Scoring Commentary Series: How to decide which to buy

Page 1 of 1 (10 items)
This post has 9 Replies | 1 Follower

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Aug 25 2011 1:26 PM

 

If you are like me, you're probably adding resources to a base package as interest/funds/bargains allow you to.  Its particularly helpful when other forum members share their experience with a resource that I don't own (yet!), but has just gone on sale, or pre-pub, Logos' wonderful Community Pricing, or a 7 day Newswire blowout. But... how do you REALLY know whether it suits your study style, tastes, theology, etc.?

Apart from inheriting a retired or deceased pastor's pulpwood library with the same eclectic tastes as your own, or dropping in on a local seminary library to see for yourself, there are few reliable sources.  There is, however, at least one website that ranks commentaries, and that I found here by accident while reading one of the forums (I don't recall who posted it or I'd give credit): http://bestcommentaries.com ... surf over then click on the "Best" in the ribbon at the top, and select "Top Commentaries by series".  Very interesting data set here, however it will take about 5 minutes for the database to populate the webpage... hold on, your patience will be rewarded!

Nice, at first glance, eh?  For me, doing an apples to apples comparison of the series as a whole became a tad confusing.  So!  I plugged all the number into excel and made my own scoring system.  Here's how I scored them (yes, yes, YOU'd have scored it differently, but this may be helpful to someone):

 

  • I added all the numbers together for how they were ranked in the OT section and again for NT.  This became the base score, and the higher the number the lower its score. Get it?  If a commentary scored 20th place for Genesis, its score is worse than one that scored a 1st place (1 being best, and 20 being worst, for example).
  • Next, if a book had no score or wasn't reviewed, I added 5 to its score (thus making it worse overall as a series).
  • I weighted scores (thereby improving it's standing) by subtracting 5 if a book was scored as a Top commentary (first or second place), 3 if it was scored second - fifth place, and 1 if it was scored sixth place or lower.

 

The final number gave me an overall ranking for the series, and here's what I came up with in descending order for the NEW TESTAMENT:

 

  1. NICNT (8)  <--I'll put the score in parentheses after the commentary series name
  2. WBC (31)
  3. PNTC and BECNT tied (74)
  4. NIVAC (83)
  5. TNTC (87)
  6. ICC (110)
  7. NAC (112)
  8. ANTC (115)
  9. NCB (129)
  10. EBC (166)
  11. NTL (168)
  12. HERM (172)
  13. NIBCNT (179)
  14. AB (192)

 

OLD TESTAMENT:

 

  1. NAC (29)
  2. NICOT (76)
  3. TOTC (77)
  4. WBC (80)
  5. NIVAC (129)
  6. BECOT (161)
  7. HERM (183)
  8. AB (194)
  9. ICC (216)
  10. AOTC and EBC tied at (237)
  11. NCB (241)
  12. NIBCOT (262)
  13. OTL (305)

 

There are lots of other ways to slice and dice the data (combined scores for OT and NT, completeness of the set, conservative vs. liberal, etc, etc,), and I'd take the top 5 or 10 and do a lot more investigation before I plunked my money down... nevertheless, I found it to be an interesting exercise and thought some of you might also.

 

 

"I read dead people..."

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 25 2011 2:59 PM

And combined scores along with current Logos pricing (if available)

 

"I read dead people..."

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 25 2011 3:02 PM

And finally, here's the spreadsheet with all the data elements, scores, weights, and conclusions:

 

3005.commentary comparison.xlsx

"I read dead people..."

Posts 1674
Paul N | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 25 2011 3:04 PM

Brother Mark, we must be related!  I did the same thing using the same website off the criteria of each commentary series' first and second place finishes.  Then I compared this with the cost in Logos to come up with a prioritized list of what to buy first.  This was also helpful in realizing some series' were best to buy either NT or OT but not pursue the entire series.

I also find it cool that the results have shifted over the year since I crunched my numbers and some commentaries have risen in popularity while some have slipped slightly.

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 25 2011 4:20 PM

Paul Newsome:

Brother Mark, we must be related!  I did the same thing using the same website off the criteria of each commentary series' first and second place finishes.  Then I compared this with the cost in Logos to come up with a prioritized list of what to buy first.  This was also helpful in realizing some series' were best to buy either NT or OT but not pursue the entire series.

