Commentary Recommendations: Your advice is sought...

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Mark Stevens | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Dec 18 2011 3:04 AM

I have a book budget to spend before the end of 2011 and I am trying to maximise my bang for buck with Logos Credit. I have the major commentary sets including Hermeneia, WBC and NICOT/NICNT, Pillar and Tyndale and I am planning to upgrade from Scholars to Gold or maybe Platinum (most likely Gold) giving me the New American and Greek NT Commentary and the Pulpit.

With the money I save from choosing Gold over Platinum I can purchase one or two other sets and then perhaps a third with my Logos credit. Therefore, I was wondering what people would recommend. These are my options for add-on and I was wondering what people used the most (especially preachers/teachers). I am what I would call a pastoral expositor of scripture meaning I don't preach topically. 

Baker Exegetical Commentary

Baker OT Psalms and Wisdom

The IVP New Testament Commentary

NIV Application Commentary NT

NIV Application Commentary OT Prophets

Zondervan Illustrated Commentary NT

Zondervan Illustrated Commentary OT

 

Thanks in advance folks! Geeked

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Josh | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 3:51 AM

Baker Exegetical for sure!

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Mark Stevens | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 3:53 AM

Joshua Garcia:

Baker Exegetical for sure!

I am fairly confident that it is top of the list. Why do you recommend it?

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Paul N | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 4:00 AM

Joshua Garcia:

Baker Exegetical for sure!

As for a mere practical reason, BEC has a huge update ready to come out of pre-pub which lets me know Baker is still behind the series in Logos.  Its been on Pre-pub for around 6 months however (since 6/28/11).

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Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 4:13 AM

Baker Exegetical for the overall quality of the series. If the NIV Application commentary were available in the OT (other than the prophets) I'd try to pick that up.

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 6:03 AM

I have all those commentaries (apart from Baker OT which is still on prepub). Given what you already have, I'd rank them in this order:

  1. Zondervan Illustrated Background Commentary
  2. NIV Application Commentary
  3. Baker Exegetical
  4. IVP NTC

My logic here is to rank higher sets that give you something you don't already have. If I was ranking purely by value, Baker would be top and ZIBC would be second. However, Baker is pretty similar to Pillar both in scope, theological perspective and quality. Although it's useful having both, I think there would be more value in having something different. I love the ZIBC, despite the price. I'm also a big fan of NIVAC for preaching. I tend to use it near the end of sermon prep, after I've done the heavy lifting. It often sparks ideas for application. Although you get a bit of that in NAC and Tyndale, you're currently weighted more heavily towards pure exegesis, and that might rebalance things a bit for you. I put IVP NTC last because it's similar to Tyndale in scope, and theological perspective, though not quite the quality (in my view).

For sheer value for money, I'd be very tempted to add the Bible Speaks Today set in, and certainly choose it over IVPNTC. Some volumes in that set are exceptional (e.g. Stott on 1 John).

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Praiser | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 6:14 AM

Mark Barnes:

I have all those commentaries (apart from Baker OT which is still on prepub). Given what you already have, I'd rank them in this order:

  1. Zondervan Illustrated Background Commentary
  2. NIV Application Commentary
  3. Baker Exegetical
  4. IVP NTC

My logic here is to rank higher sets that give you something you don't already have. If I was ranking purely by value, Baker would be top and ZIBC would be second. However, Baker is pretty similar to Pillar both in scope, theological perspective and quality. Although it's useful having both, I think there would be more value in having something different. I love the ZIBC, despite the price. I'm also a big fan of NIVAC for preaching. I tend to use it near the end of sermon prep, after I've done the heavy lifting. It often sparks ideas for application. Although you get a bit of that in NAC and Tyndale, you're currently weighted more heavily towards pure exegesis, and that might rebalance things a bit for you. I put IVP NTC last because it's similar to Tyndale in scope, and theological perspective, though not quite the quality (in my view).

For sheer value for money, I'd be very tempted to add the Bible Speaks Today set in, and certainly choose it over IVPNTC. Some volumes in that set are exceptional (e.g. Stott on 1 John).

 

I would agree with Mark here.

Another point to consider is that Zondervan resources can't be discounted further at this time. So you get Logos Cash to use next year and possibly a better sale price on the others you might be interested in. Yes Making your dollars go even further.

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 7:35 AM

You already have a nice set of tools for your preaching style. I am not presently a preacher but I think Mark Barnes' recommendations are best in your situation.

