Joyce Baldwin (TOTC) 1972
or Peter Craigie, The Twelve Prophets (DSB) 1985
Zechariah -- Barry Webb (BST) 2004
or Joyce Baldwin (TOTC) 1972
Malachi -- David Baker (NIVAC) 2006
or Joyce Baldwin (TOTC) 1972

Matthew -- D.A. Carson (EBC) 1984 (volume 1, volume 2)
Mark -- David Garland (NIVAC) 1996
Luke -- Darrell Bock (NIVAC) 1996
John -- Ron Whitacre (IVPNTC) 1999
Acts -- John Stott (BST) 1994
Romans -- John Stott (BST) 1995 review
I Corinthians -- Craig Blomberg (NIVAC) 1995 review
II Corinthians -- Linda Belleville (IVPNTC) 1996 [online version sans introduction]
Galatians -- Philip Ryken (REC) 2005
Ephesians -- Klyne Snodgrass (NIVAC) 1996
Philippians -- Frank Thielman (NIVAC) 1995
Colossians and Philemon -- David Garland (NIVAC) 1998
Thessalonians -- Michael Holmes (NIVAC) 1998
Timothy and Titus -- Andreas Kostenberger (EBC) 2006 (with Ephesians-Thessalonians, Philemon)
Hebrews -- George Guthrie (NIVAC) 1998
James -- Douglas Moo (TNTC) 1986
or J. Alec Motyer (BST) 1985
I Peter -- Edmund Clowney (BST) 1989
or I. Howard Marshall (IVPNTC) 1991
II Peter and Jude -- Douglas Moo (NIVAC) 1996
I-III John -- John Stott (TNTC) 1988
Revelation -- Craig Keener (NIVAC) 1997

The list of intermediate commentaries is in part two.

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There are a number of websites with lists of recommended commentaries, but not all are that helpful. Here I will post a list of what I believe to be the most useful sets of commentary recommendations on the internet. The recommendations come from an evang Read More

The BST Old Testament series will take one further step towards completion with the forthcoming Message of Leviticus by Derek Tidball. Jeremy Pierce has updated his superb commentary recommendations post again. This is one of my most frequently visited Read More

The BST Old Testament series will take one further step towards completion with the forthcoming Message of Leviticus by Derek Tidball. Jeremy Pierce has updated his superb commentary recommendations post again. This is one of my most frequently visited Read More


May I invite you and your readers to a daily Bible commentary blog, Today's Bible. The daily commentaries are mostly written by lay people, but in a separate archive of the daily comments, I am collecting links to various on-line Jewish and Christian commentaries to suppliment the daily readings. We are currently in Leviticus. The archive is at

In the basic category, two commentaries in a new series should be mentioned. I haven't looked at them yet, but both authors have great reputations. The New Cambridge Bible Commentary has two volumes out, Judges and Ruth by Victor Mathews and Revelation by Ben Witherington, who is also the editor of the series.

The NIVAC series commentary on Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah by James Bruckner is now out. That's at least a contender for the best basic level commentary on these books.

iI've now looked at Ben Witherington on Revelation, mentioned in my previous comment. I don't think I'd list it as a first choice on any of the three levels. I prefer Keener on the basic level and Mounce on the intermediate level.

There's a review of Marvin Sweeney's Hermeneia volume on Zephaniah up at The Review of Biblical Literature. This commentary looks excellent and definitely belongs on the list of top scholarly commentaries on this book. I'll need to see how it compares with Berlin and Vlardingerbroek to know if it will be the sole scholarly commentary for me to recommend in addition to Motyer or if one of the other two should join it.

We seem to be on the same page.
Keep up the good work. Best wishews,
John Glynn Books: Commentary and Reference Survey: A Comprehensive Guide to Biblical and Theological Resources (Kregel)

Thanks, John. I have your book and use it frequently.

D.A. Carson has(recently ?) written a book on Commentaries - what to look for, what he recommends, etc... I have this book if you want to take a look...

Over and out from Tampa, Florida.

