This is the second introductory post to my series reviewing commentaries on different books of the Bible. The first introduces the series and explains some of the classifications I'll be using. This post will review the various series of commentaries. See this post for a list of series abbreviations, which I'll use a little bit in this post. The first time I introduce a series I'll give its whole name, and I'll use abbreviations if I refer to it when discussing a series later in the list. I suppose it's fitting that a post that took well over a month to complete will end up as the round number of post #1100.
[Update: I'm putting together posts listing individual volumes for each series, but it will take me a while to do this. As I go, I will put links in from this post. As of this update, I've only got two in there, but this process should be a lot quicker than my more detailed reviews of commentaries on each book of the Bible, which takes a lot more work for me to put together if I want to do as careful a review as I've been doing. So I expect these to be filling out in due time.]
One caveat I should mention is that buying series might be a bad idea. Some people like the idea of having a whole commentary set. There are a few reasons to be wary of such motivations. First, every commentary set is to some degree uneven. There will be better and worse commentaries in any series with multiple authors. Some excellent series have some real duds. Some of the best commentaries out there are standouts in series that overall aren't of the same quality as those standout volumes. Also, some great volumes aren't in any series.
Second, many series aren't even complete, and if you buy what's out now you'll not even have a complete series anyway. If that's the motivation, you may not even be able to fulfill it. Some of the best series out now are still in process, and some series will eventually replace volumes with more recent work or later editions. Buying a whole series now may turn out to be counterproductive in that sense, since next year might bring a replacement or two of volumes you just bought. Maybe sometimes it's financially better to buy a whole series rather than buying individual commentaries separately over a long time and just ending up with a few more books than you need, but ideally you will pick and choose individual volumes that are the best on each book. If you've got lots of money to spare or don't care as much about unevenness of writers, this won't be as much of a concern for you, but most people have budgets and want to maximize the bang for their buck.
The Anchor Bible (AB) commentaries are among the most academically respectable scholarly commentaries, though the quality and level of detail can vary from volume to volume. They transliterate the Greek and Hebrew, which helps for someone who doesn't know the original languages, but sometimes the level of detail isn't all that helpful for someone who just wants a little background and doesn't want to wade through pages of scholarship to find that the kind of theological question they're worrying about is hardly treated by a scholar who cares more about the linguistic, historical, and text-critical issues. Not all volumes are like this, but many are. The level of detail will also vary greatly from volume to volume, with later publication dates often signaling much more depth, and some (though certainly not all) older ones are all but useless given what else is out there. Textual criticism, exegetical notes and expositional commentary are separated into separate sections. This makes it difficult to find anything, but it also keeps separate kinds of work separate. I'd rather not have these separated, but some people prefer it.
As with most critical series, evangelicals will be troubled by some of the conclusions of the scholars writing in this series. Though evangelicals can supplement the kind of information in these commentaries with what I consider to be much better theological sense and a much higher appreciation of scripture, many evangelical commentaries simply can't compete with the best volumes in this series, at least with respect to historical and sociological background information, lexical study, text criticism, archaeology. etc. Theology is often given short shrift. The series is mostly done, with only Nahum and Philippians not covered and only Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Ezekiel still only partially covered, though some volumes are also being revised or replaced (II Chronicles and Proverbs 10-31 are being replaced, and Revelation is in the process of being revised).
The Apollos Old Testament Commentary (AOTC) series is an interesting venture. The publisher and editors are evangelicals, but I'm not sure how conservative all the authors will be. I get the sense that some of them are only moderately evangelical. This is not a full-scale academic conmmentary, but it's much more than a popular-level exposition. I'd probably place it within the intermediate range, but I've got only the slightest familiarity with the series so far, having looked at only one volume just a little bit without reading much of it.
Only Deuteronomy and Daniel have been published so far, and both are of the highest quality scholarship without the detail of the more in-depth series. The primary purpose, according to the editors, is to explain the text to the contemporary reader, focusing on theology and providing less detail on other elements commentaries often cover. There are enough really stellar people on the projected authors list that I expect this series to be excellent.
The Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) is one of my favorite series now. It's fairly new, with just Luke, Romans, Revelation, I Corinthians, John, and Galatians out as of this writing, and I Peter will be out within a few months. In some ways this is a technical series. They use Greek font and address most of the issues a full-scale commentary will deal with, offering plenty of detail. I think Darrell Bock's two volumes on Luke are now the most helpful commentary on Luke, and Andreas Koestenberger on John rivals that of D.A. Carson, my personal favorite commentator on scripture.
At the same time, all Greek is transliterated and translated, so readers unfamiliar with the language won't be slowed down by the Greek font. Also, the format and organization of the series is one of the best I've ever seen. It looks like a cutting edge college textbook, something you never see in a serious academic work, but the content is exactly the latter. It's not of the kind of reference-work detail as some other series, so you can actually read through a whole commentary in this series if you're the sort who likes to read the more scholarly commentaries (as I do). It's also thoroughly evangelical but with much higher standards for contributors than some evangelical series. The editors have by and large chosen extremely responsible biblical scholars for what will become one of the best detailed commentary series on the New Testament.
The Bible Speaks Today (BST) series may well be the easiest to read of all the series here. Some commentaries are very difficult to read as books, but this series isn't like that. A friend of mine who has little experience using commentaries borrowed my copy of the volume on Isaiah by Barry Webb and read half of it in about two days. Yet at the same time most of the volumes in this series are indeed backed by serious scholarship. It just doesn't show up in the text, which focuses on exposition of the passage.
This series tends to focus on theology, literary flow, and practical significance. You won't find as much on grammatical details. Historical and social background comes in as necessary, but it's not usually the focus. Some volumes (e.g. Song of Songs) get a much more detailed treatment than others. If you intend to get a basic understanding of a book in a short span of time, these books are ideal. If you want detailed study beyond the basics, they might best serve as a good summary before or after you delve further with other treatments. Update: See Mark Health's more in-depth review of this series for more.
It's hard for me to say much of any unified nature about the Black's New Testament Commentaries (BNTC). The series has also been called Harper's New Testament Commentaries. Some of its older volumes are classics of their time but are outdated at this point. At that point, commentaries weren't generally as long or detailed as nowadays, and the scholarly standards could afford to be as brief as this series. It now falls short on that score, but it's still a bit much for those who need an introductory or basic commentary. Some of the newer volumes, therefore, are good sources for referring to an alternative perspective but not frontliners due to their relative brevity for a scholarly commentary. These will never be seen as a classic volume for their time the way older ones in the series did. Those doing academic work will need to be aware of them still, but someone preaching or leading a Bible study will in most cases be better suited with a more detailed commentary, and those who just want an introductory guide will better turn to a briefer work.
Most of the Continental Commentaries (CC) are translations of German works. Many of them are older and no longer the most cutting edge scholarship. In some cases, the assumptions include whole speculative interpretive frameworks that are far removed from current trends but not traditional by any means. Often the focus is on historical reconstruction and source delineation, with hardly any discussion of theology or contemporary significance. A few of these volumes are among the most influential and respected academic work on the book or books in question, so by no means should this series be dismissed, but in most cases I would recommend other works instead, with a few exceptions. One strange exception is that Jacob Milgrom has edited his three-volume masterpiece on Leviticus in the Anchor Bible series down to one volume for this series, often a more in-depth series than the Anchor volumes tend to be.
As the name suggests, the Daily Study Bible (DSB) series is designed to be read devotionally, one section per day. William Barclay's New Testament volumes were the standard for the multi-author Old Testament series. Barclay's volumes are almost all way out of date now, and his conclusions are to my mind too much toward the liberal end to recommend to evangelicals as devotional reading. Some of the OT volumes are similar, but a few are quite good and solidly conservative, e.g. Peter Craigie on the Minor Prophets and Ezekiel. Some of the authors tend to stay away from the controversial matters of history and focus on immediate meaning of the text and contemporary application, but others are happy to include interpetations that conflict with evangelical readings of the books. On the introductory level, I generally recommend BST and the NIV Application Commentary over these, and some Tyndales are good for this level as well.
