Writing of the Bible many years ago, Bishop Temple observed, “I know that whatever else shall go, this will stand. This is, indeed, the message of God Almighty to man; and as long as man remains here on earth, still shall he find, in ever-increasing measure, the power which the Book has to uplift his soul.”
The Bible is the book on which the church has stood for two millennia. And as we stand near the edge of a third millennium, the Bible has lost none of its power to convict and to save — at least not where the God’s messengers are faithful in preaching and teaching the Word. As preachers, we are called, above all else, to preach the Word.
Little wonder that, year after year, the printing presses stay busy printing Bibles as well as new works to aid in our study and understanding of the scriptures. Those of us who preach want to stay abreast of the latest, most helpful resources that will aid in our study. That’s why for many years Preaching has provided an annual survey of new releases in the field of Bibles and Bible reference material — commentaries, indexes, and the like. Though not an intensive review, the purpose of this survey is to point to what has recently become available.
Last year’s survey pointed hopefully to the release of the MacArthur Study Bible, which had not yet been released at time of publication. This Word publication did appear shortly thereafter, and has been widely and well received. Produced by pastor John MacArthur (see an interview with him in this issue), this fine study Bible also draws on extensive research and insights from faculty of The Master’s Seminary, where MacArthur serves as president.
Based on the New King James Version (NKJV), the volume features more than 20,000 study notes, along with an extensive series of articles, book introductions and other resources for preaching and teaching. Written from a strongly conservative evangelical perspective, the MacArthur Study Bible will find a welcome place in the studies of many preachers. And thanks are due to Word for producing a Bible of such quality in appearance and design.
While some laypeople must wonder what possible use all those different commentaries serve, preachers know there’s always room for another one — at least a good one! The past year has produced an abundance of good ones that deserve your consideration.
There are several additions to some outstanding commentary series which have been underway for a period of years. One of the best series of recent years is the New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), released by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Two new volumes have recently been released in this series: The Book of Ecclesiastes by Tremper Longman III, and The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 40-66 by John N. Oswalt, completing his two-volume commentary on Isaiah. Evangelicals will find Oswalt’s work of particular interest since he argues for the single authorship of Isaiah, a position not taken by many modern commentators. Oswalt is Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Seminary, while Longman is Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Seminary. Both volumes will be useful to preachers seeking to communicate the message of these Old Testament books better.
Two additional Old Testament volumes have been recently released as part of the New American Commentary Series (NAC), published by Broadman & Holman. Using the New International Version text, the NAC highlights contemporary evangelical scholars, with a particular emphasis on Baptists. The volume on Hosea, Joel is by Duane A. Garrett, Professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul. The volume on Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah is written by Kenneth L. Barker and Waylon Bailey. Barker, a former Old Testament professor, served as general editor of the NIV Study Bible. Bailey is a former professor and now pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington, LA. Both volumes contain useful introductory material and helpful textual analysis for the study of the minor prophets.
Breaking the mold of traditional series is a three-volume set on The Minor Prophets, edited by the late Thomas E. McComiskey and published by Baker Books. The final volume was released this year, including commentaries on Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi — each written by a different evangelical scholar. Both an exegetical and expositional commentary, it will be most helpful to those with some exposure to Hebrew (though that is not required to benefit from the commentary).
Another outstanding commentary series which is designed with a particular focus on preaching and teaching is the Interpretation commentary published by Westminster/John Knox Press. Two recent New Testament releases in this series are First and Second Thessalonians by Beverly Roberts Gaventa, and First Corinthians by Richard Hays. Gaventa is Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Princeton Seminary, while Hays is Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. Among other items of value, I appreciated Gaventa’s discussion of the value of eschatology for the church’s preaching and teaching. Readers of both volumes will appreciate the effort to articulate insights for preaching from these great texts.
Speaking of preaching values, it is hard to find a commentary series more focused on that concern than The NIV Application Commentary from Zondervan Publishing. The intent of this series is to show interpreters “how to bring an ancient message into a modern context.” The latest in this series is James by David Nystrom, Associate Professor of Theology and History at North Park College. The commentary discusses the “Original Meaning” of the text, then addresses the issue of “Bridging Contexts,” and then evaluates the “Contemporary Significance” of the passage, including some quality illustrative material. I suspect preachers will want to acquire each successive release in this useful series. (On a personal note, I look forward to the release later this fall of Hebrews by my Union University colleague George Guthrie. George is a brilliant scholar on the book of Hebrews, and I have every expectation his commentary will be a favorite.)
Yet another series which places an emphasis on preaching insights is the MacArthur New Testament Commentary, written by John MacArthur and published by Moody Press. The interview in this issue tells you more about this outstanding preacher than can be mentioned here; suffice it to say that James, the latest volume in the series, is an excellent treatment of this fascinating book — one which I wish I had when I was preaching through James a few years ago!
The Westminster Bible Companion, produced by Westminster/John Knox Press, is targeted more to lay readers than to preachers, but still offers helpful insights in a more brief format. Two volumes released this year are Acts by Paul W. Walaskay, Professor of Biblical Studies at Union Seminary (VA), and Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther by Johanna W.H. Van Wijk-Bos, Professor of Old Testament at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. They offer biblical insights written from a mainline Protestant perspective.
