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2010 Survey of Bibles and Bible References for Preaching

By Ray Van Neste | Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

Peter S. Williamson has produced an engaging, conservative Catholic treatment of Ephesians for the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series (Baker). While I was pleased with a number of things in the commentary, the theological depth of Ephesians means of necessity that the differences between Catholic and Protestant understanding come out significantly (i.e., justification, Mary, etc.). Hendrickson has reprinted William Gurnall's justly famous The Christian in Complete Armour, which won high praise from Spurgeon and John Newton as especially helpful for preaching.

Three new commentaries on Philippians have appeared. Charles Cousar's volume in the New Testament Library (WJK) is quite brief and includes Philemon. Dean Flemming's volume is in the New Beacon Bible Commentary series (Beacon Hill), a series expressly within the Wesleyan tradition. This is the first volume I have seen from this series, and it is well-done. Fleming covers the issues without getting bogged down, taking the text seriously as Scripture. He deals with background and exegetical issues, as well as moving to theology and application. Walter Hansen's volume in the Pillar series (Eerdmans) is the longest and fullest treatment of the three. Hansen provides more interaction with scholarly debates than Fleming, though often coming to the same conclusions. Hansen and Fleming will be useful to pastors to use alongside the commentaries by Fee and O'Brien.

B&H has reprinted Murray Harris' Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Colossians and Philemon with plans to continue the series. Harris' treatment focuses on the syntax of the Greek text more so than any other commentary. For those working with Greek, this will be useful.

Robert J. Cara's 1&2 Thessalonians (Evangelical Press) is a solid exposition with regular, faithful application. Cara provides his literal translation and pays particular attention to the flow of argument in the text. All of this makes it a valuable mid-level commentary.

John Cook's Let's Study 1 Timothy (Banner of Truth) is a good, brief exposition from a conservative, Presbyterian perspective. The preacher will need more, but this will be very useful for Bible studies. Donna Brayerton's Lectio Divina, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus (Beacon Hill Press) is much briefer than Cook with less content. This is more of a devotional guide without much exposition. It also does not cover all the text (e.g., 1 Timothy 2 is skipped).

Peter O'Brien is one of my favorite commentators, so I was excited about the release of his The Letter to the Hebrews (Pillar, Eerdmans). It does not disappoint, and now ranks as one of the best commentaries for preaching Hebrews. O'Brien knows the material and surveys it well without getting bogged down or tedious. He comments with an eye to meaning and theology. David Allen has written a new commentary (Hebrew, B&H) and monograph (Lukan Authorship of Hebrews, B&H) on Hebrews arguing that Luke wrote this letter. Both are books with detailed treatments, though O'Brien's volume is the stronger choice.

Dan McCartney's James (BECNT, Baker) is a significant work. He deals carefully with the Greek text without being overly technical and moves to the theology of the text. He also treats more fully theological and ethical issues in the letter.

Douglas Harink's 1 & 2 Peter (BTCB, Baker) is a good theological exposition, often bringing in the thoughts of systematicians and ethicists in a helpful way, as well as making pointed application. Ian Hamilton's Let's Study the Letters of John (Banner of Truth) is a nice brief treatment, making a good supplement to full length commentaries.

The best new commentary on Revelation is Brian Blount's Revelation: A Commentary (WJK). Blount focuses on the apocalyptic nature of the book and rightly notes how the book would have been understood by its original hearers rather than its connection to current newspapers. I think he misses the discussion of hell in chapter 20, but this will be a very helpful tool in preaching a very complex book. Joseph Mangina's Revelation (BTCB, Baker) is a good supplemental text. In keeping with its series, this commentary focuses on theological exposition with an eye for how the church has understood this book through the ages. For Revelation this historical awareness is especially helpful. For example, on Revelation 20, Mangina surveys how Irenaeus, Origen, Augustine and Edwards handled the millennial issue.

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