Commentaries: conservative and Liberal

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Posts 11
Old School Saint | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Feb 17 2014 2:44 AM

Greetings!

I am new to the world of commentaries.

I want to buy the best liberal and the best conservative commentary for each book of the bible. Not looking for the best series or best one volume commentary.

Is there general agreement on the best conservative and best liberal commentaries for each individual book of the bible?

Is there a web site where I can find out what are the best liberal and conservative commentaries for each book of the bible?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

Posts 5340
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 2:50 AM

Paul Terry:
Is there a web site where I can find out what are the best liberal and conservative commentaries for each book of the bible?

Paul,   What is the best of each type of commentary is a subjective question but  http://www.bestcommentaries.com/  is a good starting point in your search.

Posts 13399
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 4:37 AM

Paul Terry:
Is there general agreement on the best conservative and best liberal commentaries for each individual book of the bible?

None at all!

Paul Terry:
Is there a web site where I can find out what are the best liberal and conservative commentaries for each book of the bible?

In addition to the website mentioned above, there are two books in Logos that might help.

Both authors are relatively conservative, but include the full range of commentaries in their scope, and their comments should give you a rough idea where a commentary falls on the conservative/liberal spectrum.

Posts 2964
tom | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 5:10 AM

Mark Barnes:

Paul Terry:
Is there general agreement on the best conservative and best liberal commentaries for each individual book of the bible?

None at all!

Yes  There isn't even an understanding of what is considered to be conservative and what is considered to be liberal.

Commentaries are written with a particulate audience in-mind. For an example, I love the Hermeneia series.  While It is one of the best series when it comes to understanding the biblical languages, I would not recommend this series to people who do not know biblical Greek and/or Hebrew.  

Logos did have a product guide when it comes to commentaries.  While I have not been able to find the page after Logos updated their website, it is on archive.org: http://web.archive.org/web/20080302022854/http://www.logos.com/commentaries/multivolume.  Because this page is from 2008, it does not list any commentaries that Logos has added in the last six years.

Posts 1685
Ken McGuire | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 5:27 AM

tom:
There isn't even an understanding of what is considered to be conservative and what is considered to be liberal.

YesYes I had been wanting to say that...   It has gotten so that I refuse to use the terms because they seem to have no meaning.

The Gospel is not ... a "new law," on the contrary, ... a "new life." - William Julius Mann

L8 Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox Silver, Reformed Basic, Academic Essentials

L7 Lutheran Gold, Anglican Bronze

Posts 11173
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 5:36 AM

I always joke that you can assign the labels in reverse order in the 1st century ... liberals 'love!' .... conservatives 'heretics!'.

I also notice some religious traditions seem to stress a strong discipline in the logic, while others demand consistency with the tradition. That's one big reason I rarely have any problem with Catholic authors (even though I'm 'fundementalist').

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

Posts 117
Paul C | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 5:56 AM

Kumbaya ! Smile

Posts 2588
Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 6:59 AM

tom:

Commentaries are written with a particulate audience in-mind.

They were written for me, a mote of dust! Big Smile

Posts 5301
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 9:51 AM

Mark Barnes:

Probably your best move because one might say this series is liberal or that series is conservative and find out Volume B of a conservative series is rather liberal, and Volume A of this fairly liberal series is rather conservative. I personally do not care for the labels much. New Interpreter's Bible (12 vols.) is in many ways and books fairly conservative and in other ways fairly liberal, depending on the author of book and their approach to a topic. 

-Dan

Posts 302
JPH | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 10:43 AM

Dan Francis:
and find out Volume B of a conservative series is rather liberal, and Volume A of this fairly liberal series is rather conservative

or you have an entire series that is generally labeled conservative, e.g. wbc, but then you spend a some years in and out of it and find that it's just not.

Posts 897
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 11:48 AM

Denise:

... (even though I'm 'fundementalist').

We fundamentalists have dissenting opinions about what exactly is fundamental to the faith.  We do, however, universally agree on.... wait.... false alarm... we don't agree on much of anything.  Indifferent

"I read dead people..."