Another primarily mainline series — and a significant project — is the New Interpreter’s Bible, which projects 12 massive volumes. For example, Volume IV (covering 1 & 2 Maccabees, an Introduction to Hebrew Poetry, Job and Psalms) is nearly 1300 pages in an oversized format. These volumes will either be favorite study resources or perfect door stops! Of particular interest to many will be the “Reflections” material provided on various passages.
A series that was new to me was Black’s New Testament Commentary, edited by Henry Chadwick and produced by Hendrickson Publishers. If The Epistle to the Philippians by Markus Bockmuehl is any indicator, this is a series that deserves to be on the shelf of every preacher. Designed to provide “a reliable and enlightening exposition” of the text, Bockmuehl’s volume will be a helpful resource for any pastor who plans to preach from Paul’s Philippian epistle. One interesting sidebar: this commentary was the first I’ve seen to include a special section pointing the reader to additional resources available on the Internet.
Another new series, produced by InterVarsity Press, is the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, for which Thomas Oden serves as general editor. This unique project seeks to supplement more contemporary commentaries by collecting textual commentary from the early church fathers. By using modern computer technology, it has been possible to analyze and select from the vast library of ancient texts and place them in a systematic and useful format. The recently released Volume II is on the gospel of Mark, and it contains a fascinating assortment of insights from the church fathers on successive passages in the gospel. This is a rich volume, and I look forward to future releases.
The Crossway Classic Commentaries is not a new series but a collection of great commentaries from the historic literature of the church. New volumes released this year by Crossway Press are Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians, and 1, 2 & 3 John by John Calvin and Matthew Henry. As J.I. Packer points out in the introduction of the latter volume, Calvin never wrote on 2 & 3 John, so his work on 1 John is supplemented by Henry’s comments. Packer calls Luther’s volume “the finest and most powerful paean on justification that any Reformer ever uttered.” Interestingly enough, another volume of Luther’s Galatians commentary was released this year by Fleming H. Revell Publishers, including an introduction by Stuart Briscoe.
One of the church’s premier biblical expositors today is James Montgomery Boice, pastor of Philadelphia’s historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. Boice has written many expositional commentaries, and this year saw the release of his three-volume commentary on Genesis, published by Baker Books. The commentary is built on messages Boice preached in a major series on Genesis, and will be of great value to any preacher who plans to preach from the first book of the Bible.
Those preparing to preach on the gospel of John will find helpful the insights of Claus Westermann in the brief volume, The Gospel of John: in the Light of the Old Testament, published by Henrickson. Westermann, emeritus professor at the University of Heidelberg, analyzes the gospel narratives and helps us better understand the influence of the Old Testament texts upon the writing of the Fourth Gospel.
Additional Bible Reference Works
A variety of helpful resource material has become available within the past year. Two of the finest additions to the modern biblical library are published by Broadman & Holman. A History of Israel by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., should be close at hand for any preacher or teacher dealing extensively with the Old Testament. Kaiser, who is President of Gordon-Conwell Seminary, is a brilliant Old Testament scholar with a heart for preaching. Another volume is Jesus and the Gospels by Craig L. Blomberg, Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. Although designed primarily as a textbook, it will prove to be a wonderful resource for preachers and teachers.
Another useful reference tool for pastors is the new Holman Concise Bible Commentary, edited by David S. Dockery. A handy one-volume commentary in a convenient size and form, it will be a helpful quick reference tool for students of scripture. Of particular value to pastors will be the excellent series of articles by a host of outstanding scholars, including Walter Kaiser, Bruce Waltke, Walter Elwell and others. Dockery, a widely published New Testament scholar himself, is President of Union University.
Hendrickson Publishers is a continuing source of a remarkable array of quality Biblical reference material. A unique and helpful resource is the Handbook of Biblical Chronology by Jack Finegan, Professor Emeritus of New Testament History and Archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion. A revised edition of a work originally published in 1964, the Handbook helps the reader understand how the ancients understood chronology, and addresses many of the problem chronological areas in the Bible. Another Hendrickson release is the Concise Bible Atlas by J. Carl Laney, Professor of Biblical Literature at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary. This popular historical and geographical survey of the Bible includes fascinating commentary, including a variety of descriptions of biblical sites that shed light on various texts; the book originally appeared a decade ago in a Baker Book House edition.
There is a growing interest in the early church fathers, and Hendrickson has responded to that interest with A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, edited by David W. Bercot, an Anglican priest and attorney. Bercot has drawn from the vast writings of the early church to assemble writings around more than 700 topics, from “Baptism” and “Christ” to “Parousia” and “Worship.” Bercot also provides a brief “who’s who” introduction to the Ante-Nicene Fathers. Another Hendrickson release, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, is a useful one-volume resource, with articles by more than 200 conservative evangelical scholars.
Closing out our survey is a unique work from Broadman & Holman entitled That’s Easy for You to Say: Your Quick Guide to Pronouncing Bible Names, by W. Murray Severance. Not only is there a book, there’s even an interactive CD-ROM. Now there’s no excuse to stumble over those “begats” that have always proven so tough!

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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