Resources for Disciples

When trying to better understand a book of the Bible, you need to invest in resources wisely. This page helps individuals in that process.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Top 3 Commentaries on Genesis

Devotional - Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, Volumes 1-3, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($38+ for all three volumes, used)
     Boice writes an accessible, easy to understand three volume commentary on Genesis. Boice does a good job in the opening pages of the first volume addressing various views of creation before moving into an expositional look at the historical accounts recorded in the pages of Genesis. Whenever he addresses the more difficult questions pertaining to the first book of the Bible he is also able to successfully relate those issues to our lives today. Boice's uncanny ability to show how his interpretation of the text connects to an individual's faith walk leads me name his three volume set as my favorite commentary on Genesis.
     + Runner-up:  An Interpretation of the English Bible. Volume 1: Genesis, by B. H. Carroll.  ($15, new)

AcademicGenesis 1-15 and Genesis 16-50: Word Biblical Commentary, Volumes 1 2, by Gordon J. Wenham.  ($65 for both volumes, new)
     Most biblical scholars point to Wenham's two volumes as the best commentary on the book of Genesis. I agree that Wenham's content is rich and full of insight, but the format of the Word Biblical Commentaries do not largely appeal to me. A person using Wenham's commentary should also be prepared to deal with some technical matters while realizing that this is not a commentary that pulls out application for our lives. For a sound scholastic study of Genesis, however, this is probably the place to start.
     + Runner-up:  Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch (Three Volumes), by C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch.  ($32+, used) 

Preaching/TeachingCreation & Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis, by Allen P. Ross.  ($38, new)
     Ross acknowledges and addresses some of the more difficult questions that Genesis raises and he does so in an expository fashion. Ross is consistently solid in providing insight for teachers and preachers in all his commentaries. Sometimes the author is not as thorough as I would like in covering the more difficult passages, but he always provides helpful outlines. It is wise for any biblical student to have more than one quality commentary on Genesis: in fact, I recommend purchasing all six listed on this page for a well-rounded perspective.
     + Runner-up:  Preaching Christ from Genesis: Foundations for Expository Sermons, by Sidney Greidanus.  ($27+, used; $35, new)
 
* Two supplemental resources worth consulting:
1. Primeval Saints: Studies in the Patriarchs of Genesis, by James B. Jordan.  ($14, new)
2. Far As the Curse is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption, by Michael D. Williams.  ($14, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Exodus

DevotionalThe Message of Exodus: The Bible Speaks Today, by J. A. Motyer.  ($10+, used; $20, new)
     Consistent with The Bible Speaks Today series, Motyer does not go verse-by-verse through the book of Exodus, but he writes in paragraph form to explain textual divisions. This format does not make it "convenient" to look up specific verses about which you might have a question. The exposition that Motyer offers is easy to read and to understand. While he includes some technical information in the footnotes, the bulk of Motyer's observations aid students in seeing how Exodus applies to their lives today as God's people. This is my favorite commentary to read on Exodus.
     + Runner-up:  Exalting Jesus in Exodus: Christ-centered Exposition, by Tony Merida.  ($12, new)

AcademicExodus: The New American Commentary, by Douglas K. Stuart.  ($23, new)
     This is probably the best exegetical commentary on Exodus. Consistent with the New American Commentary series, Stuart indicates precisely the verses on which he is commenting. This work deals appropriately with the Hebrew language, bringing to bear how it explicates the text. For someone wanting a sound scholastic look at Exodus, this is where he or she should begin. 
     + Runner-up:  Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch (Three Volumes), by C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch.  ($32+, used)

Preaching/TeachingExodus: Saved for God's Glory (Preaching the Word), by Philip Graham Ryken.  ($38, new)
     Ryken is a gifted writer, and this work is basically sermons put into something of a commentary format (which is consistent with the Preaching the Word series). The content is rich and helpful, especially as it offers ideas for breaking and titling sections, refers to applicable quotes of notable persons, and points the reader to Christ. With Stuart you get stronger exegesis, whereas with Ryken you get better expositional insights (aka, illustrations and applications).
     + Runner-up:  Exodus: The NIV Application Commentary, by Peter Enns.  ($19+, new/used)

* A supplemental resource worth consulting:
1. Freedom Through Obedience: The Ten Commandments Explained and Applied, by George Philip. ($3+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Leviticus

Devotional - Leviticus: The Geneva Series of Commentaries, by Andrew Bonar.  ($8+, used)
     If you can prepare yourself to consult a commentary written in the 1800s - both with regards to its vernacular and to its dated applications - then don't ignore Bonar's treatment of Leviticus. As well as anyone, Bonar connects the book of Leviticus to the Gospel.
     + Runner-up:  Leviticus (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by R. K. Harrison.  ($4+, used)

AcademicLeviticus: Interpretation, by Samuel E. Balentine.  ($16+, used)
     A number of the Interpretation series commentaries tend to take a more liberal view of Scripture than I do. In his commentary on Leviticus, however, Balentine mainly stays clear of unnecessary textual criticisms and focuses on textual meaning. So while you may not find much in the way of illustration or application in Balentine's observations, you will gain significant insight for how to properly interpret Leviticus.
     + Runner-up:  The Book of Leviticus: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by Gordon J. Wenham.  ($24+, used).

Preaching/TeachingHoliness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus, by Allen P. Ross.  ($30, used; $42, new)
     Hands down my favorite commentary on the book of Leviticus. Ross is detailed, yet accessible. He outlines sections of Leviticus in a clear, thorough manner and proceeds to unpack those outlines under the heading "Development of the Exposition." In his "Concluding Observations," Ross then connects the exposition to how it relates to our lives as New Testament believers. A teacher and/or preacher will not find a better resource on Leviticus than Ross' contribution.
     + Runner-up:  The Message of Leviticus: The Bible Speaks Today, by Derek Tidball. ($6+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Numbers

Devotional - Numbers: The Daily Study Bible, by Walter Riggans.  ($5+, used)
     I take away so many encouraging and challenging nuggets from the observations Riggans makes in this short commentary. One of the things that Riggans does exceptionally well is to show how various passages in Numbers direct our hearts to New Testament teaching.
     + Runner-up:  The Message of Numbers: The Bible Speaks Today, by Raymond Brown.  ($12+, used)

AcademicNumbers: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by Gordon J. Wenham.  ($12+, used)
     Wenham's treatment of the fourth book of the Pentateuch explains the text in a short, straightforward manner without offering any illustration or application. For that reason, I place it under the academic heading. He says a lot in limited space, but I would not recommend it as a stand alone commentary. Consider also getting Cole's contribution to the literature on Numbers, listed below as runner-up in this category.
     + Runner-up:  Numbers: The New American Commentary, by Dennis R. Cole.  ($10+, used)

Preaching/TeachingNumbers: God's Presence in the Wilderness (Preaching the Word), by Iain M. Duguid.  ($20+, used)
     If I am teaching on a passage from Numbers or if I am simply needing to reference a text from Numbers, Duguid's commentary is where I start. Once again, as is true for many of the commentaries in the Preaching the Word series, his exegesis of various texts from Numbers read more like a sermon than a true commentary. But I don't mind saying that I enjoy Duguid's sermons! His is my favorite commentary on Numbers.
     + Runner-up:  Numbers: The Preacher's Commentary, Volume 4, by James Philip.  ($8, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Deuteronomy

Devotional - Deuteronomy: Loving Obedience to a Loving God (Preaching the Word), by Ajith Fernando.  ($35, new)
     Rating a one-volume commentary of 700 pages as the best devotional commentary may seem misplaced. Obviously, not many people would just pick up a book of that size for its devotional value. Yet, I think Fernando's treatment of Deuteronomy is devotional in nature. If a person were to do a study through Deuteronomy wanting to see how it pertains to his or her walk with the Lord, Fernando's contribution is probably the best commentary to buy. (Payne's commentary, listed as my runner-up in this category, is far less comprehensive but much more manageable to read through).
     + Runner-up:  Deuteronomy: The Daily Study Bible, by David F. Payne.  ($4+, used)

AcademicDeuteronomy: New International Biblical Commentary, Volume 4, by Christopher Wright.  ($28+, used)
     Wright tackles Deuteronomy in a verse-by-verse format clearly and concisely, reserving for the end of each chapter in the commentary some academic insights under the heading "Additional Notes." While his commentary is not as technical as you will find in other volumes, I consider most of his observations accurate and accessible. This is my favorite commentary on Deuteronomy, which appears now in the Understanding the Bible Commentary series ($16, new).
     + Runner-up:  The Book of Deuteronomy: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by Peter C. Craigie.  ($10+, used)