Mark Barnes:

I have all those commentaries (apart from Baker OT which is still on prepub). Given what you already have, I'd rank them in this order:

  1. Zondervan Illustrated Background Commentary
  2. NIV Application Commentary
  3. Baker Exegetical
  4. IVP NTC

My logic here is to rank higher sets that give you something you don't already have. If I was ranking purely by value, Baker would be top and ZIBC would be second. However, Baker is pretty similar to Pillar both in scope, theological perspective and quality. Although it's useful having both, I think there would be more value in having something different. I love the ZIBC,

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Donovan R. Palmer | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 9:12 AM

I do really like the Zondervans Illustrated books as they fill a niche that none of the others do.

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Friedrich | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 9:38 AM

Donovan R. Palmer:

I do really like the Zondervans Illustrated books as they fill a niche that none of the others do.

 

Hi.  Allow me to be a bit of a contrarian, here, regarding the ZIBBCNT.  Outside of Hebrews, penned by George Guthrie (who also did the NIVAC and the Hebrews section in Commentary of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament), I have not found the ZIBBCNT that helpful, save for some decent pictures here and there (again, especially Hebrews).  Not saying they are bad, nor have I plumbed all the depths of them, but so far I go to them, and come away thinking "ah, not much help again."  Keener's work is sufficient, even if a bit older.  But, if you have it to burn, ZIBBC is okay.  :)

One commentary you didn't mention (maybe you have), that I would recommend as "something different/additional" that might prove very useful is the already mentioned: Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by Carson and Beale.  Simply outstanding.  Helps give breadth to, especially, New Testament exegesis and exposition.

Baker is a very nice set.

I also recommend someone else's suggestion about BST.  Perhaps dated, but still feels fresh, and is relatively cheap.  If you don't have Tyndale, they are very strong in the OT, and cheap.

 

Btw, you have works I do not have . . . and want!  (Hermeneia, for one)

Peace.  Smile

Like others, I really like NIVAC series, especially for thinking through "bridging contexts" and thinking about contemporary applications.  consistently happy with engagement in them, even if I don't always agree.

I like Apples.  Especially Honeycrisp.

Posts 439
Mark Stevens | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 3:16 PM

Wow, you guys have been great. I especially appreciate your thoughts Mark and then your reflections as well Dan. Now I have a lot to consider.

 

I am wondering if Baker is really that good in light of what I have. Is the NIVAC good or just okay?

 

Decisions, decisions! Geeked

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Edwin Bowden | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 8:33 PM

Dan DeVilder:

One commentary you didn't mention (maybe you have), that I would recommend as "something different/additional" that might prove very useful is the already mentioned: Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by Carson and Beale.  Simply outstanding.  Helps give breadth to, especially, New Testament exegesis and exposition.

YesI Picked this up on a Logos sale a year or so ago and have been very pleased with it. It fills a unique spot.

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Edwin Bowden | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2011 8:36 PM

Mark Stevens:
Is the NIVAC good or just okay?

I have used several volumes in print and added both OT/NT when they became available in Logos.

It seems uneven to me. Guthrie's introduction on Hebrews is worth the price of the volume by itself. Excellent work.

Some of the others seem to struggle with the format that the NIVAC follows.

Posts 190
EmileB | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 2:27 AM

Hi Mark! In keeping with some of what has been implied in this thread, so much depends on your preaching/teaching style and the method you use to prepare. I highly value Baker Exegetical and the Zondervan Illustrated Backgrounds series... but I really don't care for the NIV Application series. I was familiar with it (non-Logos) and every time I have read a portion, I have not enjoyed it. Whenever it comes on sale (I could have gotten it very cheaply when Zondervan was moving over to Logos as a former Pradis user), I have tried to reevaluate it... but I always come to the same place. Its just not for me. I feel that it (by its nature) tends to pull me towards a particular applicational interpretation... and generally I find that that application ISN'T helpful to my context or at all where the Lord was wanting to lead me. So I find that I am either continually struggling against it, putting that application out of my mind, or that it dampens my ability to hear the Spirit speaking to me when I come to that stage of preparation. And beyond that applicational perspective, it really doesn't offer anything to me that other commentaries don't offer far better. (I often have the same issue with the Life Application series). SO I prefer not having it in my library. But again, the caveat is that it depends on your method of sermon/lesson preparation.  I much rather gain the deepest possible understanding of the text, and then to spend the time in prayer to allow the Lord to express how He is calling me to apply it to my life and to the context of my audience.

I wish I could recall, but there is a good website that reviews commentaries and lists those that are considered the best for each biblical book. I've found it helpful, but as I now have the commentaries I want and need, I haven't consulted it for a while and don't recall the address. I'm sure there are some folks here who know it readily and can advise.

Best wishes on your decision!!

 

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NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 2:32 AM

maybe you meant http://www.bestcommentaries.com/  ?

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 2:33 AM

Mark Stevens:
Is the NIVAC good or just okay?

