Matthew for Everyone. 2 Vols. NTE. S.P.C.K. Publishing, 2002.
This is tough to review here as it really isn't a commentary. It is more a series of chats or mini-sermons. There are some insights into the text and some interesting ways to view certain passages, but this feels more like a newcomers Bible class than any sort of advanced study. Few Greek words are explained and the time and place of the writing are touched on lightly only.
Exodus. OTG. Sheffield Academic Press.
The author is far more academic and difficult to read for the non-student or specialist than are authors of other books in this series. Most of the book revolves around the ideas that Exodus is not historical in any way and that the author's thought on the D and P strands of the JEDP theory are right and all other opinions are wrong. A comparison would be to studying the Mona Lisa by examining the picture as generally perceived, the brushwork, the model, the artist, and historical appreciation for the work versus cutting the picture into little pieces and only discussing the picture in fragments and pile structure with the guide's opinion on pile composition being the major part of the tour. For the casual art lover, the former is far more interesting than the latter and results in less aspirin consumption.
Leviticus. OTG. Sheffield Academic Press.
The author does a solid job and readable job of explaining what the book of Leviticus means as far as we can tell. Some sacrifices, unclean birds, and other things are lost to obscurity. We do get a solid idea of what Jewish worship looked like and an understanding of the Holiness of God as it related to Israel and the ancient world. Sacrifices, the Holiness Code, Sacred Days, and more are covered here.
Joshua: No Falling Words. FB. Christian Focus Publications, 2000.
The author has a pleasant style and a knack for relating the world of the Old Testament with the world of the modern church. While he can delve into the meaning of Greek words and talk about when the book might have been written, this commentary seemed more devotional than I expected. This isn't a bad thing and he offers good insights into how this book can be taught in a relevant way. The only negative is the simple fact that the second half of Joshua where the land is divided amongst the tribes is, along with the genealogies and parts of the law code, the least interesting part of Scripture to the modern reader. Faced with a list of city names that often no longer even exist and a case where a single map is worth thousands of words, Davis struggles valiantly. He often succeeds in drawing out lessons from these passages, but there are times where he struggles and the ideas he presents are strained pietism. Still it is impressive that he succeeds as often as he does in the latter part of the book and the first half is an excellent pastoral or devotional commentary. I can't wait to see what he does with the far more interesting world of the Judges.
Genesis 1-11. OTG. Sheffield Academic Press, 1991.
Somewhat dated look at the various interpretations of Genesis 1-11 and a variety of issues with these 11 chapters such as if the account is a myth, if several accounts are woven together, etc... The author does an honest job of presenting various views succinctly and with fair readability
Genesis 12-50. OTG. Sheffield Academic Press, 1992.
Other than being somewhat dated, this is an excellent survey of ways that Genesis 12-50 is and has been viewed. It tends to defend the historicity of the patriarchs and brings interesting ideas to the table such as understanding how those who finally wrote down the text of Genesis used various names for God to make points rather than just interweaving strand of text. The understanding Temple Judaism had of Genesis is also addressed cleverly.
Revelation. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1987.
The Tyndale Commentaries end with a solid volume that is easy to read which is appropriate as generally the whole series is a solid work aimed at the interested rather than the already educated. That Leon Morris could make a commentary on Revelation readable as well as educational is a fine feat. The intro is brief but answers basic questions about who might have written Revelation. The simplistic Greek style which is quite different than the other works of John is noted, but in general the author tends to favor traditional views. The commentary does good job of referring to the times John was writing in as Professor Morris speaks of the church of the first century as well as Rome, Nero and other Roman Emperors. It also speaks of the end of days and the prophecies yet to come. Various beliefs that have been drawn from Revelation are also explained. A book worth reading.
The Letters of John. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1988.
A fine commentary that has depth but also explains the letters in a way that the layperson can understand. The intro is strongly pro-John the Apostle as the author and does a fairly in depth look at the first letter and the epistle sharing much in the way of thought and language. This is followed by the second and third epistles showing similarities to the first. The meat of the book is the commentary which requires thought but is accessible. One notable suggestion was that the heresy mentioned was that of believing that Jesus became Christ at his baptism and ceased to be Christ before the cross. This John combated by writing specifically that Jesus was Christ through, not at, water (baptism) and through, not just before, the blood (crucifixion). There are quite a few well explained concepts such as this in the volume.