Preaching/TeachingDeuteronomy: The NIV Application Commentary, by Daniel I. Block.  ($29, new)
     Block provides an excellent resource for those teaching through Deuteronomy. As is true of all commentaries in the NIV Application series, Block follows the flow of "Original Meaning," "Bridging Contexts," and "Contemporary Significance" format. Where I think Block excels in this commentary is in the contemporary significance section, which can prove remarkably helpful for a teacher/preacher looking to make concrete applications.  
     + Runner-up:  Deuteronomy:  The New American Commentary, by Eugene H. Merrill.  ($16+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Joshua

Devotional - Joshua: No Falling Words (Focus on the Bible), by Dale Ralph Davis.  ($13, new)
     You will find every complete commentary that Dr. Dale Ralph Davis has written (except for the one on Micah) listed as my favorite devotional work on a particular Old Testament book. Honestly, his commentaries fit better perhaps under the Preaching/Teaching category, as you will find a wealth of teaching points, illustrations, and applications from the pen of Dr. Davis. Nevertheless, I place his commentaries under the devotional tag because they read like good literature. Very few biblical scholars have the gift to put forward great historical, cultural, literary, and theological content in such a way that you read through it and think: "Wow, was that actually a commentary?" Dr. Davis possesses that kind of ability. Whatever Dr. Davis writes is worth purchasing for your personal library, and his work on Joshua is my favorite commentary on that historical biblical book.
     + Runner-up:  Joshua: Strong and Courageous (Welwyn Commentary Series), by John Currid.  ($10+, used)

AcademicJoshua: The Challenge of the Promised Land (Maggid Studies in Tanakh, Stone Edition), by Michael Hattin.  ($17+, used; $25, new)
     Hattin is Jewish, so the book is written primarily to a Jewish audience citing primarily Jewish sources. Even though Hattin does not write from a Christian perspective, Christians can still glean wonderful insights from Hattin's work. The observations he makes regarding the culture, the archeology, the language, and the people are often fascinating. Of Rahab, he suggests: "Do we go too far in assuming that she, like most other practitioners of her profession, did not willingly choose her career but was coerced to adopt it through an unfortunate combination of misfortune and abuse? Stigmatized and marginalized, no prostitute can easily escape the vicious circumstances in which she finds herself. The disloyalty of the zona, who is faithful to no one and notoriously insincere, is the defense mechanism of a woman who has lived all of her productive years in the shadow of desperation and neglect. In other words, Rahab is able to cavalierly turn her back on her townspeople because they have long since turned their backs on her" (29-30). I struggle with naming my runner-up in this category.
     + Runner-up:  Joshua (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by Richard Hess.  ($10+, used)

Preaching/TeachingJoshua: Holman Old Testament Commentary, Volume 4, by Kenneth O. Gangel.  ($10+, used; $20, new)
     While I am not personally drawn to the stylistic layout of the Holman Commentaries and I think that many in that series are limited in their exegetical insights, Gangel's treatment of Joshua is thorough and helpful. He offers practical, alliterative outlines for a person teaching through the book of Joshua, while his section titled "Deeper Discoveries" appropriately addresses some of the more difficult passages in Joshua.
     + Runner-up:  Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($7+, used)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Top 3 Commentaries on Judges

Devotional - Judges: Such a Great Salvation (Focus on the Bible), by Dale Ralph Davis.  ($13, new)
     As a teacher, the difficulty I have with reading Dr. Davis' commentaries is that I frequently want to preach the message he presents! He is a scholarly expositor who brings deep insights to a level anyone can understand. Rarely does Davis deal with critical or technical issues (he will when necessary), but he does offer historical and cultural observations that broaden a person's exegetical understanding.
     + Runner-up:  Judges & Ruth: New Cambridge Bible Commentary, by Victor Matthews.  ($9+, used)

AcademicA Commentary on Judges and Ruth: Kregel Exegetical Library, by Robert B. Chisholm.   ($30, new)
     Since I find myself siding more with Chisholm as best academic commentary on Ruth, I also give him the nod on Judges out of consideration for the person only able to purchase one resource in this category. Plus, even though I believe Chisholm's brief "message and application" section often reads redundant to his lengthy exposition, I resonate with Chisholm's stylistic approach more than that of Block.
     + Runner-up:  Judges, Ruth: The New American Commentary, by Daniel Block.  ($26, new)

Preaching/TeachingJudges: A Practical and Theological Commentary, by James B. Jordan.  ($30+, new/used)
     This is a reprint of the work titled Judges: God's War Against Humanism, which is the copy that I possess. Jordan's work is my favorite commentary on Judges, and one that I would commend highly to any teacher/preacher. What Jordan does better than anyone I have seen in this contribution to the literature is (a) to interpret Judges in light of the historical and cultural setting of Israel, (b) to back up his interpretation with scriptural support, and (c) to highlight Christ within the text. Jordan brings a freshness to his commentary that I greatly value, but I would encourage the teacher/preacher to supplement Jordan's work with either Davis or Chisholm.
     + Runner-up:  Judges For You, by Timothy Keller.  ($5+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Ruth

Devotional - Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth, by Sinclair B. Ferguson.  ($14, new)
     Ferguson's commentary consists of short chapters that walk the reader through Ruth while keeping his or her attention on God's providence. In spite of its brevity, Ferguson is able to highlight the major historical developments in the book of Ruth and to demonstrate its connections for the New Testament believer. I enjoyed reading it, but I would not recommend this resource as a stand alone commentary.
     + Runner-up:  Judges & Ruth: New Cambridge Bible Commentary, by Victor Matthews.  ($9+, used)

AcademicA Commentary on Judges and Ruth: Kregel Exegetical Library, by Robert B. Chisholm, Jr.  ($30, new)
     I am somewhat torn here between Chisholm and Daniel Block. I chose Chisholm primarily because I find myself more in agreement with his interpretive positions than I do with Block. That said, I place greater value on Block's introduction and his observations on the final chapter than I do that of Chisholm. If a student could purchase both books, I would recommend it because of the diversity of interpretation between the men on some key passages. Overall, though, I would likely rate Chisholm's treatment as my favorite "traditional" commentary on Ruth with the book by Piper (listed below) as my favorite resource.
     + Runner-up:  Judges, Ruth: The New American Commentary, by Daniel Block.  ($26, new)

Preaching/TeachingThere is a Redeemer: Judges & Ruth, by Sarah Ivill.  ($4+, used)
     Ivill provides a reliable, insightful commentary on Ruth. She leans more toward an interpretation in the same vein as Block and Duguid (Reformed Expository Commentary), so she would provide a sound compliment to Chisholm's work. For someone teaching through Ruth, I think that Ivill's engaging discussion questions would prove especially helpful.
     + Runner-up:  God in Everyday Life: The Book of Ruth for Expositors and Biblical Counselors, by Brad Brandt & Eric Kress.  ($3+, used)

* A supplemental resource that I highly recommend: Get this.
1. A Sweet & Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God, by John Piper.  ($4+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on 1 & 2 Samuel

Devotional - 1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart (Focus on the Bible) and 2 Samuel: Out of Every Adversity (Focus on the Bible), by Dale Ralph Davis.  ($30 to get both books, new)
     Davis writes a scholarly exposition of 1 and 2 Samuel without coming across as too "heady." True to most everything he writes, a person can just sit and read his contribution on 1 and 2 Samuel like a good piece of literature. I find myself disagreeing with him a few times in his assessment of people and events, but I appreciate his perspective even when I take a different position. For 1 & 2 Samuel, I am torn, but I give Davis my favorite commentary tag with a strong encouragement that individuals also purchase Peterson and Leithart.
     + Runner-up:  1, 2 Samuel: The Communicator's Commentary, by Kenneth L. Chafin.  ($5+, used)

Academic1-2 Samuel: Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Volume 4a, by J. Robert Vannoy.  ($24, new)
     Some biblical thinkers would likely not classify this as an academic commentary because Vannoy is not all that technical. But where I especially appreciate Vannoy's engagement with the text pertains to the beginning notes and the endnotes that he provides. In his introductory notes for each passage, Vannoy highlights key grammatical notes pertinent to the Hebrew text. In his endnotes about each passage, Vannoy draws from a number of strong Old Testament thinkers to expand on observations that he makes in his "commentary" section.
     + Runner-up:  1 Samuel and 2 Samuel: Word Biblical Commentary, Volumes 11 and 12, by Ralph W. Klein and A. A. Anderson.  ($25+ for both volumes, used)