It is uneven, like all sets. Karen Jobes on Esther (sadly not in Logos yet) is incredibly good, but most I would rate a 3-4 out of 5. Bock on Luke, Blomberg on 1 Corinthians, Hafemann on 2 Corinthians, Thielmann on Philippians, Garland on Colossians, Guthrie on Hebrews, are all pretty good. But again, what I appreciate most about NIVAC is that it gives me something I don't really get elsewhere, that is the combination of informed exegesis and practical application. Usually it's just one or the other, and I appreciate that NIVAC gives me both.

If you're read Carson's commentary survey you'll see that he doesn't really like NIVAC:

The NIV Application Commentary series (/Zondervan) provides fairly lightweight commentaries, easily accessible, that are then filled out by application of various kinds. At one level this aim is commendable: it works against the view that biblical interpretation has the right to remain a cool and distanced discipline with the interpreter standing over the text. Yet there are converse dangers. Shallow handling of the Word coupled with immediate application may unwittingly foster the view that Scripture has primarily utilitarian value. The applications themselves may be driven by many different agendas, so that false connections are constructed between text and application. Lazy preachers may so rely on the applications provided by this series that they fail to devote themselves to the hard work of cultural reflection and appropriate application—just as lazy preachers may so rely on the immediate conclusions of commentaries in general that they never really learn how to do exegesis. Once its limitations and dangers are acknowledged, however, this series can be a useful pump-primer in the move from text to application.

But you'll see that he criticises it on principle, rather an on quality. If you're not a lazy preacher, and will turn to NIVAC late in your sermon prep, after you've done the hard work already, I agree that it is a useful pump-primer. What's doubly interesting is that when you read his recommendations for individual books of the Bible, you get comments like these:

  • Luke:  Darrell L. Bock’s entry to the NIVAC series is one of the stronger volumes
  • 1 Corinthians: Craig Blomberg in the NIVAC series (1995, £19.99/$24.99) is perhaps the best of [the recent middle-level commentaries]
  • 2 Corinthians: Although I usually do not like the NIVAC contributions very much—too many of their “applications” are slightly forced or trendy—the 2 Corinthians volume by Scott Hafemann is a superior entry
  • Philippians: The NIVAC is by Frank Thielman (1995, £13.99/$22.99); it is not flashy, but it is one of the more substantive entries to this series.
  • Colossians: On the whole, I have been reticent about the NIVAC, but do not avoid the volume on Colossians by David E. Garland
  • Hebrews: The NIVAC contribution by George Guthrie (/1998, £16.99/$27.99) is above average for the series: Guthrie has been working on this epistle for a long time.
  • 1Peter: Unlike some volumes in the NIVAC series, Scot McKnight (1996, £13.99/$22.99) does engage in exegesis before moving on to “bridging” and “contemporary significance.”
  • 2 Peter: Because he begins with exegesis, the NIVAC volume by Douglas J. Moo (1996, £24.99/$22.99) is worth reading.
  • 1-3 John: The NIVAC volume by Gary M. Burge (/1996, $22.99) is sensible, in some ways a breezy American counterpart to John Stott’s TNTC volume

In other words, despite not liking the principle, he actually does like many of the individual volumes.

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EmileB | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 2:41 AM

yep, that's the one

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Friedrich | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 8:13 AM

Emile and Mark have rightly (this may sound like I contradict myself) pointed out that the application part does at times seem driven by agenda.  I don't always use their stories and will also ignore their bridging.  Still, I find it interesting, and in the very least, the format can serve to remind the preacher about moving from text to application.  Many other commentaries don't even address that bridging.  And sometimes, I find I use part of a story/illustration, perhaps in a way different from its use in the commentary, that fits how I see the application (of course, I am always right.  Wink)  Having access to those stories is nice.

As for the evenness--I haven't used all of them, and I am sure some of them I didn't like, I have forgotten.  Besides teh few mentioned by Mark and Emile above, I thought Ephesians was a nice volume.

I like Apples.  Especially Honeycrisp.

Posts 439
Mark Stevens | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 3:25 PM

Thanks guys. You have all been wonderful!

 

I am still unsure of the commentaries I will purchase but I am fairly certain I will upgrade to Gold thus getting the Pulpit Commentary and NIGNTC as well. I am wondering if the Bible Speaks today might be better and the Baker to round off what is a healthy pastoral library. If only people could e impressed when they walk into my study though! ;)

 

Waiting on a call back from my rep now!

 

Did I say thanks? I really appreciate the help!!! Smile

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Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 5:10 PM

Mark Stevens:
I am wondering if the Bible Speaks today might be better

I think Hughes' Preaching the Word series is better than the BST, but it doesn't cover as much ground.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

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