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.

Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Commentaries

This post is a re-blog of my post at Rolfing Unshelved.


This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description of Commentaries

A Biblical Commentary is a book that provides an interpretive explanation of a Biblical book or books. Commentaries provide a detailed explanation of specific Biblical passages, an explanation of a Biblical book’s larger structure or argument, and typically engage with introductory matters such as authorship, audience, date of writing, purpose of writing, composition, etc.

Best Commentaries

The following was originally composed for publication at Rolfing Library. I have added here a brief note of introduction.


Introductory notes:

  • The following list of commentaries was composed using a variety of reliable sources. Therefore, this final product is the result of a collaboration of various reliable opinions. I have only interacted with a small percentage of these commentaries. My opinion and experience is a factor at times. But for the most part, I relied on the opinion of others.
  • I composed the following list for my reference job at Trinity International University’s (of which Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is a part) Rolfing Memorial Library. In other words, this list was created for academic use. Priority was given to commentaries which are more technical in nature. Although I am an evangelical, priority was not necessarily awarded based on evangelical conclusions. Quality commentaries of more liberal bent are also included. In light of these two realities, the nature of this list will best serve students and pastors. Nonetheless, a variety of commentary types were included (e.g., critical, technical, pastoral, devotional, etc.). Less technical, more devotional commentaries were included when they received significantly high reviews.
  • I attempted to provide 4-6 commentaries per book. Variation exists due to how many ‘stand out’ commentaries exist per book. Deviation from this 4-6 amount norm occurs with the inclusion of commentaries that only cover certain portions of a biblical book (e.g., see the commentaries listed under “Psalms”).
  • Library of Congress call numbers (e.g., BS1235.3 .W46x v.1 1987) are included since I made this list for library use. I have decided not to take the time to remove them.
  • This list was completed on 7.17.2014. Commentaries published after this date were not considered in the formation of this list.

OLD TESTAMENT

Pentateuch

Genesis
  • Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1-15 and Genesis 16-50. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco: Word Books, 1987 and 1994. (BS1235.3 .W46x v.1 1987 and BS1235.3 .W462x v.2 1994)
  • Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17 and The Book of Genesis: Chapters 18-50.The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990 and 1995. (BS1235.3 .H32 1990 and BS1235.3 .H323 1995)
  • Westermann, Claus. Genesis 1-11, Genesis 12-36, and Genesis 37-50. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984-1986. (BS1235.3 .W4413 1984, BS1235.3 .W44313 1985, and BS1235.3 .W3713 1986)
  • Mathews, Kenneth. Genesis 1- 11:26 and Genesis 11:27-50:26. American Commentary. Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 1996 and 2005. (BS1235.3 .M37 1995)
  • Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis: A Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001. (BS1235.53 .W34x 2001)

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Help! What Commentary Should I Use? (Pt. 2)

This post was originally published at Rolfing Unshelved, a blog of the university library for which I work as a reference assistant.


 

JoshuaCommentaries

We’ve all been there. Staring at a wall of Rolfing’s amazing collection of commentaries (or scrolling through an endless list of commentaries on TrinCat) and feeling bombarded, overwhelmed, and not sure where to start. Choosing commentaries can be tough — but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips on choosing the right commentary.

Note the type

There are many types of commentaries out there, e.g., expositional, devotional, technical, etc. So, first, know what kind of commentary for which you are looking; and, second, find that kind of commentary. Don’t expect Derek Kidner’s Proverbs commentary to be super technical. And don’t expect Michael Fox’s to be filled with pastoral insights and implications. Know what you are trying to find; and restrict your selection accordingly.

Continue reading

Help! What Commentary Should I Use? (Pt. 1)

This post was originally published at Rolfing Unshelved, a blog of the university library for which I work as a reference assistant.


 

JoshuaCommentaries

I was in college when I first began using commentaries. I was rather aimless, didn’t have much help or guidance, and just sort of jumped in. Maybe that’s been your experience as well.

The whole process of learning about commentaries is sort of like a circle — There’s no obvious starting point. You just have to enter somewhere, learn from your mistakes, and figure things out as you go. In one sense, the best way to get to know commentaries is to just use them.

But the process doesn’t have to be that aimless. Your entrance into the world of commentaries doesn’t have to be as abrupt as mine was.

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