Preaching/TeachingFirst and Second Samuel: Westminster Bible Companion, by Eugene Peterson.  ($9+, used)
     Peterson's commentary on 1 and 2 Samuel is direct and to the point. You will not get a lengthy, exegetical treatment of the text, but he does an excellent job of explaining things in such a way that anyone can understand what is happening and why. Plus, unlike most commentaries I recommend as best preaching/teaching resource, Peterson does not provide much in the way of illustration. Nevertheless, he does bring to bear the text's relevance to our lives, appealing both to the head and the heart. It is an excellent resource to have.
     + Runner-up:  1, 2 Samuel: The NIV Application Commentary, by Bill T. Arnold.  ($19+, used; $28, new)

* A supplemental resource that I highly recommend: Get this.
1. A Son to Me: An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel, by Peter J. Leithart.  ($21, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on 1 & 2 Kings

Devotional - 1 Kings: The Wisdom and the Folly (Focus on the Bible) and 2 Kings: The Power and the Fury (Focus on the Bible), by Dale Ralph Davis.  ($11+ for each book, used)
     I have stated it several times in remarking on previous commentaries written by my former seminary professor Dr. Davis that he makes reading commentaries fun. It is no different here with his expositions of 1 & 2 Kings. Yet, do not expect to read anything from Dr. Davis without feeling the sting of conviction that God's Word brings. Commenting on Elijah in 1 Kings 19, he affirms that the prophet was depressed and despondent, but he then explains the cause. It was over Yahweh's interests, over Yahweh's covenant, and over the lack of concern Yahweh's people had for His name. Thus, Davis asks us: "What is it that you get despondent about? Do you ever get depressed for God's sake?" (273)
     + Runner-up:  I & II Kings: The Daily Study Bible Series, by A. Graeme Auld.  ($5, new)

Academic1 & 2 Kings: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, by Peter J. Leithart.  ($20, new)
     You will find this to be an interesting read on 1 & 2 Kings that makes each book remarkably accessible and relevant for today. He begins, writing: "Other narratives end at a deathbed or a funeral pyre, but, remarkably, 1-2 Kings begins there, with Judah's great lion 'old, advanced in age.' Does this foreshadow the eventual death of the Davidic monarchy and of Israel, thrown into the grave of exile? Is Israel represented by the Davidic king, doomed to die even before the story begins? Or does 1-2 Kings begin at a deathbed to show that history moves on after death, to suggest a hope for resurrection?" (29-30)  I consider it my favorite commentary on these two historical books, although I would hesitate to recommend it to you as your only resource for 1 and 2 Kings. Get Davis' commentaries as well.
     + Runner-up:  1 and 2 Kings: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by Donald J. Wiseman.  ($8+, used)

Preaching/Teaching1 and 2 Kings: New International Biblical Commentary, Volume 7, by Iain W. Provan.  ($18+, used)
     If you are looking for a verse-by-verse treatment of the text of 1 and 2 Kings, Provan comes close to offering one. After breaking down a particular passage from the biblical book (take, for instance, 1 Kings 3:1-15), Provan concludes with a helpful section entitled "Additional Notes." These notes provide a bit more depth on certain verses. This commentary now appears in the Understanding the Bible Commentary series ($18, new).
     + Runner-up:  1, 2 Kings: The Communicator's Commentary, Volume 9, by Russell H. Dilday.  ($3+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on 1 & 2 Chronicles

Devotional - 1, 2 Chronicles: The Communicator's Commentary, Volume 10, by Leslie C. Allen.  ($4+, used)
     Allen truly makes the two books of Chronicles come alive. He does not necessarily provide exegetical depth, but he explains the text in a way that is relevant for our lives and for the worship of our God. If you ever strive to read through 1 and 2 Chronicles devotionally, let Allen's commentary augment your study. Although somewhat dated, it is my favorite commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles.
     + Runner-up:  The Message of Chronicles: The Bible Speaks Today, by Michael Wilcock.  ($6+, used)

AcademicA Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles: Kregel Exegetical Library, by Eugene H. Merrill.  ($38, new)
     Merrill offers more exegetical insights than does Allen, so you can expect stronger textual analysis in this work. While I am not a fan of the formatting, his exegesis and exposition section explains passages from 1 & 2 Chronicles with significant detail and clarity. Concerning a few texts he also incorporates a theology section, which connects principles from the time of Chronicles to today. This is a sound, conservative, thorough commentary for the serious student of 1 & 2 Chronicles.
     + Runner-up:  1-2 Chronicles: Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, by Mark Boda.  ($20, new)

Preaching/Teaching - I & II Chronicles: Holman Old Testament Commentary, Volume 8, by Winfried Corduan.  ($20, new)
     This is a superb resource for someone hoping to draw practical illustrations out when teaching or preaching from 1 & 2 Chronicles. The commentary section is basic but adequate, while the discussion questions at the end of each chapter are appropriate and applicable.
     + Runner-up:  1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by Martin J. Selman.  ($22+ for both volumes, used)

* A supplemental resource worth consulting:
1. The Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire: A Theological Commentary on 1-2 Chronicles, by Scott W. Hahn.  ($8+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Ezra

DevotionalThe Message of Ezra & Haggai: The Bible Speaks Today, by Robert Fyall.  ($18, new)
     Fyall's commentary on Ezra does not deal much with technical matters, although he addresses a few critical questions about the text in his short introduction. What Fyall does is offer a straightforward interpretation of the text, periodically drawing out applications that speak directly to a person's heart. This is a highly accessible, easy to read commentary on Ezra. (I recommend Fyall as my top choice for a devotional commentary on Haggai as well).
     + Runner-up:  Ezra and Nehemiah (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by Derek Kidner.  ($10+, used)

AcademicThe Books of Ezra, Nehemiah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by F. Charles Fensham.  ($28, new)
     In commenting about Fyall and Thomas, I highlight their expositional style. Fensham, on the other hand, falls under the exegetical category. Fensham does not offer much in the way of illustration or application, but his is probably the best interpretative treatment of Ezra and Nehemiah that you can find. If I have a question about a particular verse within these two biblical books, I consult Fensham first.
     + Runner-up:  Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther: The New American Commentary, by Mervin Breneman.  ($10+, used; $20, new)

Preaching/TeachingEzra & Nehemiah: Reformed Expository Commentary, by Derek W. H. Thomas.  ($35, new)
     Thomas brings to life the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, connecting the historical events to our lives today as well as anyone you will find. In a few places, I differ with his interpretation, but his point of view is always well presented. This work is not one really of in-depth exegesis as much as it is one of quality exposition. His illustrations and applications are helpful and relevant, and he writes in a way that anyone can understand. I recommend Thomas as my favorite commentary on Ezra.
     + Runner-up:  Ezra-Nehemiah: Interpretation, by Mark Throntveit.  ($4+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Nehemiah

Devotional - The Message of Nehemiah: The Bible Speaks Today, by Raymond Brown.  ($6+, used)
     Brown does an excellent job of presenting the historical background for the book of Nehemiah and explaining the flow of the biblical text. Where I think Brown is especially strong, however, is in his ability to connect that biblical text to today's audience. Take, for instance, his challenge: "We long for easy ways of knowing God when we are guilty of devoting less time to Him than we would to the development of a human relationship. How could we possibly expect to enjoy someone's friendship if we only read about what they are like and about how good they have been to others, but never spent time with them ourselves?" (147)  [Grammarians, forgive his lack of pronoun/antecedent agreement!]
     + Runner-up:  Ezra and Nehemiah (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by Derek Kidner.  ($10+, used)

Academic - The Books of Ezra, Nehemiah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by F. Charles Fensham.  ($28, new)
     Fensham earns my top spot for academic work on Nehemiah, just as he did for Ezra. As mentioned in my post about Ezra: "Fensham does not offer much in the way of illustration or application, but his is probably the best interpretative treatment of Ezra and Nehemiah that you can find. If I have a question about a particular verse within these two biblical books, I consult Fensham first."
     + Runner-up:  Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther: The New American Commentary, by Mervin Breneman.  ($10+, used; $20, new)

Preaching/Teaching - Ezra & Nehemiah: Reformed Expository Commentary, by Derek W. H. Thomas.  ($35, new)
    As mentioned in my post about Ezra: "Thomas brings to life the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, connecting the historical events to our lives today as well as anyone you will find. In a few places, I differ with his interpretation, but his exegesis is always well presented. This work is not one really of in-depth exegesis as much as it is one of quality exposition. His illustrations and applications are helpful and relevant, and he writes in a way that anyone can understand." I commend Thomas as my favorite commentary on Nehemiah, although I consider his work on Ezra a bit stronger. My favorite overall resource is Boice's Nehemiah: Learning to Lead, mentioned below, which you can now only find used.
     + Runner-up:  Ezra-Nehemiah: Interpretation, by Mark Throntveit.  ($4+, used)

