Review: A Guide to Biblical Commentaries and Reference Works

27840610Few things are more valuable to a pastor or student than learned, guided advice through the increasing depths of biblical commentaries. A Guide to Biblical Commentaries and Reference Works (10th ed.) by John F. Evans is not the only option on the market, but it is certainly the best currently available.

A Guide to Biblical Commentaries and Reference Works opens with a 39-page introduction to orient the reader towards the task and methodology of the work. There are also brief sections devoted to old commentaries and foreign language works, as well as the principles used when evaluating the commentaries. Next, the reader is welcomed with a quick survey of a number of major commentary series. Here the reader is provided a high-level overview of the series, and each series is categorized accordingly—[L] educated laypeople, [P] pastor or seminarian, and [S] advanced students and scholars. The reader is also notified if the series is critical or mildly critical by Evans’ judgment (which is delineated clearly in the introduction). Finally, Evans provides a detailed walkthrough of each book of the Old and New Testament, provides brief comments to help the reader make informed decisions, and organizes them based on recommendation. The book concludes with a three library recommendations and a name index for quick reference.

There is much to be praised about this volume. First, Evans is well-read, and his treatment of the commentaries therein is both fair and trusted. Having read or interacted with many of the commentaries listed in this book, I continually found myself in agreement with Evans’ assessment. That said, the reader should be aware that others may disagree with Evans’ assessment. Second, Evans has a profound awareness of the target audience of each commentary and/or series and he tends to have spot on recommendations in this regard. This may seem insignificant, but it clearly distinguishes Evans’ from other options on the market.

Much more could easily be said but little else is needed. If you are looking for expert guidance for navigating the sea of biblical commentaries, there are few people recommended more than John F. Evans. A Guide to Biblical Commentaries and Reference Works is a trusted source that will save you a lot of money if used properly. It comes highly recommended!

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