2 Peter and Jude. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1987.
A solid commentary that feels a bit old and overly pious. The intro is solidly pro-Peter as the author of the first of the books and and pro-Jude for the second. The reasons given are solid conservative, but maybe a bit contrived. The question of why 2 Peter 2 and Jude are so similar is addressed though not much is decided save that there might have been a text from which they both drew. The commentary itself feels a bit like a sermon but often has good information and sometimes quite clever comments. It is written at a level that is usually easily understandable.
1 Peter. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1988.
I am a commentary flyweight who ran into a welterweight commentary. What I want from these Tyndale volumes is a nice intro that positions me to understand the author, time, place, message, etc... and then a commentary that tells me in English what each section of the book is about. If the author can take me somewhat deeper while still maintaining understanding and has pastoral thoughts and applications so much the better. This commentary explains every single Greek phrase and often word in detail including all the connecting words. There is no overview, there is only word by word explanations often about why various English versions are wrong. I ended up knowing less than when I started and I got a headache. This is John Piper's favorite commentary on 1 Peter. I don't want to read Piper's favorite books. I want Piper, or Bruce, Wright or Moo, to digest these types of commentaries and then after grinding them through their mighty cognitive processes to tell me what the book is about. I recommend it highly for everyone who has a better education in Scripture than I do which is probably anyone reading this review.
James. TNTC. Eerdmans, 2007.
Douglas Moo is a fine writer who is both pastoral and informative in this volume. The introduction is strongly pro-Janes the brother of Jesus as the author and does a good job of explaining why while interacting with other view points. The commentary has depth without going deep into academic jargon. The book has both a moderate academic feel and practical teaching on one of the most practical books in the Bible. I appreciated that the writer didn't shy away from controversies such as the question of grace versus works as James and Paul sometimes seem to be at odds with each other. The author feels that Paul is referring to works before salvation while James is demanding fruit after salvation. I'm not fully convinced, but it is a good argument and may well be correct. One of the New Testament commentaries in this series that is worth buying on its own.
Hebrews. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1983.
Another workmanlike commentary in the Tyndale series. The introduction covers the much debated question of authorship predominately. The commentary explains many Greek words and is more scholarly than inspiring. It tends to shy away from controversies in the book of Hebrews such as the author's use of non-messianic passages from the Old Testament in a messianic context. This is likely appropriate in a conservative commentary, but there were times I found myself turning to other sources to try and discover the answers to some obvious questions. Worth reading if you own the series, but not buying as a stand alone.
The Pastoral Epistles. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1990.
These three letters are largely approached in both the intro and the appendix from the vantage point of who wrote them and refuting those who believe that they were written much later by someone other than Paul. This also spills into the commentary. Since many of the letters of Paul have been questioned in recent years, this is valuable information presented fairly simply. The commentary is solid if unremarkable. Since there is much repetition from Paul in three similar letters and a fair number of technical problems with understanding his writing, trying to offer historic solutions to the problems and picking the best one while trying not to repeat yourself is about the most you can hope for in a more intro volume. This the author accomplishes.
1 and 2 Thessalonians. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1984.
My theme though out the New Testament Tyndale commentaries has been that they are consistently solid. A few writers like France, Bruce and Wright are brilliant, but most are fine Christian academics whose works are worth reading if owned but not seeking out. This volume continues this theme with helpful if brief introductions to both books and commentary that helps the reader understand the text. The Greek words are explained in simple enough to terms to be understood and the main theme of the text is maintained. In short a solid read for an interested layman but nothing memorable.
Colossians and Philemon. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1989.
This is my first time reading NT Wright and his mix of insight, attractive writing style, and preaching made this one of the best of the Tyndale Commentaries for me as it informed me and caused me to desire God more deeply which was unexpected in a commentary. Colossians is the bulk of the volume. The intro mostly covers when and where the letter was written and who Paul was opposing. NT Wright believes this to be the Jews while I tend to think it was Judiazers, Pharisees who came to Christ yet still wanted Judaism, though in the end the difference is rather small. The author's opinions do run counter to some other positions, but I think he defends them well. The Commentary portion is fairly deep for an intro commentary but written simply enough to understand. I read it more slowly than some others in the Tyndale line but also profited more, so a fair trade-off. Philemon is more of an add-on though a solid little work where the author sees Paul as being Christ-like as a connection between Paul Philemon.
Philippians. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1988.