* Two supplemental resources that I highly recommend: Get one of these.
1. A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah, by J. I. Packer.  ($5+, used)
2. Nehemiah: Learning to Lead, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($7+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Esther

Devotional - Esther and Ruth: Reformed Expository Commentary, by Iain M. Duguid.  ($7+, used)
     I like Duguid on Esther much more than his exposition of Ruth. This is a sermonic treatment of Esther, so it is not a verse-by-verse interpretation of the text but an explanation in paragraph form. Duguid helps to provide a solid overview of the events through Esther and its application for us today.
     + Runner-up:  Esther: Wisdom Commentary, by Stephen Davey.  ($6+, used)

Academic - Esther: The NIV Application Commentary, by Karen H. Jobes.  ($20, new)
     Jobe's commentary on Esther does not truly fall under an academic or technical description. However, she provides a wealth of insight that covers the narrative as well as any resource you will find. As true of all commentaries in The NIV Application series, you will unearth the more exegetical observations in her "Original Meaning" section. This is my favorite commentary on the book of Esther.
     + Runner-up:  Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther: The New American Commentary, by Mervin Breneman.  ($10+, used; $20, new)

Preaching/TeachingInconspicuous Providence: The Gospel According to Esther, by Bryan R. Gregory.  ($12, new)
     Keep in mind that Gregory's book does not read like a conventional commentary. This work reads like an extensive overview of the happenings in Esther, occasionally offering a helpful illustration and providing a broad application point. I think his discussion questions at the end of each of his chapters prove beneficial for a teacher/preacher hoping to draw out some practical pointers. Gregory also does a good job, as his book title would suggest, of helping the reader find Jesus in the story of Esther.
     + Runner-up:  Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther: Mastering the Old Testament, Volume 11, by Mark Roberts.  ($5+, used)

* A supplemental work worth consulting:
1. Esther: The Woman of Strength & Dignity, by Charles Swindoll.  ($5+, used)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Top 3 Commentaries on Job

Devotional - Job: The Preacher's Commentary, Volume 12, by David L. McKenna.  ($12, new)
     McKenna's work on Job is accessible and useful to laypersons, teachers, and preachers. It is my favorite commentary on Job. Although McKenna does not provide an interpretation for each individual verse of Job, he is excellent at explaining the sections of the biblical book in a way that is understandable and practical.
     + Runner-up:  The Gospel According to Job: An Honest Look at Pain and Doubt from the Life of One Who Lost Everything, by Mike Mason.  ($8+, used)

Academic - Job: Interpretation, by J. Gerald Janzen.  ($5+, used)
     Janzen says, "Of all the books of the Bible, this one requires the least by way of pre-requisite knowledge and information to make a beginning. There is hardly a person who does not have a personal acquaintance with the questions to which the book is addressed" (1). Although Janzen gets into some unnecessary weeds as his introduction progresses (and a few of his observations are definitely misguided), the bulk of his commentary focuses on the primary issue: "Why do the righteous suffer?"
     + Runner-up:  The Book of Job: A Commentary (Old Testament Library), by Norman Habel.  ($20+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Job: An Introduction & Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by Francis I. Andersen.  ($16, new)
     Andersen's contribution on Job is as good as an introductory level commentary on Job as a person can hope to find. He is clear and concise, and he focuses on the major issues rather than get bogged down in minor details. It is a helpful book for the teacher of Job to consult when putting together lessons, but you will not find illustrative material in this commentary.
     + Runner-up:  Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word), by Christopher Ash.  ($27, new)

* A supplemental resource that I highly recommend: Get this.
1. How Does God Treat His Friends? Learning from the Book of Job, by Robert Fyall.  ($5+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Psalms

Devotional - Psalms 1-72 and Psalms 73-150: Kidner Classic Commentaries, by Derek Kidner.  ($31 for both volumes, new)
     Kidner's work on the book of Psalms is a classic resource. His two volume commentary gives a sound verse-by-verse overview. He occasionally explores the significance of a word in Hebrew and includes a few academic observations in his footnotes. All-in-all Kidner's work on the Psalms is a good, straight-forward explanation of the Psalter. (The runner-up volume by Williams is a bit less insightful but more illustrative).
     + Runner-up:  Psalms 1-72 and Psalms 73-150: The Preacher's Commentary, Volumes 13 & 14, by Donald M. Williams.  ($35 for both volumes, new)  

AcademicThe Treasury of David, 3 Volumes, by Charles H. Spurgeon.  ($35 for all three volumes, new)
     Because of the sheer amount of material that Spurgeon includes in his 3 volume commentary on the Psalms, I reference it as a scholarly treatment. He proceeds through the Psalter verse-by-verse, offering multiple observations on each verse under the heading of "Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings." He further includes a helpful section under "Hints to Preachers." I still consider Spurgeon's work as my favorite commentary on the book of Psalms, but I would make you aware that (a) the print in this commentary set is small, and (b) some of the language and applications show their age, having been originally published in the late 1800s. (Ross, mentioned below, is an excellent alternative).
     + Runner-up:  Psalms: The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary, by Geoffrey W. Grogan.  ($24, new)

Preaching/Teaching - A Commentary on the Psalms: 3 Volume Set (Kregel Exegetical Library), by Allen P. Ross.  ($84, new)
     Where this commentary excels is in Ross' overview of main themes and suggestions for teaching outlines. He places the more scholarly concerns, such as Hebrew word studies, in the footnotes. This commentary effectively applies the Psalter to one's personal life as well as to one's place in public worship.
     + Runner-up:  Psalms 1-72 and Psalms 73-150: Teach the Text Commentary Series, by C. Hassell Bullock & Mark Strauss.  ($45 for both volumes, new)

* A supplemental resource worth consulting:
1) Deserted by God?, by Sinclair Ferguson. ($3, used; $13, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Proverbs

Devotional - A Commentary on Proverbs: A Geneva Series Commentary, by Charles Bridges.  ($13+, used; $25, new)
     For those not inspired by the writing style of the mid-1800s, consider picking up a modern translation offered through The Crossway Classic Commentaries, edited by Alister McGrath and J.I. Packer ($18, new). Be aware, however, that the modern translation is half the length of the Geneva Series Commentary.
     + Runner-up:  Proverbs & Ecclesiastes: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, by Daniel J. Treier.  ($15, new)
    
Academic - Proverbs (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms), by Tremper Longman III.  ($30, new)
     Most biblical scholars seem to advocate for Bruce Waltke's two volume set as the best out there on Proverbs, which you can probably locate for $70. I simply prefer to get 3 solid voices on a biblical book for the price it would cost me to purchase Waltke's work. So instead of Waltke, I refer you to Longman's treatment of Proverbs. Without getting overly bogged down in details, Longman does an excellent job of going verse-by-verse through Proverbs, dealing with the Hebrew language where most appropriate. In breaking the book down for explanatory purposes, Longman advises: "Proverbs 1-9 functions as a hermeneutical guide to Prov. 10-31. As we will see, the reader is confronted in chapter 9 with a choice between Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly. This is a theological decision between allegiance to Yahweh and the worship of idols and serves to bring theological profundity to the use of the words wisdom and folly and their associated terms throughout the book" (88).
     + Runner-up:  Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs: The New American Commentary, by Duane A. Garrett.  ($10+, used)

Preaching/TeachingProverbs: A Mentor Commentary, by John A. Kitchen.  ($27, new)
     Kitchen's work is my favorite commentary on Proverbs. After a clear, concise 20-page introduction to the book of Proverbs, Kitchen walks through the meaning of each chapter verse-by-verse. In doing so, he does a magnificent job of (a) interpreting passages in their historical context, and (b) demonstrating the the text's relevance for us. An example of this is in his concluding remarks on Proverbs 5:21, where he writes: "The word 'paths' refers literally to the ruts worn by repeated travel of wagons over a roadway. When we bend our will toward temptation, we promise ourselves, 'Just this once!' Seldom do we calculate the addictive nature of sin, particularly sexual sin. God sees not only our individual acts of sin, but He sees also the destructive habits they will become" (131).
     + Runner-up:  Proverbs: The Preacher's Commentary, Volume 15, by David Allan Hubbard.  ($20, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Ecclesiastes

Devotional - Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End, by David Gibson.  ($15, new)
     This is not your conventional commentary, to say the least. Nevertheless, Gibson does an outstanding job of putting Ecclesiastes in proper perspective. Along the way of capturing the essence of Ecclesiastes' meaning, Gibson also provides appropriate illustrations and practical applications that will challenge not just how you read Ecclesiastes but how you live your life.
     + Runner-up:  Ecclesiastes: Interpretation, by William P. Brown.  ($22+, used)
     