Only three volumes of the new Eerdmans Critical Commentary (ECC) are out now, Psalms, I-II Timothy, and Philemon. The latter two started as Anchor Bibles, and the authors died without finishing them. When the two editors of the AB series split ways, the editor who remained with AB reassigned those volumes to other authors, and the editor who left began this series with the completion of their work assigned to their students who shared the style and viewpoint of their teachers. The expected contributors should range from moderate to liberal in perspective.
My impression of this series is that it's much too detailed for anyone but serious scholars to spend much time on. At least the NT volumes so far seem this way. They've got lots of information, but it's too much for expositors who don't reserve most of their week for sermon preparation. Detailed academic commentaries exist that don't drown the reader with too much information. Even so, the academic can't ignore this series. It will end up being one of the most important scholarly commentary series as it develops. The one OT volume so far seemed to me not to answer any of the questions I was interested in, even though it didn't seem anywhere near as detailed as I expect given what the NT volumes are like. I tried to use it when I was leading a Bible study on the Psalms, and it was virtually no help. So I'm not sure what to say about that one. I've read lots of reviews that rave about it, but it just didn't useful to me. The volumes in this series are also extremely expensive.
The Expositor's Bible Commentary (EBC) really varies in quality. Some of its volumes are good introductory expositions, and some are even perhaps among the best on the individual books they treat (e.g. Exodus, Samuel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Matthew). In one case, D.A. Carson on Matthew, the series editors allowed enough space to put it in the intermediate commentary category. Some of the better treatments appear in their own paperback volumes (e.g. Carson on Matthew, Longenecker on Acts), but most have to be purchased in hardcover form bound with other books that often won't have as good treatment, which is bad for a series whose quality and depth varies so much from author to author. Even so, the price is pretty low for a hardcover of this size, especially if you can find them used.
The tends to be pretty conservative, and all contributors are evangelical, tending toward premillenialism where such issues are relevant. Some are dispensationalists, and others are classic premillenialists. It would surprise me if a few amillenialists crept in for the minor prophets, but I'm not sure. I believe the series is being updated soon, with some treatments being revised and others replaced altogether. I'm really looking forward to Andreas Koestenberger's coverage of the Pastoral Epistles. It was supposed to have been out by now, but I haven't seen anything yet.
The Hermeneia series is noted especially for its comprehensive attention to parallels in other literature. This will almost invariably involve many speculative connections with literature not necessary for interpreting the biblical text and just amounts to distraction. A number of these commentaries are absolutely excellent and in fact the scholar standards on their respective books. Others are outdated or eccentric, and those books are better served by other commentaries. It uses the original language and will be harder to read by those unschooled in Hebrew and Greek, but there is usually a translation of any non-English, which makes it much easier than some other series. Even though it's more detail than necessary in most cases, some of these volumes really are the best detailed exegesis of the book they cover, and I'll indicate some of those when I do the review of commentaries for each book. In most cases, scholars will need to refer to them, but expositors will not. The series is still very much in process in the Old Testament, with only Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and about two thirds of the prophets completed.
The Historical Commentary on the Old Testament (HCOT) is another scholarly series. I looked a little at one of the volumes on Isaiah when I was teaching a section of that book last summer, and it was virtually useless to me. It's strong on historical background, and it's probably good exegesis, but you can often get that in smaller commentaries without so much detail that you won't need unless you're a scholar, particularly ones more likely to focus on theological questions. I will say that I think this series is likely to be a little friendlier to conservative scholarly concerns than some of the other academic series, and there's officially supposed to be some sort of concern for Christian commitment, the connection between the OT and NT, and even an eye toward Christian living, but I didn't notice much of that in the ones I've looked at, and I wouldn't at this consider something in this series my first choice unless the options from other series are slim pickings.
It's also fairly expensive and hard to get in the U.S. (Amazon doesn't even have some of the few volumes that are out). Even with all those caveats about most people who want something for Bible teaching, this series will be incredibly important. The volumes out already are by major scholars whose work will be influential. Students and scholars need to pay attention to this series. So far, Exodus, I Kings 1-11, Isaiah 28-66, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah have been published since 1993 when the series began.