As an interested layman rather than a seminarian, I can be confused by the language of the professional seminary instructor. Here the author gives a solid and understandable look at Philippians in language I can understand. As usual in this series, the introduction does a good job of looking at questions about authorship and in this case particularly when and where this letter was authored. The commentary gave solid insight without getting too tangled in the individual Greek words and losing sight of the greater whole. It interacted somewhat with the various theories about various passages. Overall a solid source of information for the novice commentary reader.
Ephesians. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1989.
An extremely knowledgeable professor writing 200 pages on a 10 page letter while trying to keep the level introductory is in a difficult position. Several of the Tyndale commentaries on Paul's shorter letters fall into this category and most come across as workmanlike and worth reading if they are already in your library. With a new commentary replacing this one in the Tyndale series, it is difficult to recommend searching this one out. Here the introduction is interesting for its thoughts on the Pauline authorship of the letter. The commentary is a bit deeper on the Greek and more academic than some of the previous commentaries. There are a number of fine thoughts on Ephesians, but mostly standard comments.
Galatians. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1989.
Another solid volume in the Tyndale series. A good intro that focuses somewhat on whether the letter was written to the north or south Galatians which is a theme that also informs the commentary. This volume goes deeper into the Greek than most other volumes in this series so far, but you would expect this in a 240-page book that is explaining a 3000-word letter. This turns the commentary into something closer to a middle-tier rather than an intro commentary. You feel like you are in solid hands with Cole as your teacher.
1 Corinthians. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1986.
A fairly concise volume. The intro is a standard brief Tyndale intro. The commentary is generally workmanlike which matches the book. This changes with the love chapter. As this beautiful chapter unfolds, Leon Morris shows his ability to take a beautiful passage and add both beauty and depth. This is the high point of the volume.
2 Corinthians. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1987.
2 Corinthians can be difficult in that it is largely a letter challenging an ancient church and presenting the credentials of the evangelist. Rarely have I been more aware that I am reading someone else's mail. Colin G. Kruse does a good job untangling questions of the timeline of the two letters to Corinth in the Bible and why the ending of 2 Corinthians seems in some ways to be tacked on. The commentary on the verses is competent but not particularly insightful or inspiring. This might be a commentary better suited to preparing a sermon on a difficult book rather than reading for personal growth.
Romans. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1985.
A well thought out and well written commentary. If there is a negative it is that this book might be too complex at times for an introductory series like the Tyndale. It seems more like a mid-level commentary. The introduction has all information you expect and the final section which is a paraphrase summery of the book is a good way to gain some understanding of Romans before you dive into it. There tends to be a fairly lengthy commentary on each of the sections of Romans where most of the meat of the commentary can be found. Verses are then touched on as needed, often quickly breaking down Greek words or concepts. The author is a clear expert on his subject and good at explaining his thoughts on Romans and Paul. There are points which require a bit of work to follow along for the more novice reader, but the it is definitely worth the effort.
Acts. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1980.
As a novice commentary reader, I generally appreciate the Tyndale series. This volume as usual had a solid intro, but the commentary too often simply repeated the text using more words. Simple ideas were often repeated and the whole book often felt mundane even to a novice. The other issue is that the author was often criticizing another author with whom he disagreed. It was rather like listening to a one sided phone conversation. To be fair, I'm not sure how exactly you would write a commentary on Acts as it is unique in Scripture since it is church history. The life and theology of Jesus and the kingdom that permeates the Gospels and the Pauline theology of his many letters are missing here. This is more a commentary on a work like Josephus' histories than a tradition New Testament book. Since I'm an armchair historian, I may simply have been exposed to better writers of and about history and history books. There are moments of insight and I'm sure the book has uses for pastors with little historical knowledge.
John. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 2004.
As with virtually all the Tyndale Commentaries, this volume begins with a solid set of introductory articles. Topics like purpose and structure, authorship and date are well covered. Where the commentaries vary more is in the actually commentary. Here there is much to recommend as Dr. Kruse has valuable insights while staying solidly inside Christian doctrine. On the negative, there is a fair amount of repetition even in verses that are close to each other and some of the commentary is rather mundane. A bit more editing might have been in order. There are a few differences with the other volumes in the series. While generally the commentaries cover both a pericope and a paragraph, here there is more a phrase by phrase explanation. Also this volume contains the actual Scripture along with the commentary. In reading the four volumes covering the Gospels in the Tyndale series, all are solid and worth reading but it is the RT France volume that stands as the towering work.
Luke. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1988.