AcademicEcclesiastes & The Song of Songs: Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Volume 16, by Daniel C. Fredericks & Daniel J. Estes.  ($28+, used; $45, new)
     An excellent, thorough scholarly treatment of Ecclesiastes, Fredericks does not leave many stones unturned. Weaving through the book of Ecclesiastes, at each section break in the text he provides a fresh translation, followed by notes on the text, an evaluation of form and structure, additional comments, and a closing explanation piece. It is all outstanding, but I especially appreciate the explanation section where the author connects the meaning of the passage to the New Testament and our lives. This is my favorite commentary on Ecclesiastes.
     + Runner-up:  Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs: The New American Commentary, by Duane A. Garrett.  ($10+, used)

Preaching/TeachingEcclesiastes/Song of Songs: The NIV Application Commentary, by Iain Provan.  ($14+, used; $25, new)
     I do not agree with all of Provan's interpretative conclusions in this commentary (his perspective on authorship, for instance), but I do value the ideas that a teacher/preacher can draw for illustrating certain texts from Ecclesiastes and for making practical applications. But Provan's commentary is not limited to that, for he also offers some good insights to the original meaning of the biblical text.
     + Runner-up:  Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs: Teach the Text Commentary Series, by Edward Curtis.  ($6+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Song of Songs

Devotional - Solomon's Song of Love: Let the Song of Songs Inspire Your Own Romantic Story, by Craig Glickman.  ($5+, used)
     I read Glickman's original work on the Song of Songs when I was in seminary, and it has been my favorite commentary on the biblical book ever since. Honestly, I prefer his earlier work (I doubt you can find a copy of it now) to the updated version in print. Still, although I think he tries to be "too relevant" in the current edition, the bulk of the commentary remains in tact. I would not, however, recommend Glickman as a stand alone treatment of the Song of Songs. 
     + Runner-up:  The Song of Solomon (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by G. Lloyd Carr.  ($4+, used)
     
Academic - Ecclesiastes & The Song of Songs: Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Volume 16, by Daniel C. Fredericks & Daniel J. Estes.  ($30+, used; $45, new)
     I recommended this volume in the Apollos series as the best commentary on Ecclesiastes, and you would not be disappointed if this was the one book you had in your library on Song of Songs as well. Estes is thorough in his interpretation without making any unnecessary or improper reaches regarding the text's meaning.
     + Runner-up:  Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs: The New American Commentary, by Duane A. Garrett.  ($10+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Exalting Jesus in Song of Songs: Christ-centered Exposition, by Daniel L. Akin.  ($16, new)
     Akin provides an excellent resource for teachers and preachers in this contribution to the Exalting Jesus commentary series. His main idea and outline suggestions are solid, he is easy to read and to understand, and the discussion questions he lists are appropriate. It is a worthwhile commentary to add to one's library.
     + Runner-up:  Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs: The NIV Application Commentary, by Iain Provan.  ($25, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Isaiah

Devotional - Isaiah: God Saves Sinners (Preaching the Word), by Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.  ($27, new)
     Isaiah is a sizable task for the interpreter. Whereas Ortlund does not go as in-depth as others and does not cover Isaiah in small enough divisions for my taste, he does bring the prophetic book to life. In fact, where Ortlund shines is in his Christ-centered focus and in how he brings the text to bear on our lives today. Ortlund's work is refreshing to read, and it is my favorite commentary on Isaiah.
     + Runner-up:  Come With Me Through Isaiah, by David Pawson.  ($15, new)
     
Academic - The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary, by J. Alec Motyer.  ($24, new)
     Considered by many as the expert scholar on Isaiah, J. Alec Motyer does not disappoint in this commentary. For a historical, cultural, and linguistic detailed study of Isaiah, Motyer is an excellent place to begin. One significant drawback to this commentary is the size of print in the book.   
    + Runner-up:  The Book of Isaiah, 3 Volumes, by Edward J. Young.  ($28+ for all three volumes purchased individually, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Isaiah: The NIV Application Commentary, by John N. Oswalt.  ($17+, used; $30, new)
     For a technical study of Isaiah, Oswalt's two volume commentary in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament gets rave reviews. I am sure it is a tremendous contribution to the literature present on Isaiah, but I am content with his less technical study in The NIV Application series. I find Oswalt within this series to be accessible to and helpful for the teacher. I would have appreciated if Oswalt would have suggested more relevant heading titles within his "Original Meaning" section of the commentary.
     + Runner-up:  God Delivers: Isaiah Simply Explained (Welwyn Commentary Series), by Derek W. H. Thomas.  ($22, new)

* A supplemental resource that I highly recommend:  Get this.
1) Stump Kingdom: Isaiah 6-12, by Dale Ralph Davis.  ($15, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Jeremiah

Devotional - The Message of Jeremiah: The Bible Speaks Today, by Christopher J. H. Wright.  ($20, new)
     The strength of this commentary is demonstrating the flow and structure of Jeremiah and explicating the text in a clear fashion. Wright presents the historical background of the book, while also helping to show Jeremiah's prophetic voice as it pertains to Israel and the church. This is my favorite commentary on Jeremiah.
     + Runner-up:  Jeremiah & Lamentations: Thru the Bible, Volume 24, by J. Vernon McGee.  ($4, new)
    
Academic - Commentary on Jeremiah, by Andrew W. Blackwood, Jr.  ($5+, used)
     Blackwood's commentary is out of print and not well known, but I appreciate the thorough interpretation that he offers. Blackwood works through the book of Jeremiah verse-by-verse, phrase-by-phrase. Blackwood does not, however, provide much when it comes to illustrating the text or applying the text to today.
     + Runner-up:  The Book of Jeremiah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by J. A. Thompson.  ($11+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Jeremiah, Lamentations: The New American Commentary, by F. B. Huey.  ($15+, used)
     As a preacher/teacher, I would prefer to see Huey provide more relevant titles for his section outlines. That said, I value his clear section breaks and his reliable comments about the text. Huey further demonstrates a knack for weaving application into his explanation. For instance, in commenting on 1:9-10, Huey says: "It is often easy to be critical and negative toward the church and other institutions without offering constructive alternatives. Jeremiah was commissioned to do both. His effectiveness would be dependent on God's word, not on the prophet's ability or cleverness. God is never limited by a person's natural ability or experience" (52).
     + Runner-up:  Jeremiah & Lamentations: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by R. K. Harrison.  ($5+, used)

* Three supplemental resources that I highly recommend:  Get these.
1. Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best, by Eugene Peterson.  ($12, new)
2. True Word for Tough Times, by Dale Ralph Davis.  ($12, new)
3. Courage to Stand: Jeremiah's Message for Post-Christian Times, by Philip G. Ryken.  ($5+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Lamentations

Devotional - A Liturgy of Grief: A Pastoral Commentary on Lamentations, by Leslie C. Allen.  ($13, new)
     Allen's commentary on Lamentations does not follow the form of a traditional commentary; rather, he looks at the book through the lens of a clinical counselor. As a result, what you gain from a reading of this contribution to the literature on Lamentations is a decent understanding of the biblical book as well as an educated perspective on dealing with grief.
     + Runner-up:  Grief and Pain in the Plan of God: Christian Assurance and the Message of Lamentations, by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  ($4+, used)
     
Academic - Lamentations: The Anchor Bible, Volume 7a (Revised Edition), by Delbert R. Hillers.  ($10+, used)
     Hillers writes the most thorough treatment on the book of Lamentations as a person is likely to find. This truly fits the billing of a technical commentary, so it is more suited for someone wanting to study Lamentations from a scholastic or research-based perspective.
     + Runner-up:  Jeremiah, Lamentations (Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament), edited by J. Jeffery Tyler.  ($34+, new/used)

Preaching/Teaching - Lamentations: Great is Your Faithfulness (Welwyn Commentary Series), by Richard Brooks.  ($7, used; $13, new)
     Brooks dedicates 160 pages to the five chapters of Lamentations, and he does so in a way that connects the historical setting in which the book was written to our lives today. Not at all technical in nature, the preacher/teacher will still find much in the way of Christocentric interpretative insight. This is my favorite commentary on Lamentations.
     + Runner-up:  Jeremiah, Lamentations: The Communicator's Commentary, by John Guest.  ($4+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Ezekiel

Devotional - Ezekiel: The Daily Study Bible, by Peter C. Craigie.  ($4+, used)
     For someone wanting a succinct, straight forward, clear explanation of Ezekiel, start with Craigie. His insights are fresh and easy to understand, and his commentary serves as an excellent resource to accompany an individual's study of Ezekiel.
     + Runner-up:  Exalting Jesus in Ezekiel, by Landon Dowden.  ($13, new)
   