Posts 10743
Forum MVP
Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 1:16 PM

Brother Mark:
We do, however, universally agree on.... wait.... false alarm... we don't agree on much of anything.  Indifferent

Big Smile Love it! Big Smile

Posts 5301
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 2:09 PM

JPH:
wbc, but then you spend a some years in and out of it and find that it's just not.

Word Biblical Commentary (WBC) (59 vols.) is one of my favourite series.

Big Smile

Posts 1072
William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 4:16 PM

tom:

There isn't even an understanding of what is considered to be conservative and what is considered to be liberal.

Easy, anyone who believes in fewer points of doctrine than me is a flaming liberal and might as well deny the faith. Anyone who believes more points of doctrine than me is a fundamentalist whack-job, and I would never want to associate with them.

[said w/ tongue-in-cheek good faith humor, in case anyone--conservative or liberal--misses it Wink]

Posts 11173
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 4:24 PM

William, that's a real keeper!  Kudos.

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

Posts 1012
Mike Pettit | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 4:30 PM

I am not so sure that mixing Liberal and Conservative (whatever they mean) is necessarily a good idea as the difference lays not so much in how the text is viewed but the suppositions that underpin the text and as such you really cannot draw wisdom equally from both as they do not logically mix.

It makes much more sense to combine commentaries that differ widely but not on the liberal/Conservative axis (i.e. Roman and Reformed is a useful mix as I suppose would be emerging and Liberal if that rocks your boat)

Of course always challenge how you view the texts, but differences aid synthethis of knowledge, jumping between contradictions on a whim does not.   

Posts 117
Paul C | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 5:07 PM

Denise:
That's one big reason I rarely have any problem with Catholic authors (even though I'm 'fundementalist').
Fundamentalist? Like Pastor Coots?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10643820/Snake-handling-pastor-dies-after-rattlesnake-bite.html 

Posts 10743
Forum MVP
Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 6:28 PM

Paul C:
Denise:
That's one big reason I rarely have any problem with Catholic authors (even though I'm 'fundementalist').
Fundamentalist? Like Pastor Coots?

Coots was not a Fundamentalist in the historic sense of the term. He probably never read The Fundamentals, and likely would not have understood them if he had read them. The modern liberal press has perverted the term to become an insult to anyone with whom they disagree. By labeling the lunatic fringe of movements as fundamentalist, they seek to demean true fundamentalists.

Posts 2843
Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 8:01 PM

Great thread. 

I am generally regarded as the most conservative voice theologically in our United Methodist Conference.  (I think that is an honest statement.). When my son married a precious young woman whose parents belonged to an independent church, the father was very concerned about her marrying the son of one of those liberal United Methodist pastors.  All that I could do was laugh and say was, "'Tis a charge that has seldom been made!". We so often judge each other prematurely.

Concerning commentaries these are my thoughts.

1.  One should not get one's understanding of a passage of Scripture from any commentary, but from inductive study.  Commentaries should come last in the study process for comparison purposes, and to check our results.  If our understanding of a passage is too far from all solid commentaries, we might want to reconsider.

2.  The most important thing is not whether the author is liberal or conservative, but the author's scholarship.  Does the author's theological bias and presuppositions control his understanding of the passage? Does the author of the commentary have an agenda?  Does the author have solid exegetical skills?

3.  The most helpful commentaries are not those that parrot my own views.  I already know what I think.  The best commentaries are ones that make me think, and help me understand why I believe what I believe.  Understanding the other side of an argument is crucial to understanding your own views.

4. A variety of types of commentaries are helpful - after I have thoroughly studied a passage inductively.  A mixture of scholarly, exegetical, and expository commentaries is a good approach. 

5.  When it comes to theology, remember John Wesley's wise words: "He may be almost as orthodox—as the devil, (though, indeed, not altogether; for every man errs in something; whereas we can’t well conceive him to hold any erroneous opinion,) and may, all the while be as great a stranger as he to the religion of the heart."

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 5301
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 17 2014 8:14 PM

Michael Childs:
Great thread. 

Great thoughts... thank you for sharing.

-Dan

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