Which contemporary commentary set would be the best to begin collecting?

Discussion in 'Commentaries' started by The Deeps, Mar 5, 2009.

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  1. The Deeps

    The Deeps Puritan Board Freshman

    As a young newly Reformed Pastor looking to engage in the context of today's culture what set looks the most promising to you?

    If i am going to invest in one here are some characteristics that would be helpful to me.

    1. a leaning toward Biblical theology rather than focusing on Systematics
    2. Redemptive historic
    3. Pastoral / preaching helps
    4. Emphasis on literary genre
    5. As close to free as possible
    6. Hard cover
    7. Presuppositional

    I don't know you guys if i'm out of line here just slap me.

    Help rescue me from Wiersbe!:pray2:
  2. Quickened

    Quickened Puritan Board Senior

    Sooner or later you'll have to break down and get turriten's institutes. Might as well be sooner :lol:
  3. The Deeps

    The Deeps Puritan Board Freshman

    Brian, what would the benefits be to exposition?
    Would this be geared for systematic teaching or exposition?
  4. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Given your parameters, I would recommend the Baker NT Commentary series for $79 from Rejoice Software. Since you say in another thread you like to use the Logos format, this would be ideal for you and VERY thorough but exceedingly practical.

    "Baker NT Commentary" Baker Libronix ($250.00) $79.95
    Bible Software Products for Microsoft Windows

    If you want the hardcover version, the $700 set is available for $99 @
    http://www.christianbook.com/Christ...roduct.published_date&Ntt=Baker NT Commentary

    Hendriksen and Kistemaker are just VERY good.

    There are other sets that are excellent. However the idea of recent + cheap makes for mighty slim pickins.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2009
  5. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    I hope you already have them but i would say if you could only have one it should be Calvins commentaries.

    Of course nowadays you can get loads of commentaries and useful works on a Bible software program like logos or PC study bible.

    I would suggest these unless you don't like using a laptop and want to be able to take a book somewhere to read.

    Personally I don't use most of my books anymore, with so much online and on CDs and in the Bible software. I used to lay out several commentaries, Strongs, Word studies, Atlases all over a big table and have them all spread out. Now its all packed in my computer and easily searchable.

    Isn't the history of Redemption just making sure you keep the whole bible in context from Gen to Rev as you explain God's unfolding plan to save a people for Himself and manifest His glory?
    As the Catechism says, What do he scriptures principally teach?
    Know God and Know Duty!
    Indicative and imperative, both !
  6. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    The New Testament Commentary series by William Hendriksen and Simon Kistemaker is a bit older, but it is a must have for Reformed pastors.
  7. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

  8. Marno

    Marno Puritan Board Freshman

    NICNT, if you are looking for a good contemporary set. Not all fit your parameters, however. In my opinion an eclectic collection carefully selected piece by piece will serve you and your people better, and save you money.
  9. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    Here is a list my friend who is now attending Puritan Reformed Seminary sent me :)

