A Basic Biblical Library for Students and Teachers

Bible Study Tools Part 7

Bible Study Tools: Part 7

Our series on Bible study tools has looked at hundreds of resources. Some are designed for pastors and teachers, while others were written to help everyday Christians who want to better understand the Bible and how to live the Christian life.

Three criteria were used to create the basic library suggested below: the books chosen had to be concise, accurate, and easy to understand. My best advice is to take your time and do lots of research.

The first and most important tool to purchase is a primary Bible. This is the Bible you read everyday and use for study. Choose a word-for-word translation (read part 1 for more info). My preference is the English Standard Version (ESV).

After you pick a translation, consider the format–I strongly recommend a Bible that has no notes. If you buy a study Bible as your primary Bible, you will be tempted to read it from the bottom up. I love the clean lines and readability of the ESV Single Column Legacy Bible (Crossway).

The next purchase for many people is a study Bible. The advantage of study Bibles is having a lot of info in one place, but I am not a fan of most of them. They are too cumbersome to lug around and often don’t answer my questions. The one study Bible I recommend without reservation is the Thompson Chain Reference. It is not bulky, and, more importantly, it allows Scripture to interpret Scripture.

The heart of your library will be your commentary collection. I am in the process of putting together a commentary list that will include info on each book to help you make a more informed decision. Meanwhile, here’s my short list of commentaries that are concise, accurate, and easy-to-understand. If you are new to Bible study, these books provide an excellent entry point:

  • Genesis: J. Walton, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Exodus: P. Enns, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Leviticus: R. Gane, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Numbers: G. Wenham, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), IVP.

  • Deuteronomy: C. Wright, Understanding the Bible Old Testament (UBOT), Hendrickson.

  • Joshua: R. Hess, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), IVP.

  • Judges: K.L. Younger, NIV Application Commentary, Judges/Ruth (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Ruth: K.L. Younger, NIV Application Commentary, Judges/Ruth (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • 1–2 Samuel: B. Arnold, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • 1–2 Kings: I. Provan, Understanding the Bible Old Testament (UBOT), Hendrickson.

  • 1–2 Chronicles: A.E. Hill, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Ezra: D. Kidner, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Ezra/Nehemiah (TOTC), IVP.

  • Nehemiah: D. Kidner, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Ezra/Nehemiah (TOTC), IVP.

  • Esther: K. Jobes, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Job: F. Anderson, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), IVP.

  • Psalms: D. Kidner, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), 2 volumes, IVP.

  • Proverbs: R. Ortland, Preaching the Word (PtW), Crossway.

  • Ecclesiastes: D. Kidner, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

  • Song of Songs: T. Gledhill, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

  • Isaiah: B. Webb, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

  • Jeremiah: R.K. Harrison, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Jeremiah/Lamentations (TOTC), IVP.

  • Lamentations: R.K. Harrison, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Jeremiah/Lamentations (TOTC), IVP.

  • Ezekiel: I.M. Duguid, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Daniel: T. Longman, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Hosea: G. Smith, NIV Application Commentary, Hosea/Amos/Micah (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Joel: D. Baker, NIV Application Commentary, Joel/Obadiah/Malachi (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Amos: G. Smith, NIV Application Commentary, Hosea/Amos/Micah (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Obadiah: D. Baker, NIV Application Commentary, Joel/Obadiah/Malachi (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Jonah: T.D. Alexander, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries Obadiah/Jonah/Micah (TOTC), IVP.

  • Micah: G. Smith, NIV Application Commentary, Hosea/Amos/Micah (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Nahum: J. Bruckner, NIV Application Commentary Jonah/Nahum/Habakkuk/Zephaniah (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Habakkuk: J. Bruckner, NIV Application Commentary Jonah/Nahum/Habakkuk/Zephaniah (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Zephaniah: J. Bruckner, NIV Application Commentary Jonah/Nahum/Habakkuk/Zephaniah (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Haggai: J. Baldwin, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries Haggai/Zechariah/Malachi (TOTC), IVP.

  • Zechariah: B. Webb, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

  • Malachi: D. Baker, NIV Application Commentary, Joel/Obadiah/Malachi (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Matthew: D.A. Carson, Expositors Bible Commentary revised (EBCr), Zondervan.

  • Mark: D. Garland, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Luke: D. Bock, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • John: G. Burge, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Acts: J. Stott, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

  • Romans: J. Stott, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

  • 1 Corinthians: C. Blomberg, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • 2 Corinthians: L. Belleville, IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNTC), IVP.

  • Galatians: J. Stott, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

  • Ephesians: K. Snodgrass, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Philippians: F. Theilman, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • Colossians & Philemon: D. Garland, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC).

  • 1–2 Thessalonians: G.K. Beale, IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNTC), IVP.

  • 1–2 Timothy & Titus: J. Stott, Bible Speaks Today (BST), 2 volumes, IVP.

  • Hebrews: G. Guthrie, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • James: J.A. Motyer, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

  • 1 Peter: I.H. Marshall, IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNTC).

  • 2 Peter & Jude: D. Moo, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

  • 1–3 John: J. Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC), IVP.

  • Revelation: C. Keener, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

To round out your library, add some resources that focus on cultural background (history, geography, climate, social norms, economics, customs, politics, etc.), and linguistics (concordances, dictionaries, lexicons, etc.):

  • A good place to start investigating the historical and cultural background of a text is a Bible Handbook. These provide info (arranged alphabetically) on the significant people, places, and things mentioned in Scripture. Get the 2014 revision of Halley’s Bible Handbook (Zondervan). The information is similar to that found in study Bibles, but I prefer to use a Bible handbook and a Bible without notes because the two are less cumbersome than a study Bible, and the notes in the handbook are more detailed.

  • Another essential resource is a Bible Atlas–my favorite is the Carta Bible Atlas, fifth edition, revised 2011 (Carta Jerusalem).

  • The commentaries recommended above will provide sufficient answers to most language questions, but I suggest having a copy of Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament in your library for quick reference.

  • The only other language aid you will need is a concordance that matches your primary Bible translation.

Next: An advanced biblical library for teachers and students

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