Old Testament commentaries: the best of the best

Bible study tools part 5

Bible study tools: Part 5

My recommendations for commentaries are separated into 3 groups:

  • Introductory–the primary focus is application of the Word and growing in Christ. Lots of “how to” questions are answered.
  • Intermediate–these commentaries also contain application but are more information oriented. Some go deep into the history or cultural background of the text, while others pay more attention to linguistics. Lots of “what does it mean” questions are answered. Useful for any Christ follower and especially helpful to those who teach.
  • Technical–primary value is to teachers and advanced students. Some focus on the reliability of the text (textual criticism), while others examine the text itself (linguistics). Lots of minutiae. These commentaries contain ancient Hebrew text and require at least some familiarity with the language to extract their full benefit, but even those with no knowledge of the Hebrew language will find valuable insights.

Genesis

Introductory: J. Walton, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan. Or get R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, Crossway.

Intermediate: K. Mathews, New American Commentary (NAC), 2 volumes, Broadman. Or get A.P Ross, Creation and Blessing, Baker Academic.

Technical: V. Hamilton, New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 2 volumes (NICOT), Eerdmans. Or get G. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), 2 volumes, Nelson.

Exodus

Introductory: P.G. Ryken, Exodus: Saved For God’s Glory, Crossway. Or get J.A. Motyer, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

Intermediate: D. Stuart, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: Technical: V. Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, Baker. Or get J. Durham, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Nelson.

Leviticus

Introductory: D. Tidball, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

Intermediate: M. Rooker, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: G. Wenham, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans.

Numbers

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

Intermediate: I.M. Duguid, Preaching the Word (PtW), Crossway.

Technical: T. Ashley, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans.

Deuteronomy

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

Intermediate: E. Merrill, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman. Or get D. Block, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

Technical: P. Craigie, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans.

Joshua

Introductory: R. Hess, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), IVP. Or get D.R. Davis, Focus on the Bible (FB), Christian Focus.

Intermediate: D. Howard, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman. Or get R. Hubbard, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

Technical: M. Woudstra, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans.

Judges

Introductory: K.L. Younger, NIV Application Commentary Judges/Ruth (NIVAC), Zondervan. Or get D.R. Davis, Focus on the Bible (FB), Christian Focus.

Intermediate: D. Block, New American Commentary Judges/Ruth (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: B. Webb, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans.

Ruth

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

Intermediate: D. Block, New American Commentary Judges/Ruth (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: R. Hubbard, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans.

1 & 2 Samuel

Introductory: J. Baldwin, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), IVP. Or get D.R. Davis, Focus on the Bible, two volumes (FB), Christian Focus.

Intermediate: R.D. Bergen, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman. Or get B. Arnold, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan.

Technical: J. Robert Vannoy, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary (CBN), Tyndale. For linguistics get D. Tsumura, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), 1 Samuel only, Eerdmans. 

1 & 2 Kings

Introductory: I. Provan, Understanding the Bible Old Testament (UBOT), Hendrickson. Or get D.R. Davis, Focus on the Bible, two volumes (FB), Christian Focus.

Intermediate: P. House, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: S. DeVries and T. Hobbs, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), 2 volumes, Nelson.

1 & 2 Chronicles

Introductory: M. Selman, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), 2 volumes, IVP.

Intermediate: A. Hill, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan. Or get J. Thompson, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: M. Boda in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary (CBC), Tyndale.

Ezra and Nehemiah

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

Intermediate: M. Breneman, New American Commentary Ezra/Nehemiah/Esther (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: H.G.M. Williamson, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Nelson.

Esther

Introductory: J. Baldwin, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), IVP.

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

Technical: F. Bush, Word Biblical Commentary Ruth/Esther (WBC), Nelson.

Job

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

Intermediate: J.H. Walton, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan. Or get R. Alden, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: J. Hartley, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans.

Psalms

Introductory: Tremper Longman III, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), IVP. Or get D. Kidner, Classic Commentaries, 2 volumes, IVP.

Intermediate: W. VanGemeren, Expositors Bible Commentary, revised (EBCr), Zondervan. Or get C. Hassell Bullock, Teach the Text Commentary Series (2 volumes, Baker).

Technical: P. Craigie, M. Tate, and L. Allen, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), 3 volumes, Nelson. 

Proverbs

Introductory: D. Kidner, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), IVP. Or get R. Ortland, Preaching the Word (PtW), Crossway.

Intermediate: P. Koptak, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan. Or get T. Longman, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms (BCOTWP), Baker. Technical: B. Waltke, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), two volumes, Eerdmans.

Ecclesiastes

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

Intermediate: D. Garrett, New American Commentary, Proverbs/Ecclesiastes/Song of Songs (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: C. Bartholomew, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms (BCOTWP), Baker. Or get C. Seow, Anchor Yale Bible (AYB), Yale University Press.

Song of Songs

Introductory: T. Gledhill, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

Intermediate: Iain Daguid, Reformed Expository Commentary (REC), P & R Publishing.

Technical: R. Hess, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms (BCOTWP), Baker. 

Isaiah

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

Intermediate: J.A. Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary, IVP.

Technical: J. Oswalt, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), 2 volumes, Eerdmans.

Jeremiah

Introductory: C. Wright, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP. Or get Hetty Lalleman in the the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Jeremiah/Lamentations (TOTC), IVP.