Academic - Ezekiel: Mastering the Old Testament, Volume 18, by Douglas Stuart.  ($4+, used)
     Keep in mind that this commentary does not actually fall into an academic or technical category. However, I place it here under that category because it is my third favorite commentary that I own on the book of Ezekiel. I almost chose Moshe Greenberg's treatment of the prophetic book here, but I only have the first of Greenberg's two volumes, which means I consult Stuart more frequently. Also, I would point out that most biblical scholars rate Daniel Block's two volume work on Ezekiel as the best available. However, a person can expect to pay around $100 (used or new) for Block's set. That is a bit too steep for me.
     + Runner-up:  Ezekiel 1-20: The Anchor Bible, Volume 22, by Moshe Greenberg.  ($10+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Ezekiel: The NIV Application Commentary, by Iain M. Duguid.  ($27, new)
     My favorite commentary on Ezekiel, Duguid is not overly technical while offering an insightful interpretation of the major prophet. He tackles sections of the text instead of walking verse-by-verse, but that does not detract from the thoroughness of his explanation about what is going on. Duguid also does a superb job of demonstrating the relevance of Ezekiel to our own lives.
     + Runner-up:  The Message of Ezekiel: The Bible Speaks Today, by Christopher J. H. Wright.  ($14, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Daniel

Devotional - The Message of Daniel: The Bible Speaks Today, by Dale Ralph Davis.  ($16, new)
     This commentary on Daniel does not cover every detail of the biblical text; it is only 176 pages, after all. Yet, Davis discusses the overarching message of Daniel in an understandable and, at times, humorous way. Where debate exists around certain passages, Davis is fair and measured. The strength of this commentary, though, is in how Davis time and time again makes the book of Daniel come alive for us. Indeed, this is a superb commentary to use to get ideas for application.
     + Runner-up:  Daniel: Expositional Commentary, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($5+, used)
    
AcademicDaniel: Mastering the Old Testament, Volume 19, by Sinclair Ferguson.  ($7+, used)
     Keep in mind that Ferguson's commentary would not typically fall under an "academic" heading. However, I do not really possess a technical commentary on Daniel. Yet, while Ferguson's treatment of Daniel does not deal much with technical matters, the depth of his insights help to clarify the historical and prophetical parts of the biblical book as well as any resource you can hope to find. It earns the title as my favorite commentary on Daniel.
     + Runner-up:  The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 7: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (1985), contributor Gleason L. Archer, Jr., edited by Frank E. Gaebelein.  ($12+, used)

Preaching/TeachingDaniel: The Story of God Bible Commentary, by Wendy L. Widder.  ($16, new)
     Widder focuses more on the historical meaning of Daniel and its relevance for today's church rather than get caught up in some of the debates that the book of Daniel often generates. She draws effectively from other conservative biblical sources in explaining the text. Further, she provides a number of good illustration ideas as well as pulls out some appropriate applications.
     + Runner-up:   Daniel: The NIV Application Commentary, by Tremper Longman III.  ($10+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Hosea

Devotional - The Message of Hosea: The Bible Speaks Today, by Derek Kidner.  ($8+, used; $15, new)
     Kidner's commentary on Hosea is concise, but it is also packed with sound exegesis. Further, he does delve into some of the Hebrew meaning of words (not in a technical manner) while also providing a good overview of how to teach the text. This is wonderful commentary to add to your library if doing a study through Hosea.
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)
     
AcademicHosea, Joel: The New American Commentary, by Duane A. Garrett.  ($14+, used)
     For a verse-by-verse reading of Hosea and Joel that helps the reader to understand the message of the two prophets, Garrett is who I would recommend. He is thorough and scholarly in his treatment of both biblical books, but he places the more technical information in his footnotes. As a result, he is accessible and readable to anyone while providing the more scholastic details that academics desire. Even though Garrett's work does not offer illustration or application ideas, his is my favorite commentary on Hosea as well as Joel.
     + Runner-up:  Hosea: A Commentary (The Old Testament Library), by James L. Mays.  ($4+, used)

Preaching/TeachingHosea: The Passion of God (Focus on the Bible), by Tim Chester.  ($13, new)
     Chester's work is easy and refreshing to read. His commentary could have easily gone under the devotional heading, but I place him in this category over Kidner because I believe Chester better draws relevant applications that prove especially helpful for a teacher or preacher.
     + Runner-up:  Hosea & Obadiah: Turning Back to God (Welwyn Commentary Series), by Michael Bentley.  ($6+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Joel

DevotionalExploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary, by John Phillips.  ($11+, used)
     Phillips does not write extensively on Joel, as he only devotes 15 pages to the minor prophet. Thus, anyone teaching or preaching through Nahum would need more meat than what Phillips (or the runner-up Boice) provides. Phillips does, however, outline the minor prophet well, and he clearly summarizes the overarching message of Nahum. If you are just looking to get a broad understanding of the text (as well as the gist of each of the minor prophets, for that matter), Phillips succeeds at accomplishing that. 
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)
     
Academic - Hosea, Joel: The New American Commentary, by Duane A. Garrett.  ($12+, used)
     As stated in my previous post on Hosea: "For a verse-by-verse reading of Hosea and Joel that helps the reader to understand the message of the two prophets, Garrett is who I would recommend. He is thorough and scholarly in his treatment of both biblical books, but he places the more technical information in his footnotes. As a result, he is accessible and readable to anyone while providing the more scholastic details that academics desire. Even though Garrett's work does not offer illustration or application ideas, his is my favorite commentary on Hosea as well as Joel."
     + Runner-up:  The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by Leslie C. Allen.  ($5+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Joel & Obadiah: A Mentor Commentary, by Irvin A. Busentiz.  ($10+, used; $25, new)
     The lay-out of this commentary does not lend itself completely to one that I typically recommend under the preaching/teaching category. Busenitz fails to offer much in the way of illustration or application, but his content is rich and he divides the text appropriately (albeit his heading breaks are not put forward in a relevant manner for today's audience). The strength of this commentary is that Busenitz thoroughly explains the two minor prophets in a way that anyone can understand even while exploring academic matters pertaining to Hebrew language, history, and culture. In other words, he gives plenty of insight from which a good teacher/preacher can pull from to help in building a solid exposition of Joel and Obadiah.
     + Runner-up:  Joel & Amos: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by David Allan Hubbard.  ($4+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Amos

DevotionalThe Message of Amos: The Bible Speaks Today, by J. A. Motyer.  ($15, new)
     Motyer does not concern himself with Hebrew word studies or literary structure in his treatment of Amos, but he does provide a lucid explanation of the overarching themes and message of the minor prophet. Although he also fails to offer ideas for illustration, he writes in a powerful, convicting manner that will appeal to your heart as well as your head. 
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)
     
Academic - Amos: The Anchor Yale Bible, Volume 24a, by Francis I. Andersen and David Noel Freedman.  ($13+, used)
     This is the most scholarly treatment of Amos you will find, but it is long and tedious and primarily intended for those doing in-depth research on the minor prophet. In spite of the wealth of information in this commentary, that information is formatted in such a way that makes accessing it difficult. Still, if you are doing a detailed study of Amos, this is an excellent resource to have at your disposal.  
     + Runner-up:  Joel & Amos: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by David Allan Hubbard.  ($4+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Amos: An Ordinary Man with an Extraordinary Message (Focus on the Bible), by T. J. Betts.  ($11+, used)
     The strength of this commentary exists in the application to the church today. For that reason, it is my favorite commentary on Amos. Beyond that, Betts also does a great job of explaining the text of the minor prophet without getting technical. As a result, Betts has written an exegetically sound, applicable, and readable contribution to the literature on Amos.
     + Runner-up:  Exploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary, by John Phillips.  ($11+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Obadiah

DevotionalThe Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)
     Throughout, you will find that I rate Boice's two volume set as runner-up to the devotional treatment of the minor prophets, except here where I list him for having written my favorite commentary on Obadiah. All of his pithy reflections on each minor prophet are worth consulting because Boice is consistently insightful, pastoral, and relevant while faithfully drawing our attention to life this side of the cross. Buy this set.
     + Runner-up:  Obadiah through Malachi: Westminster Bible Companion, by William P. Brown.  ($4+, used)
     