I also find it cool that the results have shifted over the year since I crunched my numbers and some commentaries have risen in popularity while some have slipped slightly.

Paul, its comforting in a way to know that someone else thinks about the things the same way that I do.... and fascinating that the rankings have changed noticeably in a year.  As a result of my analysis, I'm sleeping on the WBC deal thats on now.... $599 for WBC and a raft of other commentaries, et al.  Looks like the deal expires tomorrow.

 

"I read dead people..."

Posts 1633
Allen Browne | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 25 2011 5:55 PM

Thanks for posting your research, Mark. If I read your results correctly, lower score = higher ranking.

The result that surprises me most is NAC on top of the OT list, and by a big margin. As you say, there are so many other factors at work here. BestCommentaries has a bias towards Evangelical/Calvinistic semi-scholastic commentaries, which will suit some Logos users and not others.

It will be interesting to see how you use your commentaries. I'm finding that I often don't have time to look at more than 2 or 3 commentaries when studying a passage, so there may not be much point in buying more for Bible books where I have several (unless the commentary is exceptional or takes a very different approach.)

Posts 1674
Paul N | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 25 2011 6:22 PM

only to add to the research already done, I used 1st & 2nd place finishes of each commentary by book of the Bible to find the series' with the most popularity in the OT & NT

Updated 6/16/11

Old Testament (1st place + 2nd place = Highest Score)

  1. NICOT: 16 + 4 = 20
  2. WBC:      9 + 6 = 15
  3. NAC:       4 + 7 = 11
  4. TOTC:     4 + 4 = 8
  5. AB:          1 + 4 = 5
  6. NIVAC:   1 + 3 = 4
  7. NIBCOT: 0 + 2 = 2
  8. 5 way tie with 1 2nd place vote

New Testament (1st place + 2nd place = Highest Score)

  1. NIGTC:  3 + 5 = 8
  2. NICNT:  4 + 3 = 7
  3. WBC:     6 + 0 = 6
  4. PNTC:   4 + 1 = 5
  5. BECNT: 2 + 3 = 5
  6. NAC:      1 + 2 = 3
  7. TNTC:    0 + 3 = 3
  8. EBC:      1 + 0 = 1
  9. 4 way tie with 1 2nd place vote

 

Notes:
- The difference between 1st and 2nd place is not too important
- The older commentary series' seem to lag behind the newer, fresher series' 

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 25 2011 6:34 PM

Allen Browne:

Thanks for posting your research, Mark. If I read your results correctly, lower score = higher ranking.

Correct sir: Lower scores indicate the best (most popular) commentaries.  Higher scores are the less popular ones.

Allen Browne:

The result that surprises me most is NAC on top of the OT list, and by a big margin. As you say, there are so many other factors at work here. 

Several of the results surprised me as well.  This type of raw weighting really only gives us an indicator rather than a definitive guideline... and then, as you say, only for a particular segment's opinion.  Still, its been helpful for confirming one decision for me (the current WBC bundle on sale), and causing me to reevaluate others.

Allen Browne:

It will be interesting to see how you use your commentaries. I'm finding that I often don't have time to look at more than 2 or 3 commentaries when studying a passage, so there may not be much point in buying more for Bible books where I have several (unless the commentary is exceptional or takes a very different approach.)

I'm blessed in that I'm medically retired and have several hours every day to study.  It helps me to confirm my own theological bent when I read contrasting opinions on a given topic or passage... so the more commentaries, the more perspectives, the better :)

 

"I read dead people..."

Posts 885
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 25 2011 6:36 PM

Paul, I note that your scores are opposite of mine (higher is better).  Hope we don't confuse anyone!

 

"I read dead people..."

Posts 1228
Ron | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 26 2011 7:00 AM

Paul Newsome:
I also find it cool that the results have shifted over the year since I crunched my numbers and some commentaries have risen in popularity while some have slipped slightly.

This could partly be due to the reworking of BestCommentaries scoring system recently.

Page 1 of 1 (10 items) | RSS