Top 40 Resources (Or So) For an Exegetically-Minded Preacher to Buy (Pt. 1): Hebrew and Greek Tools

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By: Bruce Riley Ashford & Grant Taylor

A while back, BtT posted a brief list of “Top 25 Books (Or So) For a Young Theologian to Buy (And Read).” At the request of some of our readers, we are following up on that post by providing a list of helpful resources for exegetically- and theologically-minded preachers. We will post the list over four days, but before we give the first installment of the list, here are a few prefatory comments.

First, we focus this list on exegetical tools (Hebrew and Greek), dictionaries (OT, NT, and whole Bible), commentary series (OT and NT), and big-picture tools (OT, NT, and whole Bible). We’ve left out numerous fine books that fall in other categories (hermeneutics, preaching, etc.).

Second, we include books that are written at different levels of accessibility, and we try to note this by flagging certain books as basic, intermediate, or advanced.

Third, we encourage the young preacher to begin building a library that eventually will provide most of the tools he needs to teach from any text of Scripture. This type of library is one way in which the preacher can be ready to preach “in season and out.”

Fourth, we encourage the young preacher to take this sort of books seriously, and allow them to drive him back into the biblical text, reading it slowly, patiently, and receptively. The best books are those that drive us back into the Scriptures and enable us to read the Scriptures more fruitfully. The worst books are those that seek to replace Scripture, or that somehow encourage us to bypass hard work in the text.

Fifth, we’d like to hear your thoughts about what you would have included that we left out, and maybe what we included that you would have left out. We started out aiming to provide 25 recommendations, but ended up exceeding our own limit.

Below is the first installment of the list—Hebrew and Greek exegetical tools.

Exegetical Tools (Hebrew)

1. Allen P. Ross, Introducing Biblical Hebrew. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Ross’s Hebrew grammar is one of the best tools to begin learning the language. He clearly explains the major and several minor features of biblical Hebrew, and includes his own parsing system for Hebrew verbs. Beginner-Intermediate.

2. Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1990. A very helpful reference work for studying Hebrew syntax, which is essential because phrases and sentences (rather than words) give the basic level of meaning. Waltke and O’Connor supplement (not replace) older grammars such as GKC (Gesenius) with clear explanations that helps students move from interpreting easier genres such as narrative to more difficult ones such as prophecy or the Psalms. Intermediate.

3. Willem A. VanGemeran, ed. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, 5 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997. (NIDOTTE) Word studies alone do not a complete exegesis make, but without them no exegesis is complete. VanGemeren (with contributions by numerous OT experts) provides a very reliable, precise resource helpful for preaching and teaching. If you know the Hebrew root, you can see the word’s usage in its ANE and OT settings and the theological implications for hundreds of key Hebrew words. Intermediate-Advanced.

4. Douglas K. Stuart, Old Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors. Fourth Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. In this book Stuart helps preachers and teachers put the essential parts of exegesis together into a whole. How do those word studies relate to syntax and the genre of the book you are studying? Stuart’s work will help you find the way. Intermediate.

5. F. Brown, S.R. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1996. (BDB) The standard (reprinted several times) lexicon for study of OT Hebrew and Aramaic words. While the print is frustrating at times, this remains a basic resource for Hebrew and OT study. Basic-Intermediate.

Exegetical Tools (Greek)

1. David Alan Black, Learn to Read New Testament Greek, exp. ed. (Nashville: B&H, 1994). Black’s introductory text teaches Greek in a manner that is as non-technical as possible. He also provides learning exercises that draw the beginning student into the process of learning Greek. Beginner.

2. F.W. Danker, ed. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Revised. Third Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. (BDAG) Like BDB for Greek, but better. The third edition includes the history of classical Greek usage, semantic domains (ranges of meaning) with definitions in the NT, and early Christian usage for the same words. In sum, a must-have for serious study of the NT. Advanced.