Solid is the word that sums up this commentary. The relationship of Luke to the other Gospels is a particular highlight of the introduction and one that other books in the series defer to. Throughout the commentary, Dr. Morris tends to have a summary introduction of a longer passage and then break it down one or two verses at a time. This is a nice approach as it sets the stage for the deeper exegesis and sometimes compares the passage to its setting in the other Gospels. He is clearly an accomplished scholar, as he often relates verses to other Jewish writings of the time which the armchair commentary reader might not otherwise be aware of. The author also doesn't shy away from controversies but approaches them with a solid Biblical view that most will appreciate. Well worth reading.
Mark. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1989.
A fine commentary that was largely devotional but had some academic aspects as well. Mark seems like it could be a tough Gospel to write about as it can be eclipsed by the other three. In fact, the early church largely ignored it. Here we have a fine intro and solid commentary. Given that Mark was likely written for Rome which was a massive mission field for both Peter and Paul, having this commentary written by a missionary was an excellent decision. This feeling of mission work in the third world adds impact to many parts of the commentary. The world as we know it didn't exist inside the sometimes brutal Roman Empire and sometimes the seeming chaos of the third world makes for a better backdrop than our skyscrapers and Lamborghinis. One interesting idea was that the author chose three somewhat representative commentaries to interact with. The broad spectrum of their opinions gave an interesting foil to the fairly conservative stance of the commentary.
Matthew. TNTC. InterVarsity Press, 1986.
As with most of the commentaries in this set, the introduction was well done. The things you want to know about Matthew such as structure, the high regard with which this Gospel was held by the early church, the frequent use of Old Testament references, and much more are covered briefly but in some depth. It is the commentary itself where this book really shines. Dr. France manages to be academic, instructional, and devotional at the same time. While not everyone will agree with him, his belief that Christ's words are intended to create discipleship in believers rather than simply as ethical statements both instructed and convicted me. When you need to understand a word or a concept, he can dig in, but he also has a pastor's flair for applying Jesus' words to where we live.
Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1981.
Doctor Baldwin had a way of writing that kept my interest and taught me things at the same time. This final book in the Tyndale OT series did a fine job of explaining the last three books of the Old Testament. Possibly more important, the work looked backward to the entirety of the story that had been woven across the Tanakh and forward past the years of silence to the coming of Messiah. It felt like a capstone as well to the long journey through 28 books of the commentary. A journey worth taking.
Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1989.
Solid introductory commentary that was readable and useful. I have struggled with some of the Tyndale Commentaries on the prophets that really became word by word studies or dove deep into running arguments with other commentaries. Here the introductions are simple and to the point about who, when, where and why. The commentaries were readable and useful especially on Habakkuk where the Scripture seemed rather confusing to a modern reader. The words were addressed where there was an issue with the text or meaning was vital, but generally, these commentaries were about the overall text and theology.
Obadiah, Jonah, Micah. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1989.
It is always hard to talk about a book with three authors. Overall it is a solid learning experience if a bit too in-depth at times for an intro commentary. I really think Tyndale should have done the 12 minor prophets in 3 books instead of 5. Obediah is so short you just kind of read through it and say oh. Not bad, not special. Jonah is the highlight of the work. There is a fair amount to talk about since there are many opinions about whether Jonah was real or a story, got swallowed by a whale, could have survived, etc... The author takes a reasoned conservative approach which worked well for me. Micah has a great intro which makes you care about the man and his message. The commentary at points is quite good and other times becomes a one-sided argument with other commentaries.
Psalms. 2 Vols. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1981.
I read these books some time ago around the time of a surgery so I'm going off memory. Dr. Kidner is a fine writer and gives concise comments on the Psalms. He clearly has a great understanding of Old Testament wisdom literature and can communicate his knowledge well. I like that you feel you have learned something about the overall book and the individual Pslams that can vary widely in age and author. I enjoyed the second book more than the first, but this was likely the subject matter. I'm fortunate not to have enemies and I struggled with some of David's works of cursing. Even in these less than engaging poems, the author was useful in explaining the times they were written and how the New Covenant changed our attitudes.
Joel and Amos. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1989.
After disliking the Hosea commentary which seemed to have no flow in the English language, I was worried about starting this book. Thankfully it was much more readable and gave a workmanlike effort to understanding the two books. I think solid but unspectacular is the way to describe everything here. The intros set the time and place and interact with scholarship about the books. Since there is more text to Scripture ratio than most Tyndale books, there is more room for talking about other commentaries. Joel is viewed as dealing exclusively with grasshoppers which is a bit odd as I assumed some symbolism. Amos is presented as the first of the later prophets which helps set his place.