The International Critical Commentaries (ICC) are another academic series, probably the most in-depth of all of them, though the new ECC series promises to rival it. Therefore all the worries I've raised about the level of detail will crop up. This was an old series, some volumes even from the 19th century. The last one was published in 1951, and then in the 1970s it was revived with Cranfield's Romans commentary. Some other volumes were assigned, but I don't think anything else appeared until the 1990s. We've now got a number of new volumes, some on books that the older ones had covered and some to fill in the gaps.
All volumes are heavily detailed and hard to read through but excellent as a reference. Non-English terms are not translated. Some of these commentaries are the best out on the book in question, others serious contenders for top four or five. Almost all of the new volumes (which include Judges 1-5, Jeremiah, Hosea, Matthew, Acts, Romans, II Corinthians, Ephesians, Pastoral Epistles) are in this category. I wouldn't want to use any of them for a first choice, however, just because they're hard to read, and all the caveats for academic commentaries will apply to the utmost with this series. Still, this series has one of the highest rates of good exegesis to bad scholarship of all the academic commentaries, particularly the more recent volumes, and their encyclopedic value simply for reference is mostly unmatched.
The Interpretation series is an interesting attempt to provide practical sermon-ready commentary at an introductory level from a mainstream (i.e. usually theologically moderate to liberal) perspective. Many of the volumes I've looked at are somewhat thin on exegesis, as you might expect, but they do seem to be practically minded, and the author involved are usually real scholars with research to back up their conclusions. The focus is on the overall sense of a longer passage, focusing on general themes. The aim is to guide the preacher in the homiletical rather than exegetical enterprise. For many books, I prefer the Bible Speaks Today, NIVAC, IVPNTC, and other more conservative series in general for this level of commentary, but some of the volumes in this series are quite excellent. As with most lighter commentaries, they can be a nice read cover to cover, and some of the authors have great theological sense.
The IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNTC) is supposed to be somewhere between the Bible Speaks Today series and the Tyndale Old and New Testament Commentaries. A few of these volumes are just shortened work by someone who has a longer commentary on the same book, and for most commentary users it would be better to have the longer work by the author. Only a handful of these volumes would be in my list of preferred commentaries on the book in question, but quite a number of them would serve as excellent guides for a Bible study leader who would have a harder time with a more detailed commentary. I really like Larkin on Acts, Belleville on I Corinthians, and Marshall on I Peter. Some that others have recommended seemed less good to me.
The Jewish Publication Society (JPS) has a commentary series that takes an interesting direction. They have the Hebrew text, in normal right to left Hebrew pagination, with commentary on the opposing pages. These commentaries are geared toward those who know Hebrew, and all the authors are Jewish scholars of a notable reputation. This series tends to be better than most on including the history of interpretation, particularly but not exclusively with respect to rabbinic interpretations, and theology isn't always left to the side as with many academic series. Some of these commentaries are at the top in terms of scholarly work. Jacob Milgrom on Numbers would be a first choice for me, Adele Berlin on Esther is a toss-up with one or two other commentaries, and I imagine Michael Fox's Eccelesiastes commentary is excellent given his other work. The original series was just the Torah, but now they've included Esther, Ecclesiastes, Jonah, and a collection of scattered texts used in Jewish liturgy, and I imagine they will continue.
Thomas McComiskey edited a three-volume series on the minor prophets that fills a need that most evangelical series don't seem to fill. Some of the more scholarly mainstream series have treated these books with great care, devoting long volumes in some cases even to small books like Obadiah or Habakkuk. Evangelical series have tended to spend less time on them, and this series remedies that. Volume 1 contains Hosea (Thomas McComiskey), Joel (Raymond Dillard), and Amos (Jeffrey Niehaus). Volume 2 has Obadiah (Jeffrey Niehaus), Jonah (Joyce Baldwin), Micah (Bruce Waltke), Nahum (Tremper Longman), and Habakkuk (F.F. Bruce). Volume 3 treats Zephaniah (J. Alec Motyer), Haggai (J. Alec Motyer), Zechariah (Thomas McComiskey), and Malachi (Douglas Stuart). This is an excellent cast, and some of these treatments have done really well in all the commentary reviews I've read, particularly McComiskey's Hosea and Zechariah and Waltke's Micah.