One thing that is frequently forgotten is that all translations are to a degree commentaries. A simple example using your next post is the NIV translation of 1 Cor. 7:1 as marriage rather than the literal not touch a woman. We sometimes forget that simple fact.

One other axiom I have is that I never look at a commentary until I have read and thought about the verse(s) raw and uncommented. I don't have a study bible for that reason and use one without even cross-references. I think as Christians we are honor bound to allow our first teacher to be God the Holy Spirit and then allow the Spirit's work with others to engage us. Too often commentaries are an excuse not to "read, mark, and inwardly digest" God's Word on our own.

That said, I have shelves of commentaries also. ;-)

I have a few resources that give a sense of what forthcoming commentaries to expect, but Craig Blomberg has reviewed a commentary that apparently just came out that I knew nothing about. Colin Kruse has just published a replacement volume on John in the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series. I haven't been happy with the selection of introductory level commentaries on John, and at the recommendation of Blomberg, who has done some good work on John himself, I'm going to list this one as the premier intro level John commentary.

Thanks for the listing and brief comments on the various commentaries here.

I reckon you have made note of Murray Harris' soon to be released commentary on II Corinthians.

Yes, I'm not listing anything until it's out, but Harris on II Corinthians, Waltke on Proverbs 1-15, Koestenberger on John, Jobes on I Peter, Motyer on Exodus, and Silva on Philippians are all on my list to consider adding once they're out and I've had a chance to see them or reviews of them.

I've moved the links to reviews to text saying 'review' so that I can begin the process of linking to Amazon entries for the books themselves. I'm not sure how long that will take. I will probably not be able to do it all at once because of the sheer time involved with that sort of busy work, so if some of the entries are linked but not others it's because I haven't finished.

I've decided that I'm gradually going to add more content here, including but perhaps not limited to:

1. a list of forthcoming commentaries that I think will prove worthy additions to the recommended list once out
2. some more detailed discussion of commentaries I've had a chance to spend more time reading or using for reference
3. perhaps an expansion to include more commentaries that I would recommend less with explanations for why I would prefer some over others, which would allow someone who might disagree to see all the options

thanks Jeremy, this is a fantastic resource. You obviously have some good contacts to know so much about what's coming in the future.
A few minor corrections & additions:
- Armerding on Judges will be WBC not NICOT
- You also say NICOT in a few places where I assume you mean NICNT
- You may not know that there is NIGTC volume on Matthew on its way too:

keep up the good work

No, the WBC Judges is going to be by Trent Butler, who did the WBC Joshua. I'm not sure why the contract with Armerding is no longer in effect, but his work for the WBC is going to be repackaged in the NICOT series, which means Barry Webb won't be doing that one, even though he'd once been contracted for it.

There was a similar shuffle in the WBC series with I Corinthians. It had originally been contracted to Judith Gundry-Volf, but I've also seen it listed as Linda Belleville. The latter source was much more recent, though the former was the publisher's website, which may just not have been updated (but it did list Butler on Judges, I believe). There was also some issue with the NICOT on Exodus by Eugene Carpenter. Apparently the same publisher will be publishing it, but it won't be in that series for some reason.

Most of my information on forthcoming volumes is from publishers' websites and John Glynn's excellent commentary and reference resource, which his comment above links to. He's the one with lots of contacts.

I noticed the NICOT/NICNT thing last night and haven't gotten around to changing those.

I do know that Nolland's Matthew commentary will be out soon. I haven't looked at his Luke one much, but D.A. Carson was kind of lukewarm about the Luke one (he says he's good at listing the interpretive options but less willing to give reasons particular views), so I haven't gotten as excited about his Matthew one.

There are plenty of other forthcoming volumes that I could have listed but will wait until I hear more about them or until they're out. These are the ones I'm really looking forward to because I've liked the work by the scholar, because someone whose work I like has plugged it in advance, or because it will be the first major evangelical work on that book in decades.

I'm looking for some advice on which commentary to buy, and was wondering if you could share some of the reasons behind your recommendations. My problem books are Matthew and Hebrews. I have a couple of short paperbacks on these books but I am looking for something a bit more heavyweight, roughly in between your intermediate and advanced categories. But I don't have the time to read or money to buy the massive multi-volume works.