3. Gordon D. Fee, New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors. Third Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002. The New Testament counterpart to Stuart above, Fee helps students learn how to connect word studies with sentence diagramming and sentence diagramming with teaching or preaching. A very helpful “how-to” guide to reading the Greek NT well. Intermediate.

4. Dan Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996. This is the follow-up to William H. Mounce’s The Basics of Biblical Greek (the one to get if you are just beginning). Wallace’s Beyond the Basics goes well beyond them by providing major categories of interpretation for all the major components of NT Greek. Advanced.

5. Maximilian Zerwick, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. Subsidia Biblica. 5th Edition. Translated by M. Grovesnor. Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 2010; and Maximilian Zerwick, Biblical Greek: Illustrated by Examples. Adapted from Fourth Latin Edition. Rome: Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1963. A couple of oldies but goodies. Zerwick’s Grammatical Analysis provides a parsing and lexical analysis to every book of the NT. It is also keyed to his grammar, Biblical Greek, which wonderfully illustrates the major components of NT Greek, like Wallace but with fewer sub-categories and far fewer pages. Intermediate-Advanced.

6. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Raymond Bouchoc, The Book Study Concordance of the Greek New Testament. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2003. Organized by biblical book rather than by Greek word, this is an invaluable tool for exegetical and expositional preaching and teaching as it allows one to see the emphases and distinctions of biblical authors through the quantity and contextual use of their vocabulary. Intermediate.

Excited To Announce The Launch of “Christ-Centered Exposition:” Exalting Jesus In Every Book Of The Bible

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At the SBC in Phoenix last year, David Platt, Tony Merida and I sat down with the great folks at Broadman & Holman to dream and brainstorm about the possibility of an expositor’s preaching commentary that would be both expositional and Christ-centered. In other words we talked about how faithful, verse by verse, exposition of the whole Bible could properly point to Christ as Jesus Himself taught us in text like John 5:39, Luke 24:25-27 and Luke 24:44-47. Well, that vision has come to fruition.

In the spring 2013 the 1st of a 40 volume preacher’s commentary entitled “Christ-Centered Exposition” will be published. David Platt, Tony Merida and I have the great honor of serving as the editors of the project as well as authoring together the first volume. The initial volume will be “Exalting Jesus in the Pastoral Epistles.” David will produce 1 Timothy, Tony will write 2 Timothy and I will pen Titus. The goal is for the entire series to be complete in 10 years! We certainly need your prayers for that goal to be met!!!

By God’s grace we have enlisted an incredible array of contributors for the series. We thought you might be encouraged and excited by the list of authors who are currently assigned to help us in this significant project, so I have listed them below. It will be apparent that the authors are all committed evangelicals, the majority are Southern Baptists, and most are on the younger side when it comes to age. That was by intention. Further, the Southern Baptists contributors represent the healthy diversity of theological perspectives that exist within our convention of churches within the parameters of the BF&M 2000. And, 6 of the contributors are African-Americans which is a real plus in my judgment.

Now, we recognize in a project of this magnitude there may be some adjustments along the way, but as of today those are the men who will participate and the book(s) they have been assigned.

Our goals in all of this are several. Above all we want to exalt and honor King Jesus. Second, we want to model faithful, biblical exposition. In this context we are excited to show the appropriate differences that exist within in this preaching model. Third, we want a strong missional thread running throughout the series. Building Christ’s Church and extending the gospel to all the nations will be a consistent focus of this series. Finally, for all who preach and teach the Bible, it is our hope and prayer you will be helped in your own ministry of the Word. These are exciting days for the Church of the Lord Jesus. The faithful preaching of His Word, as always, is essential to the health and vibrancy of His Body. May our Lord by His grace and for His glory, use this series for the fame of His Name and the great good of His people.