The format involves a translation, a technical exegesis on the top half of the page referring to Hebrew language with Hebrew font, and an exposition that has no technical language or Hebrew font that runs along the bottom. People who just want the exposition can read just that part, though I think it's best to try to ground it in the exegesis even if you can't follow the Hebrew exegesis itself, because there's value support for the exposition there. I know no Hebrew, and I've been able to read the exegesis sections. I highly recommend this series. In many cases, there will be a more detailed academic work on the same minor prophet, along with some popular treatment that might be easier to read, but this combines something of both worlds in one place, and the scholars involved are all very good commentators.
Most of the Mentor Commentaries (MC) are obscure. I don't know much about them, but my sense is that only two of them have garnered any notice, Robert Gordon on Samuel and Gary Smith on Amos. Gordon's commentary has no ideal audience. It's not detailed enough for careful scholarly work, because it's just too brief. At the same time, it's pretty technical and thus not well suited for someone who isn't comfortable with the more scholarly literature. The best use for it would be as a conservative evangelical supplement to a more detailed commentary from a more mainstream viewpoint. I haven't looked at Smith on Amos much, and I don't even have his 1998 revision, but my sense is that it's a more standard mid-level commentary, and his has been the evangelical standard on Amos for years. I've seen many people recommending both of them. [Update: I don't think Gordon is in this series after all, though I'm not convinced that it never was. I've found very little information online about this series.
The New American Commentary (NAC) series is a Broadman and Holman publication, and thus its commitments will reflect those of the current people behind that publisher, conservative Southern Baptists. Not every commentator in the series is a dispensationalist SBC type (e.g. a few are Reformed Baptists with other eschatological perspectives), but all volumes can be expected to affirm inerrancy and to have contemporary relevance in mind. The aim is to be mid-level, less depth than the New International Commentary series but much more expansive than the Tyndale series. Some of the volumes seem to leave much of the scholarship in footnotes and just give a running exposition. Others are more detailed in exegetical rigor in the main text. All are fairly readable to those without strong seminary training, and some are quite excellent, and most of them spend more time on theology than is common in more detailed series. The series is mostly complete now, with Exodus, Psalms, Zechariah, I Corinthians, Ephesians, and Hebrews and volume two of each of Genesis and Isaiah left to be published.
The New Cambridge Bible Commentaries (NCBC) have released three volumes so far, Judges and Ruth, James and Jude, and Revelation. My impression so far is that it's somewhat moderate in perspective and perhaps on the shorter end of mid-level commentaries. I suspect they were aiming for readability. I haven't looked much at any of them yet, so I have little else to say. Some of the projected authors are greatly respected, but I didn't get a strong sense of anything outstanding from the quick skimming I did through the ones that are out, not that that's a great sign.
The New Century Bible (NCB) series has a few standouts that are very well done. Most of them are fairly brief. Some explain the text and leave little room for much else, but others take the time to do a little more. Those that do more tend to focus on matters of less interest to the ordinary reader without academic training. All are at least somewhat brief, but the ones I've looked at are more intermediate level in terms of difficulty. The perspective tends to be moderate to liberal, with a few more conservative authors. Only a few will come with my recommendations.
The New International Biblical Commentary (NIBC) series is hard for me to place. It's not straightforwardly basic level, though it's brief. Its perspective is fairly moderate, a good number by conservative evangelicals but not by any means all. Some of the authors are more prone to emphasize matters I wouldn't consider best for a beginner level commentary, but most of the time they do well at sticking to basic topics. The series states that its purpose is to occupy a place between the extremes of not being able to find a meaning in the text and being too dogmatic on its interpretation. On some issues and in some valumes, it's too brief to count much more than a summary, but some volumes are quite excellent for what they do, and technical issues do show up, often as endnotes at the end of each chapter. Sometimes literary flow and theology will be emphasized. I'll only be highlighting a few volumes from the whole series as best buys, because I do tend to prefer volumes from other series in general for basic level commentaries.