Academic - Obadiah: The Kingship Belongs to Yhwh, by Daniel I. Block.  ($12, new)
     For someone seeking a full understanding of Obadiah, look no further than Block's commentary. Albeit I think he is often too verbose and unnecessarily technical in places and that he also lacks helpful illustration and application ideas, he appropriately analyzes the structure and literary form of the biblical book and thoroughly explains the text in light of Hebrew language and culture. Because of its sheer attention to detail, I highly recommend Block's scholastic treatment of Obadiah.
     + Runner-up:  The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by Leslie C. Allen.  ($5+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Joel & Obadiah: A Mentor Commentary, by Irvin A Busenitz.  ($12+, used; $25, new)
     Per my recommendation of Busenitz concerning his work on Joel:  "The lay-out of this commentary does not lend itself completely to one that I typically recommend under the preaching/teaching category. Busenitz fails to offer much in the way of illustration or application, but his content is rich and he divides the text appropriately (albeit his heading breaks are not put forward in a relevant manner for today's audience). The strength of this commentary is that Busenitz thoroughly explains the two minor prophets in a way that anyone can understand even while exploring academic matters pertaining to Hebrew language, history, and culture. In other words, he gives plenty of insight from which a good teacher/preacher can pull from to help in building a solid exposition of Joel and Obadiah."
     + Runner-up:  Hosea & Obadiah: Turning Back to God (Welwyn Commentary Series), by Michael Bentley.  ($6+, used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Jonah

DevotionalMan Overboard! The Story of Jonah, by Sinclair B. Ferguson.  ($12, new)
     At only 100 pages, Ferguson's commentary on Jonah is definitely concise. Although it would not be sufficient as a stand alone commentary, Ferguson presents a sound overview of the minor prophet. Where he lacks somewhat in depth of exegesis, he is helpful in connecting the text to us. A good devotional supplement to anyone's study in Jonah.
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)

Academic - Jonah: The Anchor Yale Bible, Volume 24b, by Jack M. Sasson.  ($28, used)
     Sasson offers one of the most thorough, if not the most thorough, scholarly treatments of Jonah. While his technical/academic treatment of the minor prophet at various places in the commentary will likely not appeal to the layperson, other sections of Sasson's commentary are accessible to anyone. In the interpretation part of the commentary, where he goes phrase-by-phrase in explaining the text, Sasson offers a number of fresh thoughts. Because I appreciate the thoroughness and originality of Sasson's work, I rate it as my favorite "traditional" commentary on Jonah with Peterson's non-traditional contribution mentioned below as my favorite resource overall. 
     + Runner-up:  The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by Leslie C. Allen.  ($5+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: The NIV Application Commentary, by James Bruckner.  ($23, new)
     Bruckner has written a really good, accessible commentary on four of the minor prophets. In fact, I consider his work on Jonah as the best available resource for someone looking for help planning lessons on this particular biblical book. Whereas I differ with some of Bruckner's interpretative conclusions on Jonah, he holds to a pretty conventional and conservative perspective. Also, in a few instances I do not follow the flow of his thoughts, but he does always land the proverbial plane where he connects the text to our lives today.
     + Runner-up:  Jonah: An Exposition (The Lessons of Jonah for the Church Today), by R. T. Kendall.  ($4+, used)

* A supplemental resource that I highly recommend:  Get this.
1. Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness, by Eugene Peterson.  ($16, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Micah

Devotional - Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: God's Just Demands (Focus on the Bible), by John L. Mackay.  ($6, used; $15, new)
     A person honestly cannot go wrong with any of Mackay's writings on the minor prophets. I recommend him highly for a straight-forward, clear, and theologically accurate interpretation. He does not concern himself too much with critical or technical matters, but he deals with the original language where appropriate, and he addresses difficult texts when needed. 
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)
     
Academic - Commentary on Micah, by Bruce K. Waltke.  ($28, new)
     Waltke's engagement with Micah is exhaustive as he devotes over 400 pages to the exegesis and exposition of the minor prophet's seven chapters. He has an exegetical section that is highly technical, dealing with the Hebrew language and other scholarship: this part of his commentary would appeal to those doing scholarly research on Micah. He follows up his exegetical sections with comments devoted to practical exposition. Even with his exposition, however, Waltke reads like an academic (some of his word choices almost come across as pretentious), so you have to sift through this work to pull out practical applications whenever teaching/preaching on Micah. The average reader will certainly find this commentary more tedious than the others that I list, but no other resource exists that provides the breadth and depth on Micah like Waltke's contribution.
     + Runner-up:  The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by Leslie C. Allen.  ($5+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Micah: The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary, by Stephen G. Dempster.  ($20, new)
     At the onset of his commentary, Dempster states: "Yes, this book is about Israel and Judah in the eighth century BCE but it is primarily about 'the word of Yahweh'" (58). And what I value about Dempster's contribution to the literature on Micah is that he effectively communicates the meaning of Yahweh's word at the time when the prophet spoke (marked Interpretation - Micah's Word Then) as well as the meaning of Yahweh's word to us today (marked Interpretation - Micah's Word Now). Dempster reads a bit more scholarly and theological in places than some individuals who are strictly seeking an expositional resource might like, but he has penned my favorite commentary on Micah.
     + Runner-up:  Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah: Holman Old Testament Commentary, Volume 19, by Trent C. Butler.  ($10+, used; $19, new)

* A supplemental resource that I highly recommend:  Get this.
1) Sermons on the Book of Micah, by John Calvin, translated and edited by Benjamin W. Farley. ($13+, new/used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Nahum

Devotional - Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: God's Just Demands (Focus on the Bible), by John L. Mackay.  ($6, used; $15, new)
     As I indicated in recommending Mackay for best devotional commentary on Micah: "A person honestly cannot go wrong with any of Mackay's writings on the minor prophets. I recommend him highly for a straight-forward, clear, and theologically accurate interpretation. He does not concern himself too much with critical or technical matters, but he deals with the original language where appropriate, and he addresses difficult texts when needed." 
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)
     
AcademicNahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary, by Richard D. Patterson.  ($30, new)
     I list Patterson as my favorite academic treatment of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. I value his engagement with the Hebrew in a manner that is understandable for individuals with or without a working knowledge of the original language. I also appreciate the manner in which Patterson, where appropriate, points to connections that each of the three minor prophets have to other biblical texts. Finally, Patterson helps to bring to light a better understanding of historical and cultural matters. Because of the depth he offers on Nahum, I would probably assign to him the title of my favorite commentary for this particular minor prophet.
     + Runner-up:  Nahum: The Anchor Yale Bible, Volume 24f, by Duane L. Christensen.  ($11+, new/used)

Preaching/Teaching - Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: The NIV Application Commentary, by James Bruckner.  ($23, new)
     In some ways, a person might consider Nahum to be a follow-up book to Jonah. In light of that, it may not be a surprise that where Bruckner got my nod for best preaching/teaching commentary for Jonah, he also earns that badge for Nahum. Just as he does in dealing with Jonah, Bruckner offers a consistent, conservative, fairly conventional interpretation of Nahum. The teacher/preacher will gain a number of practical insights from Bruckner's contribution to the literature on Nahum.
     + Runner-up:  The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by O. Palmer Robertson.  ($32, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Habakkuk

Devotional - Habakkuk: The Expectant Prophet (Welwyn Commentary Series), by John Currid.  ($13, new)
     John Currid clearly and beautifully explains the book of Habakkuk in a verse-by-verse fashion. Consistent with the Welwyn series, Currid concludes each chapter of his commentary with a "Points to Ponder" section that draws out application of the biblical text for today. This is my favorite commentary on Habakkuk.
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)
     
AcademicNahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary, by Richard D. Patterson.  ($30, new)
     As written on the Nahum post: "I list Patterson as my favorite academic treatment of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. I value his engagement with the Hebrew in a manner that is understandable for individuals with or without a working knowledge of the original language. I also appreciate the manner in which Patterson, where appropriate, points to connections that each of the three minor prophets have to other biblical texts. Finally, Patterson helps to bring to light a better understanding of historical and cultural matters."
     + Runner-up:  Commentary on the Old Testament: Minor Prophets, Volume 10, by C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch.  ($6+, used)

Preaching/TeachingThe Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by O. Palmer Robertson.  ($32, new)
     While I did not find Robertson's treatment of Nahum that engaging, his interpretations and applications of Habakkuk and Zephaniah stand out for their theological and practical precision. He goes verse-by-verse through each of the three minor prophets addressed in this commentary, connecting their messages to the underlying theme(s) of the book. Whereas some commentaries in the NICOT read somewhat technical, I find Robertson to be quite accessible to persons of all levels of training.
     + Runner-up: Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: The NIV Application Commentary, by James Bruckner.  ($23, new)

* A supplemental resource worth consulting:
1. Habakkuk: The Cry of Crisis, the Song of Victory, by Lucille Anderson.  ($12, new)