For Matthew I have narrowed it down to three.
Carson (EBC): Consistently gets recommended, but is a bit dated (over 20 years old now) and I read one review saying that he spends a lot of time refuting out of date views.
Morris (PNTC): Almost never gets recommended, and I'm not sure why. Is it because he's too conservative and doesn't engage in textual criticism? I would have thought that with Carson as editor of the Pillar series, this would be like an update of Carson's own commentary. I've really liked everything else I've read in the Pillar series.
Keener: The most recent and a bit expensive but every now and then Amazon put it on special offer. Should I grab it next time the price drops?

Hebrews is more difficult. I'm sure that I will get Carson (BEC) and O'Brien (PNTC) when they come out, but I don't have any idea of how far into the future this is. The best value for money option that is out now is NICNT Bruce, but I found his writing style a bit dull in his Acts commentary. Lane (WBC) is a bit too expensive unless Wesley Owen do another commentary sale. John Piper recommends Ellingworth (NIGTC) but its very expensive in the UK.

This is one of the reasons I wanted to start a series highlighting more commentaries than these on each book, trying to say something substantial about as many as I can. In the meantime, I can give a couple thoughts that maybe I can later use as the basis of posts on these books in my series on particular books.

On Matthew, there are a few other volumes that generally get good reviews. I prefer Carson to Blomberg's NAC, mostly because it's got more depth and because it's Carson, but Blomberg is more recent and of a similar mold. Carson's two volumes are more in the end than Blomberg's one, and the two have similar sensitivities.

If you're looking for something with more depth, that probably won't do. There's Hagner's WBC. He considers himself an evangelical, but he denies inerrancy, at least as I define it. He thinks Matthew made up some of Jesus' miracles, for instance, and his interpretations have been criticized heavily in the reviews I've read in JETS and Trinity Journal. He is more conservative about authenticity than Allison and Davies, but my highest level is for the most respected and useful commentaries for scholarship, and this isn't as detailed or comprehensive as theirs, and I've seen a few people say it Allison and Davies is also a little more sound exegetically. A number of people consider him the best semi-affordable commentary, though, since Allison and Davies are more expensive (though if you get the paperback ICCs now coming out, it's much easier). It's only two volumes instead of three. Gordon Fee recommends Hagner for a more detailed commentary, as do Blomberg and Klein at Denver Journal. Both Allison-Davies and Hagner are heavy on the Greek.

Carson is pretty critical of Keener, because he's too easily moved to reconstruct a speculative historical situation without much evidence, and his commentary is really idiosyncratic, not focusing much on standard stuff like grammar, structure, and theology unless it's one of Keener's issues. All that being said, Keener has a real eye for the practical, and when he's not being too speculative he's pretty good at putting together what might have been the social and historical background of certain passages in a way that makes them come alive. It's also much easier to read than either of the multi-volume ones. For some specific criticisms of Keener, as well as some high praise for his strengths, see Blomberg's review.

Carson's criticism of Morris is that it's uneven in the amount of space he gives to different things, and he calls it workmanlike, which to him seems to mean that the author doesn't add much to the discussion and isn't very exciting but is solid nonetheless. That commentary was written before there was a Pillar series, by the way, as were Morris' Romans, Carson's John, and Hughes's Revelation. After the four came out with similar covers, Eerdmans asked Carson to turn it into a series, and he began commissioning volumes to be produced.

I'll do Hebrews in a separate comment.

For Hebrews, I highly recommend Lane. It's actually easier to read than Ellingworth. Ellingworth almost never translates the Greek, and he's got in-text citations littering his text, whereas Lane keeps them more sparing and only references the author, leaving you to look at the bibliography for more information, and Lane translates the Greek much more. Carson thinks Ellingworth's examination of the Greek is better than the other commentaries, but he thinks Lane is better at discussing theology too, and the readability element is important for him.

The biggest problem with the Bruce commentary is that it's largely 40 years out of date. If you think Carson on Matthew is out of date, this is twice as far back in time. It was technically revised shortly before Bruce died, but that was mostly an update in bibliography and a little more stuff in the footnotes.