The New International Commentaries on the New Testament (NICNT) and on the Old Testament (NICOT) are among my favorite series. Almost all the contributors are what I would consider conservative evangelicals, though occasionally some will take views that do seem only moderately conservative to some (e.g. Leslie Allen on Jonah argues that Jonah didn't happen historically but affirms inerrancy because he believes the book is a parable), but that's not standard for the series. I might consider some of the commentaries in this series to be the best out there on the book in question, e.g. Hubbard on Ruth, Waltke on Proverbs, Block on Ezekiel, Moo on Romans, and others are excellent as well, including Hamilton on Genesis, Wenham on Leviticus and Fee on I Corinthians and Philippians. Some forthcoming volumes should also be outstanding.
This series isn't quite as detailed as the most academic series, but it's fairly detailed, at least in the newer volumes. You might call it semi-technical. The footnotes often have the kind of detail you'd find in a more exclusively academic commentary. They try to restrict the text to transliteration of Hebrew and Greek for the sake of readability, and I think someone sufficiently committed to learning a lot about one book of the Bible might read through these cover to cover. I've read the volumes on Leviticus, Numbers, and Isaiah 1-39 myself, and I've read half of the Ruth volume and large sections of others. Of course I'll also read even more technical commentaries straight through, but I think these are a lot easier to handle for those accustomed to reading commentaries who still wouldn't read through the more detailed ones of other series.
The New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) is one of the best series on the New Testament. It's finally starting to come along after a slow start in the 80s. We still have Matthew, John, Acts, Romans, Ephesians, I Peter, II Peter and Jude, and I-III John to go, but I'd be very surprised if more than a few of those were left to go five years from now. It's at the author's discretion whether they translate the Greek, which is always handled in Greek font in this series. Some volumes are thus hard to read unless your Greek is very good. I have a hard time myself with Ellingworth on Hebrews, for instance, and I have three semesters of classical Greek behind me. It just helps so much when the Greek is translated in addition to appearing in Greek font, as Bruce's Galatians volume in this series does it. So it's hit or miss with that issue.
The academic respectability of this series is way at the top. Some of the volumes are by far the most significant academic work on their book, most notably Thiselton on I Corinthians and O'Brien on Philippians and arguably Harris on II Corinthians, all of which may be among the very best of any commentaries on any book. Others volumes are still very good. There isn't a bad volume in the series so far. Some focus less on explaining the text as they do on technical exegesis and background, but those ones are still excellent at what they do. The perspective tends to be moderate to conservative, with a fairly high percentage of thoroughgoing evangelicals contributing to the series. I consider James Dunn (who did Colossians and Philemon in this series) to be fairly left-wing on some issues with the New Perspective on Paul, but that's only one element of his work, but still it shows that it's not all conservatives writing in the series. Overall I still think it's one of the best series out there, and I expect to get most of the forthcoming volumes.
The NIV Application Commentaries (NIVAC) are truly of their own category. After what's usually a fairly brief exposition of what the text says in its original context, there's a section raising considerations on how we should bridge from that context to our own, and then a third section presents some ways to apply the text in our own context. This is an admirable aim, since it gives a model for how each person should be reading the Bible with an aim to applying it in our own contexts. The downside is that the author isn't in exactly our context, and we have to do that kind of work ourselves and not allow a commentary to do it for us, or else we won't have truly bridged the contextual gap from the text to our own context.
There's much of value in these commentaries, even if the commentary itself is fairly brief, since it's not really much briefer than most basic level commentaries, but the extra portions are extra help in matters that commentaries don't often deal with. With caution, they can be quite helpful. The NT is finished, with the OT coming along pretty quickly. Only Deuteronomy, Joshua, Kings, Ezra-Nehemiah, Job, Psalms 73-150, and Joel/Obadiah/Malachi remain in the forthcoming list.
The New Interpreter's Bible (NIB) is another series with multiple commentaries per volume. This can be advantageous if the ones in the given volume are mostly good, but it can be terrible if you just want one of them and have to pay for the others. Each volume is fairly expensive. Some of them do contain a number of good commentaries, though, so they might be worth it. I'd classify this as low-mid level in terms of depth. It's basically a technical exegesis and then a separate exposition, but the exegeis isn't the careful and detailed exegesis like what would be found in a more technical commentary.
