Friday, December 28, 2018

Modern-day Bible Commentary Sets (Reboot/2018)

The original 2015 article can be read here, fwiw.

I certainly prefer the older commentaries any day over the newer ones, but I do look at newer commentaries when studying the Bible. These are modern-day commentary sets that I have found to be useful. As usual, Bible commentaries are the last step or final consultation after one has done his own study of the Bible text. In the end, their comments are as good as yours, except that they bring a wealth of studied insights into cultural, historical, linguistic, and theological perspectives. However, when the commentary contradicts plainly what the Bible says or teaches, then we correct the commentary and not the Bible. Purchasing an entire set is expensive and often not the best way to obtain a good library. Sets produced by multiple contributors cannot be uniform, therefore, some authors/titles naturally exceed others making their works distinguished, however, I do not intend to single out any particular recommendations in this article. My short list of recommended modern-day Bible commentaries reflect those that are generally accepted by the wider conservative evangelical readership. It is no surprise to find views that either implicitly or explicitly espouse higher and/or lower text criticisms. This is the scourge on scholasticism which was brought about the Enlightenment period and has metastasized into post-post modernity. Thankfully, the Bible itself having been providentially preserved by God allows us to know how to decipher truth from error. And now onto the sets:

Crossway Classic Commentaries (CCC; Crossway; J.I. Packer/A. McGrath). Edited for popular readership, but still good. Reformed. How they manage to crunch Owen’s 11 Vol. on Hebrews into one volume is mysterious. Adapted/abridged for wide-spread readership of the classics. (1993 – 2001)

Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC; Zondervan; F.E. Gaebelein). 12 vol. set, 1970-80’s. Has a one volume set, not recommended: “The NIV Bible Commentary.” The entire set was based on the NIV but had some excellent works and not so excellent contributions, too. Hints of higher criticism pepper this work. Tends toward pre-millennialism (that’s a good thing).

Expositor’s Bible Commentary Revised Edition (EBCR; Zondervan; T. Longman III/D Garland). Similar to above except newer. (2005)

New American Commentary (NAC; Broadman & Holman; E. R. Clendenen, gen. ed.) – NIV based, Southern Baptist. (1991 - )

New International Commentary O.T./N.T. (NICOT/NICNT; Eerdmans) – most recommended by the broader evangelical camp. (1970 - )

NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC; Zondervan) – user friendly. Attempts to deal with the text in context and make current/relevant applications (“bridging the gap”). Contributors theological perspective peppers this work. (1994 - )

New Testament Commentary (NTC; Baker; Hendricksen/Kistamaker) – Expository, Interesting takes on theologically loaded terms. Useful insights on culture. Reformed. (ca. 2002)

Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC; Eerdmans; Carson) – similar to NICNT. Focused on exegesis (critical text, though) and theology. Very little application. Technical discussions land in the footnotes on purpose. (ca. 2013)

Preaching the Word (PTW; Crossway; R. Kent Hughes, gen. ed.) – Modern-day devotional/Homiletical commentary. Verbose but good. Master wordsmiths, many useful illustrations. (1990 – 2013)

Reformed Expository Commentary (REC; P&R; Ryken, etc.) – similar to PTW (Hughes). Modern-day devotional commentary. (2005 – 2013)

Tyndale O.T. and N.T. Commentaries (TOTC/TNTC; IVP & Eerdmans; Wiseman &) – worthy set from (1964 - ) .A major rework was accomplished. Expositional, critical text advocates, but useful. (2004)

Word Communicator’s Commentary (WCC; Nelson, prev. Word) – mixed bag. Useful for sermon prep. Esp. with introducing a text or segues.  Renamed: The Preacher’s Commentary (1990).

Welwyn Commentary Series. (WCS; Evangelical Press, Britain) – easy read, practical for Pastors and Sunday School teachers. (1979 – 2011)

Single-Author sets:

Analytical Bible Expositor (27 vol.) – (Scripture Truth Book Company) – by John G. Butler – Expositional annotations, great outlines, practical applications. This set comes from a Fundamental Baptist perspective. (2018)

Bible Exposition Commentary (IVP; Warren Wiersbe). N.T. “Be series” included. Popular and useful. (2007 – 2009)

Boice’s Expositional Commentaries (27 Vol.) – (JMBEC; Baker Books; James M. Boice). – Easy read, but great lessons, illustrations, & applications. (1972 – 2001)

Daily Study Bible (N.T. 18 Vol.) by William Barclay. – Insights into culture and applications abound. Weakness is liberal/critical interpretations with the four gospels. (Westminster John Knox Press; ca. 1993).

John Phillips Commentary Series – (27 Vol.) – (Kregel pub.) - Excellent for pastors and teachers. Helpful outlines and great illustrations. (ca. 1970, republished around 2001).