    It depends on what you are reading commentaries for. Commentary "sets" my favorite is by far Calvin. Also, Henriksen and Kistemaker have a good NT commentary. I'm not too sure about OT commentaries. John Owen's comprehensive 7 volume commentary on Hebrews is fabulous he leaves no stone unturned from the little that I have read of his 8000+ page commentary (but Owen is a stalwart and my favorite). Matthew Henry is decent, far more pastoral than exegetical. John Murray's commentary on Romans is outstanding one of the best (so is Douglas Moos')! Luther on Galatians is perhaps my single favorite commentary of all times. Machen has some good stuff on Galatians in "Letter to the Galatians." It was really good. Right up there with Luther is Thomas Manton's commentary on Jude, and William Jenkyn's is pretty good as well (but I haven't read Jenkyn's in it's entirety). I don't know that you can call them commentaries, but I always find a lot of worth in the Puritan's writings (e.g. Sibbes, Gurnall, Watson, Bunyan, Owen, Brooks, Boston etc). If you've read them, then you know they open the book with a single verse and the rest of the book expounds that verse and applies it. Probably not always exegetical, but always devotional and good for the spirit. However, sometimes their real commentaries suck, like John Cotton's Song of Solomon, it's horrible. If you can ever find JB Lightfoot's commentaries, get them. He was a good Westminster Divine and has some great stuff. Spurgeon's Treasury of Daivd (commentaries on the Psalms) is quite good. Have you seen the Reformed Expository Commentaries? Over the next 10 years they are hoping to do the whole Bible. We've only read the one on Esther and Ruth by Ian Duguid but they have Galatians, Hebrews, Gospels, and some other ones. They seem to be pretty solid. George Burrowes has a GREAT commentary on Song of Solomon (if you like the allegorical approach to the book, and Dan Fortner too). Dennis Johnson has two good commentaries one on Acts and the other on Revelation. Vern Poythress' The Returning King Commentary on Revelation is really good! Beza's study notes are helpful, but really short (they are in the Genevan Study Bible). Hodge's commentaries on the Corinthians, Ephesians, and Romans are good...very textual (Greeky), which can be hard to follow since I know VERY little Greek. More pastoral in the approach is JC Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospel, these are Rachel's favorites. Also Lloyd-Jones "sermons" on Ephesians seem to be pretty good, from what I have read. John Stott has some pretty decent ones out there. Jameson, Faucett, and Brown, from what I have used of them, have proven to be pretty good as well. John Gill's have been a surprising disappointment to me. His hyper-Calvinist tendencies are obvious in some texts.If you want "more" liberal, Barne's Notes aren't awful, just not super good. Also, Scofield's Study Bible if you want crappy dispensational theology. Wesley's commentaries aren't good. Okay...there you have it. You've exhausted my library of commentaries ;) Like I said, it all depends on what you are looking for. I don't always like the dry linguistics, I like the stuff with meaty application. Hope this helps you out.Grace.

    Here are some links to great/free Reformed Commentaries


    Matthew Henry--http://www.apostolic-churches.net/bible/mhc/MHC01001.HTM

    Hope this helps ;)
  10. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Three that come to mind are:

    1. Hendricksen/Kistemaker
    2. MacArthur
    3. New American Commentary Series (Broadman & Holman)
  11. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    This is the same as the Baker NT Commentary series recomended by DMcFadden, personally I have found the different citations somewhat confusing.

    The Libronix set is just the bees knees, it has so many advantages over paper however at these prices just get both.
  12. Grace Alone

    Grace Alone Puritan Board Senior

  13. rgray

    rgray Puritan Board Freshman

    To books (not commentaries) that might help you decide are:

    Carson, D.A. New Testament Commentary Survey. ISBN: 0801022878

    Longman III, Tremper. Old Testament Commentary Survey. ISBN: 0801026296

    Both of these books look at sets and individual commentaries to give you an idea the nature of the commentaries in question. Both Carson and Longman are contemporary and Reformed scholars; it is probably worth reading what their opinions are before buying a huge set of books.
  14. Staphlobob

    Staphlobob Puritan Board Sophomore

    Agreed. This helps avoid lots of headaches and wasted monies.
  15. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    I don't think there exists a Presuppositional Commentary. However I would recommend Bahnsen's "Van Til's Apologetic: Readings & Analysis." He covers in that book how Systematics, the Authority of Scripture, History, Philosophy, etc. relates to Apologetics. You might also consider buying the entire Van Til Collection. You will find them here: Covenant Media Foundation under the Apologetics and Theology section of books. John Owen's set is also useful and while older does speak to the issues we are going through today.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2009
  16. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Moises Silva gave me the same advice back in college. However, in my old age, I would nuance it a bit differently.

    * Best strategy is to purchase as you need them. If you are teaching on Genesis, pick up the best commentaries on Genesis. This will save you from buying a bunch of books through the years only to find them superseded by even better books by the time you get around to using them to teach/preach. For instance, can you really do without Moo on Romans? I had 27 different Romans commentaries before Moo published his masterpiece. The same is true of Beale on Revelation. I could have saved a lot of money by skipping some of the fluff.

    So, you have a decision to make: do you want the most cost-effective strategy (buy when you need them to teach) or the most convenient (buy as you find them and you will always have something when you need it)?