The theological positions range from fairly moderate to fairly conservative, with the center of gravity somewhere a little left of center. However, the authors all seem to respect the authority of the text, even if their theological views tend to be less conservative. A lot of my exploration of various commentary series has been through checking books out of the library, and both libraries I have access to consider this series a reference work, which they don't do with other series, and thus I can't check the volumes out to review them more carefully. Some of the commentaries in this series come highly recommended by the resources I've looked at (see the previous post linked to at the top for a list of those resources). It seems to be a good, mainstream commentary series that gives a little more depth than some of the basic series but costs an arm and a leg. I suggest considering the volumes with a few good commentaries in them. As I go through different books of the Bible, I'll mention the NIB ones that are most recommended by others, even if I haven't looked at them closely myself.
The Old Testament Library (OTL) series has a long-standing tradition of providing historically-oriented commentary from the mainstream, academic perspective but with aim to being readable by those who don't know the original languages. Newer volumes may depart more radically from the kind of historical criticism that dominated the earlier ones, and the newer volumes tend to reflect the move in biblical scholarship toward more conservative attitudes with respect to historical and theological matters. Some of the newer volumes are also more concerned with theology than some of the older ones. Some volumes in this series are serious contenders for best commentaries on the books they cover, including most notably Childs on Exodus and Japhet on Chronicles. Other important ones include Blenkinsopp on Ezra-Nehemiah, Levenson on Esther, Clifford on Proverbs, Childs on Isaiah, Berlin on Lamentations, and Jeremias on Amos. The OTL series is almost complete, with just the Song of Songs to be completed. Some volumes are being replaced by newer ones, however. Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Isaiah, and Amos have already had replacements appear.
The New Testament Library series (NTL) has just recently begun. I believe the only published volumes are on II Corinthians and the Pastoral Epistles. I haven't looked at any of them, but they are probably of a similar mindset and level of detail to the OTL series.
The Pillar New Testament Commentaries (PNTC) series is one of my favorites. It started as a collection of independent commentaries with similar covers: Matthew and Romans by Leon Morris, John by D.A. Carson, and Revelation by Philip Edgcumbe Hughes. The Hughes volume was later discontinued, and Carson is planning to contribute his own Revelation commentary at some point to replace it. The volumes that have appeared since it became an official series are Douglas Moo on James, Colin Kruse on John's epistles, Peter O'Brien on Ephesians, Gene Green on Thessalonians, and James Edwards on Mark. Some of the forthcoming contracted volumes should be absolutely excellent. I'll probably end up with 75% of the series by the time they're done.
I'd place the series generally around the upper-mid level. Some of them aren't quite as detailed as the NICNT series (though some of the older NICOT volumes are about the same level. A few are detailed enough for me to count as good enough for full academic commentaries, though they're much more readable than most and nowhere near as detailed as the most detailed academic works. Much of the more technical material will be in footnotes even in those volumes, and Greek fonts are used only in footnotes by the authors who insist on using them (which is probably a minority of those who contribute to the series so far). The perspective is solidly evangelical, and there's an insistence on real interaction with the best of scholarship, evangelical or not. Contributors are fairly conservative theologically, and most refuse to give theology short shrift as in many academic commentaries. Inerrancy is assumed, but in many cases interpretations inconsistent with inerrancy will be presented (and usually responded to) just because such interpretations are common.
The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC) and Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC) are some of the best basic level commentaries out there. The perspective is fairly conservative and clearly evangelical, and the intent is to package careful research into a popular-level commentary that can be read cover to cover fairly easily by someone with no background in academic work in biblical studies. It's not as basic as the NIVAC or BST series, which means it's more helpful to someone seeking a little more reasoning behind the exegesis and interpretation taken in the commentary. Many of the authors are top scholars who have also written detailed commentaries, usually on other books.