Hosea. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1990.
I'm in the minority and hate to be too critical of a fine scholar, but this book I struggled with. The introduction is workmanlike and does its job. The first three chapters are in the same vein. Once you get to chapter 4, the parenthesis start in earnest. One sentence had them and long digressions between every single word. There can be 10 references to other verses or four references to other works several times in a sentence. For the intro type student, it is just too much. There is a certain type of scholarly writing that you see in academia and thesis and such that is so dense as to be unreadable to the non-specialist. This book borders on that style. It is hard to even comment on content as too often I was just confused by the format. A better book for you who are better educated and understand such technical writing.
Daniel. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1981.
Reading Dr. Baldwin is one of the pleasures of the Tyndale series. Here she does a fine job of setting the time and place of Daniel. Her thoughts on an older work versus a second-century date are solid and, since I tend to be conservative, appreciated. She interacts with other opinions without getting bogged down or overly complex for the introductory reader. While the book of Daniel is arguably the more exciting of the prophets, the commentary does hold your attention and gets its points across better than most of the other Tyndale books on the prophets which can be a touch uneven. A joy to read from cover to cover.
Ezekiel. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1981.
There are several fascinating parts of Ezekiel such as his signs and the Valley of Dry Bones. Like Jeremiah there are vast portions involving the cursings of nations that make for difficult reading millennia on. Equally tough can be most of the last eight chapters with measurements and allocations of land. It would take a great commentary to really bring this book to life and this workmanlike effort isn't that book. The intro is solid as with most volumes in the series. It covers briefly the book and historical thoughts, the prophet himself, a nice chronology, the setting and an overview of what we will see. Then there is the bulk of the volume which is solid but less than interesting commentary. Too often it just seems to repeat the text in a mildly different way. This is a solid volume in the context of a complete commentary series. Given the age of the book and newer and better volumes that have come out in the intervening decades, it is hard to recommend as a stand-alone.
Jeremiah and Lamentations. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1981.
This book is a bit long at the tooth and it is tough to write about Jeremiah and Lamentations for the non-seminary student which is roughly who the Tyndale series is for. Isaiah has much about the Messiah, Ezekiel's visions are fascinating and Daniel is replete with end times significance. While all these things are marginally true of Jeremiah, much of the book is simply prophecies about the terrible things about to happen to Israel and the terrible things that happened to the prophet. Lamentations is equally depressing. Trying to explain and make relevant such a book is not easy. Dr. Harrison does a competent job on this thankless task but is constrained by a tight page count. The intros to both books are quite educational though very brief. The actual commentary is competent but sometimes uneven. In a sense like the Isaiah commentary before it, you get the feeling of a longer and more technical commentary that had been cut down. Some passages are covered in overview while other times the book delves into Hebrew word study that is possibly too advanced for the intended audience. Solid as a part of a fine series, but there are probably newer and better single volumes available.
Isaiah. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1999.
This is something of a condensed version of a longer and more complex commentary by a superb scholar with the good and bad that this implies. Dr. Motyer is clearly a good writer with an amazing grasp of his subject. In some ways, this feels like the capstone of a lifetime study. Sometimes however the book is much more like an in-depth word study than an introductory commentary. The intro is fine though brief as it sets the stage for the lion's share of the volume which is commentary. This signals a work that requires attention and sometimes re-reading. To be worth the effort, the thoughts and explanations need to be educational and even at times inspiring and Dr. Motyer does this well. Especially in the later chapters that are more prophetic, the commentary really shines. Worth the effort.
Proverbs. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1981.
Proverbs is by its nature difficult to examine in-depth, it is non-linear and rather like trying to comment on the sayings of Poor Richard's Almanac in the secular world. To present a cohesive experience, Dr. Kidner cleverly brings the most common subjects of the book together in a studies section and includes a short concordance. The studies particularly cull the book for a linear look at its most important topics and are very readable. His introduction is also a pleasure to read as he is a fine writer and as mentioned in another review, a sage. Combining both wit and learning is a rare gift. The commentary is handled well with reference to earlier thoughts to avoid repetition. This can be a bit annoying if you have forgotten what went before, but I doubt there is a better way to handle the problem of repetition which is frequent in Proverbs. Overall a great introduction to a tough book when thought of as a whole rather than parsed into pithy sayings.
Ecclesiastes. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1983.
