Review: Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary

23493027The Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary is a comprehensive reference tool produced with the Bible teacher, pastor, and student in mind. This new one-volume commentary covers both the Old and New Testament. Each book of the Bible includes a brief introductory section that aims to provide a detailed overview of the circumstances of writing, including the author and background, the message and purpose, contribution to the Bible, structure, and outline of the specified book. The content of the commentary is arranged in a section-by-section format that seeks to help the reader gain a greater sense of understanding of the bigger picture of the biblical book, and the numerous illustrations throughout helpfully drag the reader into the biblical world with minimal effort. Each book of the Bible closes with a healthy bibliography that allows the reader to further explore specific interests of study.

Many readers will undoubtedly find the content of The Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary strangely familiar. That is because the basis of the commentary itself is the HCSB Study Bible. E. Ray Clendenen and Jeremy Royal Howard explain such in the preface, writing, “The basis of this one-volume commentary is the award winning HCSB Study Bible. Those verses that escaped comment in the original work due to space limitations have been included in the present work, with comments provided by E. Ray Clendenen” (p. IX). In other words, The Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary is essentially the study note content of the HCSB Study Bible with some additional comments and complementary illustrations reformatted and repackaged.

Should the reader who already owns the HSCB Study Bible seek to add The Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary to their library? This is ultimately going to be a decision that the reader must make. Still, two comments are in order that may help the decision process. First, after spending a good hour and a half intentionally flipping through the pages comparing content between the two resources I found little that differed from the HSCB Study Bible. There is additional content, but it’s minimal at best. Second, for most readers, I think that the format of The Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary is to be preferred over the HSCB Study Bible. It’s clean, easy to read, and user-friendly. Not that such characteristics are absent from the HSCB Study Bible, but rather The Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary is going to be a much better option if the study note content is your primary target for pulling the HSCB Study Bible off the shelf.

The Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary is an excellent one-volume commentary. It’s comprehensive and yet concise. It’s user-friendly and well formatted. It has a clear objective, and it accomplishes that objective with excellence. Takes the award-winning study notes from the HSCB Study Bible, written by some of today’s leading biblical scholars, expand the content slightly, add numerous illustrations, maps, and photographs, pack it between a high-quality hardcover binding, and you have the recipe for something amazing—a future best-seller. Regardless if you own the HSCB Study Bible or not, The Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary is a resource you will want on your shelf. It comes highly recommended.


I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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