Top 3 Commentaries on Zephaniah

Devotional - The Coming of the Warrior-King: Zephaniah Simply Explained (Welwyn Commentary Series), by Daniel Webber.  ($10, new)
     Webber has written my favorite commentary on the book of Zephaniah. He walks through the text in a verse-by-verse manner, providing in-depth insights in a non-technical manner. The best part of the commentary falls under his "Points to Ponder," where he applies each passage that he explains to our lives today. This is an excellent, clear commentary on Zephaniah, and I think the best you will find.
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)
   
AcademicNahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary, by Richard D. Patterson.  ($30, new)
     As written on the previous posts for Nahum and Habakkuk: "I list Patterson as my favorite academic treatment of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. I value his engagement with the Hebrew in a manner that is understandable for individuals with or without a working knowledge of the original language. I also appreciate the manner in which Patterson, where appropriate, points to connections that each of the three minor prophets have to other biblical texts. Finally, Patterson helps to bring to light a better understanding of historical and cultural matters."
     + Runner-up:  Commentary on the Old Testament: Minor Prophets, Volume 10, by C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch.  ($6+, used)

Preaching/TeachingThe Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by O. Palmer Robertson.  ($32, new)
     Per my remarks on Robertson regarding Habakkuk: "While I was not engaged by Robertson's treatment of Nahum, his interpretations and applications of Habakkuk and Zephaniah stand out for their theological and practical precision. He goes verse-by-verse through each of the three minor prophets addressed in this commentary, connecting their messages to the underlying theme(s) of the book. Whereas some commentaries in the NICOT read somewhat technical, I find Robertson to be quite accessible to persons of all levels of training."
     + Runner-up: Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: The NIV Application Commentary, by James Bruckner.  ($23, new)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Top 3 Commentaries on Haggai

Devotional - The Message of Ezra & Haggai: The Bible Speaks Today, by Robert Fyall. ($18, new)
     Fyall's exposition on Haggai is about 40 pages. It is devotional in nature while providing a helpful outline for teaching purposes. That being said, the section titles he suggests are not particularly applicable to an audience for today, and his paragraphs under each heading only serve as a summation of the verses in view. Basically, he does not explore the book in depth, but he clearly and concisely offers a sound overview of the book of Haggai. It is a wonderful resource for personal Bible study. (His work on Ezra also earned my vote as best devotional commentary on that biblical book).
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)

Academic - The Books of Haggai and Malachi: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by Pieter Verhoef.  ($12+, used)
     Do not pick this commentary up thinking that you will get from it outlines for your sermons/lessons. This is not easy sledding, per say. What you get is superb insights on how Haggai fits within the broader scope of Israel's history. He also addresses some of the more critical questions that some scholars raise. Sometimes the language in this commentary reads a bit tedious for my taste, and you should not expect much in the way of practical application (both cons). Yet, Verhoeff does a superb job on identifying and addressing technical matters as they pertain to the book of Haggai. With an introduction of 40 pages and a textual commentary of over 100 pages, Verhoef does not leave many stones unturned in his study of Haggai's two chapters.
     + Runner-up:  Haggai, Malachi: The New American Commentary by Richard A. Taylor and E. Ray Clendenen.  ($14+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Haggai, Zechariah, & Malachi: God's Restored People (Focus on the Bible), by John Mackay.  ($17, new)
     I give Mackay second place for his commentary on Zechariah, but I would rank him as my favorite commentary on Haggai. If a person was on a budget, I would probably encourage him or her to get Mackay on Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (even though I did not place him in the top three for Malachi). I agree completely with how Mackay breaks the text of Haggai for teaching & preaching purposes. While he does not offer any concrete application (disappointing), his exposition does lead to some very practical conclusions for today's church. Just be prepared to pull out the applications for yourself.
     + Runner-up:  Haggai & Zechariah: Building for God's Glory (Welwyn Commentary Series), by Michael Bentley.  ($8+, new/used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Zechariah

Devotional - The Message of Zechariah: The Bible Speaks Today, by Barry G. Webb.  ($17, new)
     Webb writes an insightful and, at times, moving commentary on Zechariah. It is my favorite commentary on this minor prophet. The 30 page introduction does a great job setting the stage for Zechariah. Webb then breaks the biblical book into two main sections (chapters 1-6 and chapters 7-14). His writing style is clear and to the point, and you are certainly left to see how Zechariah directs our hearts to Jesus. Commenting on the last few verses of chapter 12, Webb explains: "We are dealing with things inexpressible. How could God be pierced? And even granting the possibility, how could His own people do such a violent act unwittingly, and how and when will they look on the One they have pierced? No answers are given here, but this is not the whole story. Zechariah has not yet said all he has to say about this matter; we have not reached the end of his book yet! And some things presently obscure will become clear only in light of a dawn that will break much later" (160-161).
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)

AcademicGod Remembers: A Study of Zechariah, by Charles Lee Feinberg.  ($25, new reprint)
     I am not sure Feinberg's commentary deserves an "academic" label, but as my third favorite work on Zechariah, I had to fit it somewhere. And Feinberg does deal more with the Hebrew language than Webb or Mackay; sometimes, though, I don't see the necessity of it. For instance, he begins his remarks on 5:1 as follows: "For the meaning of shubh as the adverb 'again' we find other examples in Genesis 26:18; 2 Kings 1:11, 13; and Jeremiah 18:14." That's fine and dandy, but not really needed. Still, Feinberg, holding to a premillennial dispensationalist perspective, at least gets the reader thinking about how Zechariah's prophecies could link to Christ ... and that's always worthwhile whether you agree with him or not.
     + Runner-up:  Commentary on the Old Testament: Minor Prophets, Volume 10, by C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch.  ($6+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Haggai, Zechariah, & Malachi: God's Restored People (Focus on the Bible), by John L. Mackay.  ($17, new)
     Albeit part of a commentary on three books, Mackay spends 250 pages on Zechariah. Not unlike Webb, Mackay does an excellent job of showing how Zechariah directs our hearts to Jesus. Mackay's treatment of the minor prophet is a close second place for me. Helpful for the teacher, Mackay ends each chapter with a few study questions for reflection.
     + Runner-up:  Haggai & Zechariah: Building for God's Glory (Welwyn Commentary Series), by Michael Bentley.  ($8+, new/used)

Top 3 Commentaries on Malachi

Devotional - Micah-Malachi: The Communicator's Commentary, Volume 21, by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  ($12+, used)
     Kaiser has written a full-length 170 page book titled Malachi: God's Unchanging Love ($20+, used). A number of people speak highly of Kaiser's longer volume for its devotional and pastoral merits. Not owning Kaiser's longer work and never having read it, his treatment of Malachi in the Communicator's Commentary must suffice for me. Only about 50 pages in length, Kaiser does not provide near the depth a student will find in other commentaries. Nevertheless, Kaiser gives a good overview of Malachi, both convicting and encouraging the reader throughout.
     + Runner-up:  The Minor Prophets, Volumes 1 & 2, by James Montgomery Boice.  ($25 for the two books purchased separately, used; $39 for the set, new)

Academic - Haggai, Malachi: The New American Commentary by Richard A. Taylor and E. Ray Clendenen.  ($14+, used)
     Clendenen writes the Malachi portion of this commentary, and he is thorough in his assessment. He relegates what some people might classify as theological minutiae to the footnotes. Still, his verse-by-verse explanation addresses the historical and literary matters of the text and deals with the Hebrew culture and language in appropriate detail. Individuals, however, should neither expect this to have a devotional feel nor to find much practical application from it. My favorite aspect of this commentary is found in the Excursuses that Clendenen includes amid his explanations of Malachi. For instance, he presents a good treatment on the topic of Divine Impassibility.
     + Runner-up:  The Books of Haggai and Malachi: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, by Pieter Verhoef.  ($12+, used)

Preaching/Teaching - Malachi Then and Now: An Expository Commentary Based on Detailed Exegetical Analysis, by Allen P. Ross.  ($13, new)
     Overall, this is easily my favorite commentary on Malachi. He explains the Hebrew meaning of key words and phrases in each section break before offering a commentary in expository form. Personally, I believe the suggestions he offers for headings of sermon points are often a bit too wordy, but this commentary does an incredible job of showing how to take quality exegesis and produce sound exposition. Finally, the applications he brings to bear sting a little. A concluding connection he makes from Malachi 1:6-14 to today's church reads: "Too many churches never even consider the subject of worship -- they just keep doing what they have always done, and it becomes a drudgery. This passage warns of that danger, for if worship is dead and worthless, God will turn to bless others who will honor His name. This is why there are so many dead churches carrying on as usual, but without divine power" (68).
     + Runner-up:  Haggai, Zechariah, & Malachi: God's Restored People (Focus on the Bible), by John L. Mackay.  ($17, new)