Interpretation of the New Testament – (14 vols.) also known as Lenski’s Commentary on the N.T. (Augsburg; R.C.H. Lenski). [ca. 1930] – classic conservative Lutheran commentary, but a critical text proponent. $$$ but insightful. (1934 – 2008)

Understanding the Bible (11 Vol.) – (Northstar Ministries; David Sorenson) – Top-flight set from an Independent, Fundamental, Baptist perspective. Dispensationalist/KJB-based. If you must have a set, this is one to get. (2005)

Single-Volume sets:

Baker Commentary on the Bible by Walter Elwell. - based on the NIV. (Baker Books; 2000)

Bible Believer’s Commentary: 2nd Edition by William McDonald. (Thomas Nelson; 2016) – evangelical, dispensational.

Bible Knowledge Commentary: O.T & N.T. by John Walvoord/Roy Zuck. (Victor Books; 1985) – dispensational.

IVP Bible Background Commentary: O.T. (John Walton, 2000) and N.T. (Craig Keener, 2nd edition, 2014) – helpful insights into culture, and history. (IVP Academic)

Select titles:

I would like to see David Cloud and Thomas Strouse produce more Bible Commentaries. Bro. Cloud comes from an Fundamentalist Baptist perspective and his materials reads more like a pastoral commentary, and Bro. Strouse comes from a Biblicist Baptist perspective and his commentaries reads more like a technical commentary. Their respective commentaries can be viewed in their web-pages look up Way of Life for Cloud and Bible Baptist Publications for Strouse. It appears that they are both involved in on-going writing projects. Also, I want to mention that select verse-by-verse commentaries are authored by Donald Waite (Bible for Today), an Independent, Fundamental, Baptist well-known for his defense of the King James Bible and its traditional text basis. Beyond this listing, I also want to mention the works of E.L. Bynum, Robert Sargent & Gary Prisk, Stewart Custer, D. Edmond Hiebert, and Homer Kent, Jr. - these names have written Bible commentaries and/or similar works or studies on individual Bible books. They do not share the same Biblical/Theological perspectives among each other but they are commendable in their research, insights, and materials.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Recommendations for Personal Devotional Readings

(These recommendations are arranged in no particular order)

The Poor Man’s Morning and Evening Portions by Robert Hawker

               “There is always such a savor of the Lord Jesus Christ in Dr. Hawker that you cannot read him without profit.” (C.H. Spurgeon on Hawker in Commenting and Commentaries). There’s just no better description of Hawker’s writings and this devotional delivers just that. The earliest publication that I could find was in 1845. No doubt there are several editions available whether in print or online. Hawker was an ordained Anglican priest, but his devotional surpasses the spirituality of contemporary Protestantism. It is a great thing that the “Enlightenment” bore zero influence over his writings. I doubt very many devotionals, if any, could ever match Hawker’s Christ-centered meditations.

Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

                Need I say more? Originally written to aid in the family altar, this devotional was first published in 1865.  “Morning by Morning,” and “Evening by Evening” were two separate books but thankfully, they are combined, and some editions are even updated for an easier reading experience. Spurgeon was a Particular Baptist pastor, and prolific writer. His devotional is very similar to Hawkers and is just as spiritually enriching.

Voices from the Past Vol. 1 by Richard Rushing

                Rushing has done a masterful job compiling materials from 23 Puritans. He edited and arranged their writings for a daily devotional reading. Here is a modern masterpiece (published in 2009 by Banner of Truth) of great meditations from those who sought to “purify the Church of England.” I have not read the sequel but if it is like the treasury of vol. 1, I have no reason to think it would disappoint.

Daily Light (New Testament readings) and Morning Light (Old Testament readings) by Dave Olson

                Olson’s works are extremely helpful for every Christian. Both devotionals are loaded with practical insights that edify the believer towards godliness. The recommended Bible reading portions built into the devotionals will allow the reader to read through the Bible in proportion throughout the year. It is published by Dave Olson is an independent Baptist, and he serves the missions director at Fairhaven Baptist Church, Chesterton, IN. He also teaches in the church’s Bible College.

The Two Year Bible Reading Plan by Jeff Voegtlin

                Jeff Voegtlin's Two Year Bible reading plan infuses a great daily dose of the O.T. and N.T. in a paragraph format with minor editing for ease of reading. Besides reading online, anyone can receive an email feed of this reading plan by signing up on his website (click on the Reading tab). Jeff Voegtlin is an independent Baptist, and serves as Associate Pastor of Fairhaven Baptist Church, Chesterton, IN and Dean of Education in the church's Bible College.

Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden by Charles Spurgeon

                This book is a storehouse of both spiritual and practical instructions cloaked in word-pictures or illustrations. Spurgeon would read Thomas Manton's sermons and other writings and be constantly struck with his "solid, sensible instruction forcibly delivered." And beside Manton's highlighted excerpts, the Prince of Preachers would add his own thoughts, making this Puritan Paperback a double-masterpiece. It is illustrations, meditations, prayers, admonitions, exhortations that provide so much reflection as multifarious as a well-kept garden. Originally published back in 1883 but re-published and edited for ease of reading in 2017 by the Banner of Truth.