                                      The Old Testament

Genesis  Volume I Russ Moore
Genesis Volume II Russ Moore
Exodus Tony Merida
Leviticus Allan Moseley
Numbers David Prince
Deuteronomy Al Mohler
Joshua Robert Smith
Judges / Ruth Eric Redmond / David Platt
1 & 2 Samuel J. D. Greear / Heath Thomas
1 & 2 Kings Tony Merida / Jim Hamilton
1 & 2 Chronicles Danny Akin / Adam Dooley
Ezra / Nehemiah Tony Merida  / Jim Hamilton
Esther Jimmy Scroggins
Job Tullian Tchvidjian
Psalms  Volume I Danny Akin / Josh Smith
Psalms Volume II David Platt/ Jim Shaddix
Psalms Volume III Danny Akin / Tony Merida/ Johnny Hunt
Proverbs Jon Akin / Danny Akin
Ecclesiastes Darrin Patrick
Song of Solomon Danny Akin
Isaiah Andy Davis
Jeremiah / Lamentations Steven Smith
Ezekiel Landon Dowden
Daniel Danny Akin
Hosea / Joel Kevin Smith
Amos / Obadiah Greg Heisler
Jonah / Micah Eric Redmond / Bill Curtis
Nahum / Habakkuk Ken Fentress
Zephaniah / Haggai Micah Fries
Zechariah / Malachi Stephen Rummage / Robby Gallaty

 

The New Testament

Matthew David Platt
Sermon on the Mount Tony Merida
Mark Danny Akin
Luke Thabiti Anyabwile
John Matt Carter
Acts David Platt / Jimmy Scroggins
Romans David Platt
1 Corinthians James Merritt / Danny Akin
2 Corinthians Eric Mason
Galatians Tony Merida / David Platt
Ephesians Tony Merida
Philippians Tony Merida
Colossians / Philemon Matt Chandler / Danny Akin
1&2 Thessalonians Mark Howell
1&2 Timothy / Titus Tony Merida / David Platt / Danny Akin
Hebrews Al Mohler
James David Platt / Francis Chan
1 Peter Mark Dever
2 Peter / Jude Mark Dever / Danny Akin
1st, 2nd, 3rd John Danny Akin
Revelation Danny Akin

 

Helpful Historical Commentary Series

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I like scholarly commentaries, I really do. Anytime I preach or teach through a particular biblical book, I make a point of reading through two or three such commentaries, knowing that if they are worth their salt they will interact with other scholars and tell me what I need to know. But as I prepare a sermon or lesson I try to read at least as many “homiletical” or “devotional” commentaries and “pre-critical” commentaries as I do modern scholarly works. I have specific reasons for this practice.

I read through homiletical or devotional commentaries because I want to teach or preach Scripture to God’s people. I firmly believe that it helps to read others whose commentaries are based upon their own teaching and preaching, preferably in the context of the local church. I find they often bring out pastoral insights and relevant points of application that are often absent from scholarly commentaries.

I read through pre-critical commentaries because, in addition to normally being homiletical or devotional in nature, such works force me to interact with writers whose context was different and who often did not belong to my particular ecclesiastical tradition. Some of my favorites are John Chrysostom, John Calvin, the Puritans, and occasionally other church fathers or earlier Baptist writers like John Gill. You can find a lot of helpful resources on the internet.

A great blessing to the church in recent years has been the rise of commentary series that focus on pre-critical writings from particular periods of church history. I want to highlight three series, two of which I presently use and one forthcoming series I eagerly await.

First is the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (IVP), edited by Tom Oden. You can read Dr. Oden’s general introduction to the series here. This series covers the Patristic era. My SEBTS colleague Steve McKinion contributed the volume on Isaiah I-39.

Second is The Church’s Bible (Eerdmans), edited by Robert Louis Wilken. This series covers the first millennium of church history. Wilken’s fine introductory essay was republished by First Things in March 2008 and can be read here. Three volumes have been published so far.

Finally, the Reformation Commentary on Scripture (IVP) is a forthcoming series co-edited by Timothy George and Scott Manetsch. This series covers the Reformation era. My SEBTS colleagues McKinion and David Hogg are each contributing a volume to this series.