I really like Philip Edgcumbe Hughes's commentary, which isn't in a series. It's still old, from the late 70s, but it's more recent than Bruce, and it's highly readable, much more theological than anything Bruce has done (though Bruce on Hebrews is more theological than many of his commentaries), and Carson says it covers the history of interpretation better than any other modern commentary. It's not as focused on what scholars will often care about, though, including exegesis of Greek words and interaction with modern scholarship.

Gordon Fee recommends Lane, Bruce, and the socio-rhetorical commentary by David DeSilva, which I've seen others recommend but probably has all the speculative elements of such commentaries without the strengths of what traditional commentaries cover. I haven't looked at it myself.

If I had to recommend an option, I'd say either suck it up and get Lane or try to find Hughes and then supplement it with George Guthrie's NIVAC for more recent coverage.

On the forthcoming volumes by Carson and O'Brien, O'Brien's will almost certainly be coming out sooner. I haven't seen any announcements for further PNTCs, but O'Brien has at least already started. He began work on Hebrews when he finished his Ephesians commentary. He was listed as a scholar at Tyndale House working on Hebrews a year or two ago. Carson has so many commentaties contracted that there's no way to tell if he's even begun. For all I know, he's working on them all at once, so maybe all of his forthcoming commentaries are almost done, but I know the NIGTC on John's letters has been just about done for well over a decade.

Thanks for such a full and helpful answer. I have a �15 Amazon voucher to spend so I needed to clarify my thoughts. It does seem that both books are overdue a really good evangelical commentary.

I'll probably make do for the time being with Carson on Matthew, and leave Hebrews altogether (unless I can get Lane for a bargain price) until something new comes out.

Your reviews are helpful to me, thank you.
Although you have a Dispensational bent, I can still get an idea of some good ones as well as which to avoid by your reviews. I find that my beliefs of biblical, covenant theology rather than systematic, dispensational theology has a much greater affect on whether or not I enjoy a specific commentary than I used to think it did.

So I have gravitated more toward the amillennial, non-dispensational exegetists as time has gone by

(especially those who believe that 'ISRAEL' is the company of people who are made righteous through the same faith that Abraham had in believing God's promises--This can include jewish people who in the past believed God's promises and in the present believe on Jesus Christ, but it doesn't include non-believing jews--therefore there is no special place in God's kingdom for PHYSICAL descendants of Abraham, but only for Spiritual Descendants, That is, faithful in-Christ Jews AND Gentiles).

This has too much of an affect on all the rest of scripture & theology, especially the ties between the old and new covenants (old and new testaments), for me to enjoy reading the commentaries of those who do not either understand this, or those who flat out don't believe it. So I just can't read stuff by people like Gleason Archer, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, and many others.

I am finding more and more non-dispensationalists however, these days, than in the preceding 20 years or so, and I am so very grateful.

As for my favorite writers, I have always had a great affinity for any commentary by William Hendriksen, Simon Kistemaker, and Gerhard Von Rad.

I'll take Hendriksen's 1939 classic "More Than Conquerors" over just about ANY Revelation commentary released SINCE then. I DO like G.K.
Beale's, Stephen S. Smalley's, and Louis Brighton's Revelation commentaries, however.
Beale's may be the best ever. I still even like William Milligan's 1889 classic Revelation commentary from The Expositor's Bible.

I also like a nice simple writing style, which is probably why I like Hendriksen so much. Craig Koester writes along those lines too, and I find Geoffrey B. Wilson's approach to be similar. I also enjoy John Wick Bowman and Homer Hailey.
I have a very easy to understand book by Homer Hailey on the Minor Prophets, and a great commentary on Romans by Hendriksen, both of which I go back to often.

Anyhow, I just want to thank you for the commentary reviews. They are definitely helpful and I saved a copy to refer back to.

Take care & God bless,
James Paul

My favorite all encompassing, one-volume commentary would have to be the edition of The New Bible Commentary just previous to the current new '21st century edition'. It had some really good writers,(O.T. Allis and E.J. Young are favorites of mine). I thought it was better than the newest version. Still, it was necessary to update it with the newest archeological discoveries.