A few volumes stand out as particularly excellent. All of the ones by Joyce Baldwin are great (Samuel, Esther, Daniel, Haggai-Zechariah-Malachi). Selman's two volumes on Chronicles and Hubbard's lengthy volume on Hosea were allowed far more space than normally happens in this series. Colin Kruse's new one on John is the best basic level commentary on John, and John Stott's volume on I-III John is probably the same for that book. I've seen some refer to I. Howard Marshall on Acts as the best commentary in the series, though I think I'd reserve that for Stott's. Derek Kidner did some fine work for this series too (Genesis, Ezra-Nehemiah, Psalms, Proverbs), though his are probably among the most dated in the series.
The Word Biblical Commentaries (WBC) are an unusual commentary series. They're supposed to be combining an academic approach, based in the original languages with full original language fonts, with an evangelical approach. The reality is less clear. Some of the volumes are less detailed than others, though all do use the original language fonts. The evangelicalism of this series varies considerably depending on the author. Some are clearly theological conservatives who hold to some form of inerrancy. Others don't seem to me to be evangelicals even by a reasonable stretch of the term. They say each author needs to hold to evangelicalism by a fairly loose interpretation of the term, but I think the editors are so loose with it that it's ceased to have any meaning. Some of the volumes are accordingly far removed from what most evangelicals are looking for. Others are solidly conservative and consider the kinds of questions people of faith rather than historians and scholars will ask. I consider Wenham on Genesis, Williamson on Ezra-Nehemiah, O'Brien on Colossians and Philemon, and Lane on Hebrews as the best commentaries on those books, hands down, and Clines on Job, Craigie on Psalms 1-50, Stuart on Hosea-Jonah, Longenecker on Galatians, Lincoln on Ephesians, Mounce on the Pastoral Epistles, and Bauckham on II Peter and Jude are among the very best on those books. The series is nearing completion. Judges, Job 21-42, Acts, and I Corinthians remain vacant, though Numbers has been contracted to be replaced, and Psalms 1-50 will be revised by Marvin Tate, since Craigie is deceased).
The format of the series gets mixed reviews. Some find it extremely helpful by separating different aspects of what a commentary does into different sections. Others find it incredibly annoying. I'm in the latter camp. It's hard to find anything, because you have to look at three or four different sections sometimes, only to find that it's not covered at all in some cases. In a normal commentary, you just look under the verse in question, and if it's not there you know fairly quickly. The bibliographies get the most credit from reviewers, because they're ridiculously comprehensive, but I think they're one of the biggest weaknesses of the series. They're so scattered. There's no central bibliography, and the author indexes aren't compiled very well. There are no footnotes, so every reference occurs in text, but the references are always author and date after the first reference, and it's usually very difficult to find the first reference. I've tried to find references to certain authors, and a number of page references the index says to look at won't even discuss that author, or the first appearance of that author isn't in the index at all so I won't find the full bibliographic information. If they had real bibliographies instead of scattterd mini-biographies, it would be much more helpful. The reviewers constantly say the series is great for the bibliographies, but having such comprehensive bibliographies scattered throughout the book is pretty useless if the index doesn't tell you where the reference you're looking for is. Some of the volumes in this series are excellent, but they're good in spite of the absolutely horrendous format and not because of it.
The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary series (WEC) was short-lived but produced some good commentaries at the mid-level from an evangelical perspective. They had six volumes that I know of, R.K. Harrison on Numbers, Thomas Finley on Joel, Amos, and Obadiah, Richard Patterson on Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, Eugene Merrill on Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, Douglas Moo on Romans 1-8, and Moises Silva on Philippians. Silva has reworked his Philippians into the BECNT format, which has just come out within the past few weeks. Moo reworked and expanded his to the whole book and into the NICNT format. The three on minor prophets have been rereleased within the last year. I haven't seen the Numbers one selling new anywhere.
Finley and Patterson are widely hailed as the best evangelical commentaries on those minor prophets, though I think Gary Smith might be competition on Amos. Because the NT volumes have been improved, there's no point in finding them used, but the other ones all have good value still, especially Finley and Patterson.
Well, there we go. There are some series that I might end up mentioning in the posts on individual books that aren't here, but I thought of them too late to work in properly given my scheme. In case you didn't notice, I managed to cover every book of the Bible with the pictures I used, and there aren't any repeats if I did it right. I'm just in trouble if I have to update the post with new series.