Thursday, January 7, 2010

Favorite Commentaries That Are Not

Commentaries provide background information, application, theological reflection, or other reference material on a particular book or section of the Bible. As a pastor, I use a bunch of them. Occasionally you work through one in its entirety, but mostly they’re the kind of books you pull them down on an as-needed basis.

But some books function as commentaries for me, although it wasn’t necessarily the intent of the author. They were not intended to be reference books, but they are so useful I keep returning to them again and again.

Here are some favorites.

1) The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright. This is a book of enormous scope, providing a wealth of historical research into many aspects of Old and New Testament theology, specifically concerning the resurrection/afterlife. It has massive apologetic value. His overview of the four gospels near the end is incredibly helpful.

2) Desiring God by John Piper. He covers a lot of ground on major practical topics such as prayer, worship, marriage – all through the lens of mankind’s highest joy and chief end.

3) How Long, O Lord? by D.A. Carson. In preaching, we frequently need to address suffering and the goodness of God. People have questions and struggles here. This book covers these topics from so many biblical angles, and contains the best chapters on God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility that I’ve ever found.

4) The Empowering Spirit by Gordon Fee. Closest thing to a commentary on this list, this book goes over all the discussions of the Spirit in the Pauline epistles. I pulled it down the other day to see what he had to say about Galatians 5 concerning the fruit of the Spirit, for example.

5) The Cross in the New Testament by Leon Morris, and--

6) The Death of Jesus in Early Christianity by John Carroll and Joel Green. Both these books survey the New Testament and help give you see the most important theme of all—Jesus’ atonement.

7) The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema. Excellent resource for eschatology, including issues such as heaven, hell, millennium, eternal life, new heaven and earth. Has a great chapter arguing for the amillennial position, by the way.

ALSO: In a category and weight class all its own is the ESV Study Bible. This is what I'd recommend to someone who wants a commentary on the entire Bible, because it's all that and more.


Jeff said...

fun list. I would add "Jesus and the Victory of God" by Wright. It touches on almost every passage in the synoptic gospels.

Also Knowing God by Packer.

Ken said...

"Knowing God" almost made it on there. Also "The Pleasures of God" by Piper... Pretty much anything by Piper, esp since he has Scripture reference indexes (sp?) in the back of each book.

Aubrey said...

i believe the plural is "indices."

You're welcome.

I do love the ESV study bible. I'm using now to read through 2 samuel. It's excellent and very helpful for some difficult passages.