Intermediate: P. Ryken, Preaching the Word, Jeremiah/Lamentations (PtW), Crossway.

Technical: J.L. MacKay, Mentor Old Testament (two volumes, Mentor). Or get J. Thompson, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans. 

Lamentations

Introductory: C. Wright, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP. Or get Hetty Lalleman in the the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Jeremiah/Lamentations (TOTC), IVP.

Intermediate: P. Ryken, Preaching the Word, Jeremiah/Lamentations (PtW), Crossway. Or get B. Webb, Five Festal Garments: Christian Reflections on the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther, IVP Academic.

Technical: J.L. MacKay, Mentor Old Testament (MOT), Mentor. Or get P. House, Word Biblical Commentary, Song of Songs/Lamentations (WBC), Nelson. 

Ezekiel

Introductory: C. Wright, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP.

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

Technical: D. Block, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), 2 volumes, Eerdmans.

Daniel

Introductory: I.M. Duguid, Reformed Expository Commentary (REC) Zondervan.

Intermediate: S. Miller, New American Commentary (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: J. Goldingay, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Nelson.

Hosea

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

Intermediate: D. Garrett, New American Commentary, Hosea/Joel (NAC), Broadman. Or get G. Smith, NIV Application Commentary, Hosea/Amos/Micah (NIVAC), Zondervan.

Technical: D. Stuart, Word Biblical Commentary, Hosea/Joel/Amos/Obadiah/Jonah (WBC), Nelson. Or get Thomas McComiskey, The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary (ed. T. McComiskey. Baker). 

Joel

Introductory: David Prior, Bible Speaks Today Joel/Micah/Habakkuk (BST), IVP. Or get D. Hubbard, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Joel/Amos (TOTC), IVP.

Intermediate: D. Garrett, New American Commentary, Hosea/Joel (NAC), Broadman. Or get D.W. Baker, NIV Application Commentary, Joel/Obadiah/Malachi (NIVAC), Zondervan.

Technical: D. Stuart, Word Biblical Commentary, Hosea/Joel/Amos/Obadiah/Jonah (WBC), Nelson. Or get R. Dillard, The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary (ed. T. McComiskey. Baker).

Amos

Introductory: J. A. Motyer, Bible Speaks Today (BST). Or get D. Hubbard, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Joel/Amos (TOTC), IVP.

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

Technical: D. Stuart, Word Biblical Commentary, Hosea/Joel/Amos/Obadiah/Jonah (WBC), Nelson. Or get J. Niehaus, The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary (ed. T. McComiskey. Baker).

Obadiah

Introductory: D.W. Baker, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Obadiah/Jonah/Micah (TOTC), IVP.

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

Technical: D. Block, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament (ZECOT), Zondervan.

Jonah

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

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

Technical: K. Youngblood, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament (ZECOT), Zondervan. Or get D. Stuart, Word Biblical Commentary, Hosea/Joel/Amos/Obadiah/Jonah (WBC), Nelson.

Micah

Introductory: B. Waltke, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries Obadiah/Jonah/Micah (TOTC), IVP.

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

Technical: B. Waltke, A Commentary on Micah, Eerdmans.

Nahum/Habakkuk/Zephaniah

Introductory: D. Baker, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Nahum/Habakkuk/Zephaniah (TOTC), IVP.

Intermediate: W. Bailey, New American Commentary, Micah/Nahum/Habakkuk/Zephaniah (NAC), Broadman. Or get J. Bruckner, NIV Application Commentary, Jonah/Nahum/Habakkuk/Zephaniah (NIVAC), Zondervan.

Technical: O.P. Robertson, New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Nahum/Habakkuk/Zephaniah (NICOT), Eerdmans.

Haggai

Introductory: R. Fyall, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP. Or get A. Hill, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Haggai/Zechariah/Malachi (TOTC), IVP.

Intermediate: R. Taylor, New American Commentary, Haggai/Malachi (NAC), Broadman.

Technical: P. Verhoef, New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Haggai/Malachi (NICOT), Eerdmans.

Zechariah

Introductory: B. Webb, Bible Speaks Today (BST), IVP. Or get J. Baldwin, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Haggai/Zechariah/Malachi (TOTC), IVP.

Intermediate: Anthony Petterson, Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Haggai/Zechariah/Malachi (IVP). Or get M. Boda, NIV Application Commentary, Haggai/Zechariah (NIVAC), Zondervan.

Technical: M. Boda, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans.

Malachi

Introductory: P. Adam, Bible Speaks Today (IVP, 2013). Or get A. Hill, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Haggai/Zechariah/Malachi (TOTC), IVP.

Intermediate: E.R. Clendenen, New American Commentary, Haggai/Malachi (NAC), Broadman. Or get A. Petterson, Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Haggai/Zechariah/Malachi (IVP). Or get D.W. Baker, NIV Application Commentary, Joel/Obadiah/Malachi (NIVAC), Zondervan.

Technical: P. Verhoef, New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Haggai/Malachi (NICOT), Eerdmans. Or get D. Stuart, The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary (ed. T. McComiskey. Baker, 1992).

 

Lots of options to consider, and these are only a handful of the many valuable commentaries on the Old Testament. May the Lord lead you to resources that will help you grow in wisdom and faithfulness.

 

Next: books to round out your biblical library

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