You apparently didn't read very far, because my Ephesians review expressed discontent with Hoehner's dispensationalism, and I've tried to avoid commentaries on books like Ezekiel, Daniel, or Revelation that are dispensationlist, because I think such commentaries stray far from the text. What's funny is that you even list some of the standard dispensational writers, none of whom appear in my list. As it happens, I'm an amillenialist who doesn't agree with everything in Covenant Theology but is closer to it. (Read up on New Covenant Theology if you want to see the standard non-dispensationalist view besides Covenant Theology. I've found that many people in the Presbyterian/Covenant mode think there's just their system and dispensationalism, and that's not the case.)

Covenant theology is a systematic theology, by the way. Biblical theologians just deal with particular themes in particular texts and across texts. It's systematic theologians who put it all together in a system like covenant theology.

I didn't list Kistemaker and Hendricksen simply because their commentaries don't get good reviews by scholars. I haven't spent a lot of time in either, but their exegesis is often described as less careful than the commentaries I've listed. Von Rad doesn't belong in this list because his commentaries aren't basic level. I don't list him on my more detailed commentary list because newer works are better for what he was good at. I also prefer work by those with an attitude toward scripture that's more friendly to its authority, though that's not always possible at the most detailed level of scholarship.

I agree that Greg Beale's Revelation commentary is the best out. I like Craig Keener and Grant Osborne as well, but I agree with Beale more. Keener is the best at this level, and he presents the various views fairly. He's a premillenialist, but I find that he's represented amillenialism fairly. I haven't had a chance to see Smalley's yet, and I don't know about the Brighton one. Is that an old one?

I think the newer New Bible Commentary is much better than the old one, not just because it's more up-to-date but because the writers selected are much more in tune with good scholarship. Evangelicalism has come a long way since the 70s in terms of doing more responsible academic scholarship, and the new New Bible Commentary reflects that. I don't use one-volumes as much, because (1) they're just so thin that they don't usually answer the questions I have and (2) they have such a wide range of authors that only some of them will be as good as the ones who are good enough to motivate someone to buy the volume. If you buy individual volumes according to which ones are good, then you can just avoid the less useful ones in a series.

Thank you for responding. You are right on all accounts, as I can be kind of an idiot at times.

I do disagree with "Scholars" who rate Hendriksen and Kistemaker poorly. They are a bit too snooty at times for my money. I am a layman, and I am not ashamed. I think some scholars could use the gift that Hendriksen & Kistemaker have, that of being able to write for BOTH scholars and layman alike. Those too are as scholarly as anyone else if they need to be, & I believe a close examination of their works will prove it.
Carson rated Hendriksen's Matthew quite high in his Survey book. For reformed conservative commenting, I'll take them anyday.

I have used your ratings alot more since I first wrote, and I agree and see now that you are very helpful. You ARE very helpful in pointing out conservative commentaries, and I was completely off-base in my comments before.

That Denver resource you pointed out has helped me too in finding evangelical yet conservative single volume commentaries.
I am a layman as I said, and learning everyday about theology and what each term means.
I am now realizing I am Amillennial, Conservative, AND Evangelical if I understand the terms right. I didn't realize 'evangelical' meant believing that the bible is God's word and the authority, and is the opposite of critical commenting. Do I have that right?
Because I don't care at all for critical commentaries. I just want application and commentaries which help me put the scripture into use in life.
I kind of think that commenters who get caught up in telling me how they came to their final conclusions are wasting my time. I don't care about their methods or their research. I just want it all put into perspective.
I don't know If I'm explaining this the way I mean it.

Anyway, I am really glad you are doing these reviews.

I am really low on money right now, habving recently lost my job, and am selling off alot of my books to pay bills, but I still love to read commentaries and bible related books. I find that the Laymans commentaries, and The everyman's commentary series are good in some places and really cheap and affordable.
In Layman like Paul Minear on Matthew, J.W. Bowman on Peter & James, and a bunch of other ones.
I am still trying to find out who is conservative and who is critical, and who is nondispensational as well. I widsh there was a master list somewhere on every commentary author stating their beliefs.
I also wish there was a master listing of the cheapest GOOD commentaries.
I guess when all is said and done I will have a good start on both of those lists.
Another great list would be a master list of Eschatological views by authors-- Amillennial, Premillenial (Dispensational AND Non Dispensational), and Postmillennial.

