Best author for the subject?

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Titus Wesley | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Aug 12 2022 5:47 AM

I tend to gravitate towards the same set of resources when studying. I know, however, that each author or series probably treats one particular subject, or book, or even passage, better than anyone. An author may be average on most material, but outstanding on Jonah, for example. NT Wright has great material all over but if you’re studying the resurrection or Paul he is head and shoulders above the rest; if you overlook him there, you may have overlooked the best writing on the subject. So I know I’m missing the definitive treatment on a passage if I’m just checking my daily go-to resources.

Is there a way to unearth the “best” treatment of whatever subject or passage I’m studying? Perhaps this could be done by sorting by most opened or highlighted resource (among the whole user community) for a given passage or subject?

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Richard Wardman | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 12 2022 6:08 AM

Some of that is probably quite subjective, but I frequently use https://www.bestcommentaries.com/ to look up what appears to be the most widely used resources for any given Bible book or subject area. 

In Logos, Library has a facet called "Community Ratings" although I don't know how reliable or detailed that would be. And it only shows Community Ratings for resources that you HAVEN'T rated. 

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Lew Worthington | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 12 2022 6:56 AM

If you have journals, many of them carry reviews. Because of my background, I tend to rely on these more than I rely on the marketing reviews publishers splash onto dust jackets (or the ebook equivalent). But I do read and am often influenced by those as well.

What Richard points out above about bestcommentaries also applies anywhere, but sometimes the reason for these assessments may have more to do with familiarity or agreement or preferred method than with the actual quality of work. But at least it's a start. I'm sure there's a ton of great stuff out there that just hasn't gotten noticed.

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 12 2022 6:57 AM

I don’t know if I’d rely on popular highlights or even “most sold.”

One means is to keep track of whom cites whom. 

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 12 2022 8:41 AM

I doubt you can do what you're wanting to do.  Judging from your illustrations, you're not going to be happy with BestCommentaries, though maybe a flavoring.

The only way I've ever succeeded, is 'the hard way'.  I use multiviews for commentary groups.  And then check ... takes time.  The popover guides for commentaries don't do much.

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EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 12 2022 9:47 AM

My approach is generally consistent with everything that's been said. I pay very little attention to the promotional/sales material on commentaries, other than to identify the author and to get a sense for the type of commentary something is (e.g., devotional, homiletic, technical) and any specific focus (e.g., socio-rhetorical, feminist, liberation theology, etc.). I do use the Best Commentaries website, and I personally find it useful.  I don't know if there's anything similar available that comes from a different theological perspective.  Journal reviews can be helpful too.

Then, as DMB said, you just have to do some work.  My first shot is usually to start with:

  • A volume from one of my "go to" commentary series
  • The first or second recommended commentary on Best Commentaries
  • A technical commentary such as Hermeneia
  • The UBS Handbook for the book I'm studying

That last isn't really a commentary, but I personally find it helpful to look at a passage from the standpoint of the translation issues that people tend it run into with it.

But that is just a start. I've gotten to where I'm pretty quick to switch to another commentary if I find that one of the ones I started with just isn't adding that much to my understanding of the text. I didn't used to do that as much. 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 12 2022 10:44 AM

Titus Wesley:
Is there a way to unearth the “best” treatment of whatever subject or passage I’m studying?

Probably not because the best source is always dependent upon the questions you are asking. Think of the various types of criticisms as filters that highlight particular aspects of the subject/passage. You use the filter that highlights the answers to your questions. However, there are usually a small number of commentaries that are the best at providing a broad overview of the subject/passage. There, the reviews in journals should lead you to good choices, or the frequency of favorable use in resources you know and trust. Avoid any sources that rate commentaries by the "I agree with them, therefore they are good" scale.

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Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 14 2022 5:27 PM

I maintain a Person Book of Denver Seminary's annotated OT bibliography and NT suggestions here.  I find them very helpful when I start a study.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 14 2022 11:48 PM

MJ. Smith:
Avoid any sources that rate commentaries by the "I agree with them, therefore they are good" scale.

Might be a tad late, given his somewhat effusive assessment of NT Wright...or NT Wrong, as some would call him. Yes, I just coined that...thank you, thank you...I'll be here all week.

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