Top 40 Resources (Or So) For an Exegetically-Minded Preacher to Buy (Pt. 3): Commentary Series

By: Bruce Riley Ashford & Grant Taylor

The first two installments of this series dealt with exegetical tools and dictionaries to aid the preacher in moving from text to sermon. This installment treats commentaries, which  are the heart of every pastor and teacher’s library. Rather than discuss the best individual commentaries on specific books (which would take a while), we provide below three or four helpful commentary sets for each testament. Although every commentary series is “uneven,” with certain volumes being better than others, we have tried to select series in which many or most of the volumes are marked by reliability, sound exegesis, readability, and help for preaching.

Old Testament

1. New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT). An established series for good reason. The authors provide a detailed exegesis of the text, and do so in a fairly lucid manner. Waltke on Proverbs and Oswalt on Isaiah are two standouts in this series. Intermediate.

2. Word Biblical Commentary (WBC). Marked by some excellent individual commentaries (e.g., Wenham on Genesis and Stuart on Hosea-Jonah), this series allows the reader to engage the biblical text, introductory matters, and further reading (each major section includes a bibliography) for every biblical book. Advanced.

3. Tyndale Old Testament Commentary Series (TOTC). Concise but spot-on in most cases, this set gets one quickly into the meaning and implications of a given text. This would be a great (and affordable) series to own in full if you want to have a complete set. Basic-Intermediate.

4. Preaching the Word (also for NT below). Edited by Kent Hughes, this series is written by preachers for preachers. Each volume makes the connection between exposition and preaching providing a model for its readers. Basic.

New Testament

1. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Rigorous exegesis by seasoned scholars with explicit evangelical commitments. This is also one of the best-designed, easy-to-read series as it includes intro matters, then each commentator’s translation, commentary, and textual notes for every passage. Very reliable. Intermediate-Advanced.

2. Pillar New Testament Commentary. This series includes some standards for evangelical commentaries (Carson on John; O’Brien on Ephesians) and provides a very readable format. For instance, there are very few footnotes. Yet, it is also a rigorous series including detailed but clear introductory sections that set the context for each book. Intermediate to Advanced.

3. New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT). Edited by Gordon Fee, this is another established commentary series that is now being updated for some volumes (e.g. J.R. Michaels on John [2010] replacing Leon Morris [1995]). Standouts include Moo on Romans and Bruce on Hebrews. Intermediate to Advanced.

4. G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old. Not a series, but almost functions like one. Written by NT scholars on the OT quotations and allusions found in NT books, this volume has a fairly high level of sophistication. This commentary is worth having for the bibliographies alone. Advanced.

  1 Comment

  1. Curtis J. Dupree   •  

    Great list and a great idea for a series. I would probably add:

    The New American Commentary (for both OT and NT). Intermediate.

    The New International Greek Testament Commentary (for the NT, obviously). Advanced.

    These are two I’ve found quite helpful.

    Once again, excellent series!

    Grace and Peace,

    curtis j. dupree

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