Thanks again for your hard work on this and I hope you continue to write more helpful lists in the future.
All Peace and God's Blessings to you,

James, I wouldn't want to diminish the value of the technical commentaries. I can understand your not wanting to wade through them yourself and sort out a bunch of arguments that you don't think you're qualified to evaluate. You'd rather just find someone who is qualified to evaluate them who shares your basic convictions, who can then report the results of that investigation to you. But someone does need to do that work to begin with for the popular-level commentaries to be any good. Someone needs to sort through the technical arguments about grammar, historical background, textual basis, and so on. That's the value of the technical commentaries. I happen to have readers who want exactly that so they can do the work themselves of sifting out the various positions, so I recommend commentaries at that level. This is why I keep my recommendations separate for people looking for different kinds of commentaries.

As for the label 'evangelicalism', it's actually a pretty slippery term. Some people mean by it something like what 'fundamentalism' used to refer to it until the media hijacked it to mean "someone more religiously conservative than I would like them to be". Some mean by it just someone who takes the Bible seriously and really believes it has a divine source, and a lot of those people don't accept inerrantism or other high views of its authority. Some complain that that's just being dishonest (and I tend to agree; that's not evangelicalism). So it's easier to talk now of conservative evangelicals, moderately critical evangelicals, borderline fringe evangelicals, etc. I tend just to avoid the term myself in these contexts, unless I can clarify what I mean by it.

I have recently went through Dr. Jim Roscup's list of commentaries from his book, Commentaries for Biblical Expositors. It is an excellent source of informaton regarding numerous commentaries, from conservative to liberal and those in between. Thanks for the information and keep up the great work.

This post and its long tail of comments is quite old, but if you see this please consider my Amos "volume" which is detailed, free and available online as the first of a projected series. Hypertext Bible Commentary the prototype materials are at and the peer-reviewed stable citable version at

Hi Jeremy
your commentary review are very helpful. starting undergraduate degree in theology with intention to go in for full time preaching ministry. have a evangelical stance but open to critical approach, awant to build up library, liked what read of the WBC series, buying full set (DVD set for use in Logos software) seems good (cost effective) way of getting full set of commentary on bible. In your review the WBC series covered 50% recommended for OT and about 70% for NT. Is the WBC the best whoe bible series in your view, if not whcih would you suggest.

Donald, I prefer the NICOT/NICNT for whole Bible over the WBC. It's much stronger from an evangelical point of view than the WBC, especially on OT but also somewhat on NT also.

Have you seen Ross Taylor's online commentary on
and his short reviews on books and materials concerning Revelation? This guy has read almost everything speaking about the book of Revelation.

I was looking at getting some of the NICOT commentaries, but I noticed that they are not all released yet. Do you know where I may be able to find the release dates and the authors (particularly the one for Exodus)? Thanks!

Nathaniel, publishers don't generally list release dates for books that haven't been written yet, since they can never predict how long the author will take. Commentary series in particular have a notorious record of giving bad predictions. They have to contract them out well in advance, and the author often takes too long, often being replaced by the publisher with a different author, leading to any dates being pushed way back. Eerdmans doesn't typically give release dates until the book is in press.

I do have some information on forthcoming commentaries, but a lot of it is unreliable. You can see it here organized by series (and here organized by book of the Bible).

I know that with Exodus they have reassigned the project several times over several decades. The most recent author assigned to the book is Brent Strawn. If you would like to contact him, his faculty website is here. He may be able to give you some information on how long he expects to take in writing it. My guess is that it won't be appearing for several years, since these projects usually take a while, and he was assigned it fairly recently. If you do find anything out, I would appreciate hearing about it.

Thanks Jeremy,

I just emailed him, and I'll let you know if I find out anything.

He just got back to me. He said that it would take at least 4 years.

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