The Best One-Volume Bible Commentary — The New Bible Commentary

As a pastor and teacher in the church, folks often ask me for suggestions on useful resources to help them understand the Bible.

The amount of books being written today on how to read and understand the Bible, however, can be rather dizzying. It’s a great blessing to have such an extent of literature and resources available to us. But what if someone is not as acquainted with these things? How does one even know where to start? How does one know what’s good and what isn’t? Or even if I am able to determine what’s valuable, maybe I’m not the sort of person who intends on building a massive library. What if I just want to acquire a handful of really helpful books that cover a large stretch of Biblical material?

If that describes you (or maybe even if it doesn’t*), I want to recommend to you The New Bible Commentary (NBC), 21st Century Edition.

The New Bible Commentary

Voted one of Christianity Today’s 1995 Books of the Year, The New Bible Commentary is a one-volume commentary on the entire Bible. It’s one volume, in other words, that contains 66 individual commentaries for each book of the Bible.

The NBC is thoroughly evangelical in outlook. It’s edited by D.A. Carson, R. T. France, J. Alec Motyer, and Gordon J. Wenham, and has contributors from top-notch evangelical scholars like T.D. Alexander, Bruce Waltke, Derek Kidner, Moises Silva, Christopher Wright, Doug Moo, Leon Morris, Howard Marshall, and many others.

And that’s actually one of the unique advantages of a work like The New Bible Commentary. Many comparable resources and study Bibles, which also seek to cover the whole of scripture, are often times written by just one author, maybe a popular pastor. Without dismissing the value of those other works, the advantage of the NBC, however, is that rather than getting the opinion of author who undoubtedly does not possess specialization on every book of the Bible, with the NBC you get a full roster of specialists. The NBC contains a collection of scholars who each write on their particular area of expertise. In other words, you’re always reading from someone who actually specializes in the subject at hand.

The NBC is incredibly accessible. Any believer, no matter what their skill level, should be able to pick up this book and gain from it. The NBC provides commentary on each section of scripture, and supples helpful explanation of all major interpretive issues in a passage. At the same time, it strives to remain concise and succinct, not getting bogged down in overly-technical and lengthy discussion.

Each commentary begins with introductory material about the book’s author, date, setting, outline, major themes, and much more. In addition, the NBC includes articles on Biblical history, how to read and understanding the Bible, as well as briefs on the nature of specific Biblical genres like poetry, the epistles, and apocalyptic literature.

Logos Bible Software

Logos Bible Software is the primary tool I use for collecting my books and doing in-depth Bible study. As such, my particular version of the NBC is owned in my Logos Bible Software.

I recommend Logos Bible Software for anyone looking to do serious study of the Bible. There are many advantages to owning a book in Logos over buying just a regular physical copy. As the Logos website explains, a book in Logos becomes more than just a book; it becomes “a robust resource that works dynamically with every other book in your library. Each resource is packed with tags and hyperlinks, serving as a gateway to an entire world of textual and visual resources. This network effect dramatically boosts the value of each book.” In other words, it becomes more than just a book; it becomes a piece of a whole, high-powered Bible study system. –This in addition to the advantages that come with any ebook: easily portable, searchable, editable notations and note taking (copy and paste function), etc.

Of course their are downsides to electronic books — no doubt. But there are also a ton of positives, and, as noted, even more so in the case of Logos.

Anyone can get Logos for free here (this free package includes 20+ free books, with resources valued at over $1,500)… yeah, all free. And then you can buy the NBC to have added to your Logos library here.

As an official partner with Logos, I’m also able to offer highest rate discounts on all base packages if you actually want to purchase something with even more resources — like the current Fundamentals Base Package, which includes the NBC.

Use my special partner code KIRK8 at checkout for all purchases.

Further Info

For many years I recommended the old New Bible Commentary as the best of its kind on the market. I expect to find myself saying the same of this new work that replaces it.

—J. I. Packer, author of Knowing God

  • 21st Century Edition.
  • InterVarsity Press, 1994.
  • 1,455 pages.

Notes:

  • Even if you are someone like me who buys a lot of commentaries and more in-depth resources, I still recommend considering the NBC. I frequently use the NBC in my Bible study and sermon preparation, alongside more lengthy, technical resources for its succinct overview of a passage and its major interpretive issues.

