Earlier this week, Stephen Shields noted on his blog that Darrell Bock is blogging some recommendations on commentaries for the gospels — at least, that’s as far as he’s gotten to date (follow individual links from the foregoing link or dig from his alternate blog address). He’s got some good recommendations there, but I always tend to put too much stock in what commentaries are recommended on John’s gospel. At least he included mentions of some of my favorites “for those who wish to interact with non-conservative commentaries”. Hmmm.
This got me thinking about other such lists. I used to keep a list in my wallet of commentaries I wanted to purchase so that if I ever found myself in a bookstore (you know, suddenly and unexpectedly) I would have a list of titles to dig up rather than relying on memory. My list became outdated, as has my summary of what the newest or best volume for each book of the Bible was.
John Piper provides quite a good list of recommended commentaries, though it leans too much on TOTC volumes in the OT a bit much for my taste. Piper also mentions the companion volumes by Tremper Longman and D.A. Carson on the OT and NT Commentary Surveys (respectively), and links two good lists from Denver Seminary, Exegesis Bibliography by Drs. C. L. Blomberg, and William W. Klein (New Testament) and Annotated Old Testament Bibliography by M. Daniel Carroll R. and Richard S. Hess.
I have to say the best such listing that I’ve ever found is one by John Glynn. I ordered a hard staple-bound copy of his survey more than ten years ago (iirc) from the Dallas Seminary Bookstore for about $3. It was later available for free at Bible.org, but was removed when it began to be published as the straightforwardly-titled Commentary and Reference Survey. I haven’t had an update to the publication in years, but using Amazon’s “Peek Inside” feature allowed me to see that the format appears to be generally the same as the one I knew, and gives a reasonable heads-up of what to expect.
Glynn’s survey is outstanding in that it lists far more than just commentaries, and includes both Old and New Testaments as well as common reference works, websites, and software of interest to the Biblical Studies scholar. Although the work sprouted from the Dallas garden, Glynn is pretty even-handed in highlighting a wide variety of commentaries, noting which ones are liberal, technical, suitable for laypersons, hold divergent theological positions at a specific point or two (“Amillennial” or “Pentecostal” might be sample notations) and which ones are overall outstanding volumes that make up a list of must-have’s. As well as all of these notations, each set of recommendations (by subject or by book of the Bible) are ranked with the most thorough or most-accepted technical commentaries tending to rise to the top. Overall, it was the most comprehensive and best-laid-out survey of its kind that I’ve ever found. And just to bring us full-circle on this post, the foreword was written by none other than Darrell Bock.