    Also, whether you purchase sets or individual volumes, shop AROUND for the very best deals (including used, discounted, and the libraries of deceased pastors). An opportunity to get a Beale at a bargain now may be better than waiting until you are planning to preach on Revelation.

    * Against that wonderful advice is the exact opposite truth. If you can find a good solid commentary series, it is sure nice to have something when you need it and there is no time to order the book or you are short of funds. You can hardly go wrong on a solid set such as Calvin or Hendriksen/Kistemaker. When you can obtain Henkriksen/Kistemaker for $99 in hardbound or $59 from e-sword (I prefer the Libronix version because it integrates with the largest portion of my digital library), it is a no-brainer (in my opinion).

    Now permit me to move from "preaching" to "meddling."

    DON'T PUT YOURSELF IN HUGE DEBT just to have a bigger library than Dr. So-and-So. I foolishly built a huge library during my younger years which (along with five children) left me without a day's peace of mind financially . . . even now. Don't do it to yourself, to your family, or to your future. There are plenty of books online for free, low cost computer software, etc. You do NOT need EVERY commentary on Zephaniah in order to be a faithful minister of the word. If you ignore this simple (but VERY unglamorous) advice, you WILL regret it and repent of it later.
  17. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

    One word, NO Barth!!!!!!!

    I teach Sunday School. The advice to grab commentaries as you need them is good. I too prefer Biblical to Systematics. I usually use JFB. It's free online and does a good job of explaining words and linking parts of scripture together. The Baker Commentary on the Bible is a good one-volume set that has good historical and biblical content.

    I find that a good study of the Bible does a much better job than me relying on what others have written. I've read alot of theologians, but not their commentaries. (Well, I've read some of them. I thought that I needed them, but i was wrong.) I find their writings about their struggles with the heretics, historical analysis, and their dealings with the church to be much more informative and useful.

    And for once I will say that that is just my 2 cents.
  18. Jon 316

    Jon 316 Puritan Board Sophomore

    This thread just inspired me to order John Calvins commentary on Romans, Galatians and Ephesians. :)

    Ok I admit it, I dont have any of his commentaries yet I call myself by the name 'calvinist'! I do have institutues though. lol
  19. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor


    This is, in my opinion, the most solid advice to be given on the subject. Heed Dennis' words!!!
  20. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

  21. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    Also a Good guide to commentaries if you can find it is Spurgeon's Commenting AND Commentaries Banner of Truth. Not his small booklet commenting ON commentaries. The other is a hardback but as far as I know out of print. But he sites some of the best and some to avoid and explains the benefits of each.

    So for historic works, this is great. You can get lots of good stuff from SWRB.com too.

    And I like Hendriksen's for what is in it. And John Gill esp. in the OT except for his obvious deviation from the WC on govt and Baptism.

    After you have Calvins, then pick up individual good ones, Like Goodwin, Phillip Daille, And most of the Banner of Truth Commentaries are a safe choice.
  22. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    I believe the whole book is online at the Spurgeon Archives.
  23. The Deeps

    The Deeps Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks you guys! My church gives me some money every month for books and I am trying to work out a library that has a reformed influence. I have spent the last ten years collecting dispensation commentaries so you can imagine how frustrating it is to look at a library that is almost no help to me in solid exegesis. My one personal purchase was the Logos Scholars Library. I just ordered some books that i can't wait to get my hands on! two of them are some of the ones mentioned here in regards to commentaries on commentaries so i think these will help thanks again.

    Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation [Paperback]
    By: Henry A. Virkler, Karelynne Gerber Ayayo

    New Testament Commentary Survey [Paperback]
    By: D. A. Carson

    Commentary and Reference Survey: A Comprehensive Guide to Biblical and Theological Resources [Paperback]
    By: John Glynn

    Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Revised Edition [Hardcover]
    By: William W. Klein

    How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth [Paperback]
    By: Gordon D. Fee, Douglas Stuart

    Old Testament Commentary Survey [Paperback]
    By: Tremper Longman III
  24. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I agree with Dennis whole-heartedly. It is well-balanced advice. I have several posts on this on my blog, including commentary recommendations for every book of the Bible. Here and here.
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