Books are the Best Presents

Every year at the annual meeting for the Society of Biblical Literature I meander through the book stalls, make some purchases, and set myself up for another year of reading and researching. Today I want to make some book suggestions in the general area of commentaries and reference books.

Pastors, preachers, students, professors and those seriously studying the Bible and theology can find something here.

You might want to play a trick I always play: wrap one up, put it under the tree, and write on it “To [your name], from [your name].” Works like a charm.



My pick of the year for a reference book is W.A. Dyrness, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Global Dictionary of Theology
. Almost a thousand pages, this reference book examines theology from a global perspective. All the major topics, evangelical in perspective, but fresh in orientation — I enjoyed reading the essays on justification and kingdom of God.

But I have to also give top billing to Michael Holmes’ new handy Greek-English edition of the apostolic fathers. Simply a must: The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations.

Now some commentaries:

On Judges, in the Old Testament Library from Westminster, Susan Niditch: Judges: A Commentary (Old Testament Library) (Old Testament Library). I learned much from her book on Israelite religion.

On Psalms, John Goldingay has completed volume 3 in his series: Psalms, vol. 3: Psalms 90-150 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms). I go to Goldingay’s commentaries on Psalms first.

In the same series, Tremper Longman has completed his commentary on Proverbs: Proverbs (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms). I often find myself wandering into Proverbs and in need of a commentary and Longman’s will become the first one I go to.

Fuller professor Leslie Allen has a new commentary on Jeremiah: Jeremiah: A Commentary (Old Testament Library)
.

Now to the New Testament. An old friend, Robert Stein, has completed his commentary on the Gospel of Mark: Mark (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Stein’s commentary is marked by common sense and, perhaps the greatest sign of common sense, the commentary is the right length. (We don’t need multi-volumed commentaries on the Gospels.)

One of the most erudite, scholarly, critical commentary series is the Hermeneia series; Richard Pervo’s commentary on the Acts of the Apostles is now out: ACTS: A Commentary (Hermeneia: a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible).

There are two more commentaries from the New Testament Library series: Jerry Sumney’s brief, readable piece on Colossian: A Commentary (New Testament Library) and Judith Lieu’s I, II, & III John: A Commentary (New Testament Library).

And the Baker Exegetical Commentary has two new books: Bob Yarbrough’s 1, 2, and 3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) and Gene Green’s Jude and 2 Peter (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)
.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Doug

    great post and amen.

  • John Lussier

    Looking forward to any other book recommends you have outside of the commentary and reference section!

  • James Petticrew

    My wife may well be sending you an e-mail in which she calls you a tempter

  • http://www.theparablelife.blogspot.com Michelle Van Loon

    Books always fit, always match my decor of other books and are always in season. They’re my favorite gift.

  • http://www.virtuphill.blogspot.com phil_style

    Indeed, I’ve sent books half way around the world for this Christmas!
    My preference is hard-back. Remove the jacket and sort on shelf by colour. Decoration and Knowledge!

  • Clay Knick

    As always thanks for this!
    And I love the gift suggestion for…myself! :)
    I’ll do that this year, I remember you telling
    us about this last year.

  • rob

    “And I love the gift suggestion for…myself! :)”
    Only us book fanatics can appreciate that!

  • http://danbrennan.typepad.com/ Dan Brennan

    Books are always great presents.

  • http://www.biblePresChurch.org Bob Smallman

    “We don’t need multi-volumed commentaries on the Gospels.”
    For me the classic example of disproportionate commentary length is Raymond Brown’s Anchor Bible on The Epistles of John. It’s 812 pages long, which works out to a little over 100 pages of commentary for every page of text. Sorry, but I don’t want to know that much about 3 John!!
    By the way, my only exception to your comment on Gospel commentaries is Dale Bruner’s two-volume commentary on Matthew. I know it’s quirky, somewhat padded, and some of his comments have to be taken with a grain or two of salt, but he manages to include a lot of thought-provoking material, especially for a preacher!

  • Your Name

    Scot,
    Good suggestions, but what commentary on Mark do you recommend for people whose Greek is less than rudimentary? I’ve heard good things about Eugene Boring’s OTL volume. Have you checked it out?
    Also, my impression from skimming through the new ESV Study Bible that many of their commentators are from the Baker series, and so I’ve been thinking I could get crib their “take” from that (though so far, I’m not comfortable with so conservative a critical apparatus…)

  • Scot McKnight

    “Your Name” #10…
    Joel Marcus
    M Eugene Boring
    Morna Hooker
    Collins (Hermeneia) …
    Those would be my top four of the sort you are looking for. Yes, Stein and France are conservative.

  • http://setsnservice.wordpress.com Tony Stiff

    Scot I’m moving through Holmes text right now and loving it. I appreciate the fresh translation though to be honest I haven’t retained enough to fully appreciate the difference. The critical introduction was very helpful and the greek side is very legable.
    Are there any good overviews out that could supplement his critical intro on Apostolic Fathers, sort of giving a more in depth historical setting to the writings that you would suggest?

  • Your Name

    Scot I’m moving through Holmes text right now and loving it. I appreciate the fresh translation though to be honest I haven’t retained enough to fully appreciate the difference. The critical introduction was very helpful and the greek side is very legable.
    Are there any good overviews out that could supplement his critical intro on Apostolic Fathers, sort of giving a more in depth historical setting to the writings that you would suggest?

  • Scot McKnight

    Tony,
    Try the books by Jefford.

  • http://stonedcampbelldisciple.blogspot.com Bobby Valentine

    Goldingay’s work on the Psalms is magnificent. I have purchased each volume as they became available and was waiting for vol 3. Can’t say that for most commentaries. The Intro in Vol 1 is a goldmine.
    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  • Chris E

    What about a commentary on Job? Anybody?


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