Full disclosure: I received compensation in exchange for this review. However, that compensation did not impact the content of this review.

Dwell — A Scripture Listening App


Update: Since writing this post, I’ve become an official partner with Dwell, and am able to offer a 33% discount to all readers of this blog.


We live in a location and age where we have more access to the Bible than ever before. The entirety of the scripture is available to anyone with internet access. We can pull up the Bible on our iPhones with the simple touch of our passcode. And, of course, if we get “old school,” there’s printed Bibles. Some have estimated that there are upwards to 450 English translations of the Bible! And let’s not forget, before the invention of the printing press and the Protestant Reformation, which took strides towards putting God’s Word into people hands, this sort of access was unprecedented.

However, many folks today still struggle to read their Bible with any sort of regularity. A common refrain, probably the most commonly claimed hurdle: “I don’t have enough time.” We’re too busy (which is code for the fact that we fail to prioritize our time in God’s Word).

Audio Bibles are an incredible aid here, and a great supplement to needed “deep dive” time in the Word. With audio Bibles, you can listen to the Bible on your commute to work, while mowing the yard, or doing the dishes. And when you consider, that for a significant portion of church history, a primary way many people accessed their Bible was by hearing others read it to them (many christians haven’t been privileged enough to own their own personal Bibles), audio Bibles are a rather fitting and historically normal medium for Bible intake.

However, if you’re like me — a visual learner, who struggles retaining information or keeping focus while listening to things — you’ve probably found most audio versions of the Bible out there to be too unengaging and drab to be helpful. It’s like they lack personality. Or if they do have some personality, they’re melodramatic, awkward, or come in inconvenient formats (e.g., CD’s).

Enter the new scripture listening app, Dwell.

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Goodreads Review of Jonathan Pennington’s Reading the Gospels Wisely

Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological IntroductionReading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction by Jonathan T. Pennington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic book. Pennington not only serves up good, thoughtful, precise, and insightful scholarship and guidance on reading the Gospels well, but he does so in an incredibly engaging, enjoyable, and understandable manner. I highly recommend this book for any serious student and/or teacher of the Bible wanting to increase his or her reading of, not only the gospels, but all Biblical narrative.

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How CBS’s Living Biblically Presents Biblical Living

I just finished watching the first episode of the new show Living Biblically (you can watch it online here).

Inevitably, whenever shows like this come out, people will ask me what I think. Normally I don’t care enough to watch them. But this time I did.

I’ve typed out my gut reactions below.

Prefacing Caveats

First, some caveats.

  • Like I said, these are just gut reactions (I literally just finished the episode minutes ago). So, this isn’t some in-depth piece where I’ve carefully analyzed or re-watched the episode multiple times. So, don’t over-scrutinize my review here. This is pretty casual.
  • Second, I imagine there’s going to be a lot of hate thrown at this show from Christians (there always is with these things; and a lot of times, to be fair, the critiques are justified). But I’m not trying to add to that chorus here. My guts reactions below do focus on critique. But don’t assume that because that’s all I talk about here, that this is the whole story. I’m sure there’s a lot of benefit and good that can come from a show like this, e.g., opportunity to dialogue about faith.
  • Third, these gut reactions are only based on having watched the initial episode. So, I understand that more story development will take place, which would potentially answer and inform my reactions below. So, my reactions are necessarily limited. (But I probably won’t watch the other episodes, ’cause I just don’t care enough about this.)

Gut Reactions

So, without further ado, here are my gut reactions. They focus specifically on how Living Biblically portrays biblical living (and/or Christianity?). What does it truly mean to live Biblically? And does the show accurately represent that?

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Goodreads Reviews of The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the GardenThe Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is really good.

DeYoung tells scripture’s overarching storyline of creation lost and to creation regained. As such, he gives specific attention to the promises of new-creation, with specific emphasis on their realization through a new Adam, an Abrahamic offspring, and a king from David’s line. This book will help children understand the Old Testament in light of the covenant promises, and understand Christ as the fulfillment of theses OT promises — the one who resolved the disobedience of God’s people, and who bears their curse, reversing the curse brought on by Adam and recapitulated with Israel under the Law.

The illustrations are also superb.

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