Michael Eaton's concept of Ecclesiastes as a work viewing alternately heaven and earth, under the sun, seems to make sense of the complexity in this part of the Wisdom literature. When earthbound, the author is pessimistic, but when he turns his eyes heavenward, he recognizes the value of faith. As with most Tyndale commentaries, the introduction is informative. It talks about topics ranging from the text, time and setting of the book through the purpose of the book. As with most Wisdom literature, these topics are useful and interesting for the commentary novice.
The Song of Solomon. TOTC. IVP Academic, 2009.
The inherent problem with a single volume commentary for Song of Solomon in an introductory series is that there are too many words per verse. While a book like Genesis feels constrained by space, this volume would probably have benefited by inclusion with Ecclesiastes. Dr. Carr does a clever job of using this space by including what he called Subject Studies on the Garden, Love, Beloved and Wine before beginning his commentary on the text. Combined with a solid introduction especially on the type of literature represented by the Song and its interpretation through history, this book gets off to a fine start. It is the commentary that sometimes becomes too much of a word by word study for the beginner. While there are many rare words in the text, at times it simply seems to delve too deep into the Hebrew. Regardless this is a book worth reading, just be prepared for the Hebrew analysis.
Esther. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1984.
A fine short commentary that covers the historicity, literary style and various versions of the book of Esther. As with most of the Tyndale commentary series, the introduction is both easy to understand and informative. I wasn't aware, for instance, of the various editions of the book of Esther that have circulated or that the Old Testament contains a fairly basic version of the book. This is all explained and the additional material that is omitted from our Bibles is added to the end of the commentary which is useful.The idea of the casting of lots and using dice and such and how it relates to the book and the festival of Purim is also covered. The literary ideas of the book along with certain words or concepts that are repeated for effect though the work are explained nicely. For instance the idea of a Portion being an extra special blessing as opposed to just being one portion of an equal amount of food as in a portion of potatoes helped me understand not just the usage here but also elsewhere in Scripture. Overall this was a pleasant learning experience.
Ezra and Nehemiah. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 1981.
The introduction is brief, but this is because Dr. Kidner chose to address the many controversies that swirl around Ezra and Nehemiah at the end of the commentary rather than the beginning. I think this was a good choice as it let me focus on the text and the great rebuilding projects of the Temple, the Wall and in a sense Judaism itself. The most important parts of the text were the focus with the various name lists of geologies and who was building what part of the wall were given attention only as needed. It was refreshing to have an instructor who knew how to pay attention to the cruxes and inspirational messages of the text. The appendixes were quite interesting for someone how had little previous knowledge of the great debates that have raged over who, when, why and such the two books were written. Dr. Kidner did a nice job of presenting the various ideas, defending his positions and in the final analysis suggesting that if we lay waste to the text we don't really have much of a Bible left to study.
2 Chronicles. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 2008.
Jewish thought says that the Pentateuch is the most important work ever written. It is followed by the Prophets as lesser but still God inspired works. The Writings come after this and are inspired but not at the level of the Prophets. In fact some have suggested that Chronicles is the half step between TaNaK and Midrash. Since Samuel and Kings > Chronicles, there are no problems with contradictions. Samuel and Kings always trumps Chronicles unless there are questions of textual errors. The conservative Christian commentator doesn't have this option. Here our instructor often feels obliged to defend the Chronicler in an effort at rehabilitation even when something is clearly amiss between the two accounts of Jewish history. Another thing that the Chronicler loves to do is quote from the vast corpus of the Old Testament. Since it is highly likely that Chronicles was the last OT book written, there are plenty of references and allusions to be tracked. Our commentator tracks down every one and thousands that the Chronicler never imagined. As an educated guess there are 20,000 references intermingled with the words of the commentary. This is a huge problem as there are pages where the references take up more space than the words. Many sentences are so divided by numbers and abbreviations for books of the Bible that they are completely unreadable. One page on Solomon had over 100 references. It reminded me of a math text book that put equations into every sentence. To step into the positive, the introduction is great. The time and place of the Chronicler along with his message of hope, David covenant and extreme importance of the Temple are all well explained. When readable, the commentary has some solid points and is well intentioned. The only problem is that every passage and verse are given equal weight so the simplest and the most complex issues are treated to the same verbiage. This results in simple passages being repeatedly restated and explained at a level below that of a study Bible. Overall the author's dedication to the Chronicler and the introduction are remarkable, but the twin issues of unreadablity due to sentences interrupted by endless references and some commentary being very low level make this hard to recommend by itself. As part of the complete series, the introduction is well worth reading and separate commentary passages might be worth consulting.
1 and 2 Kings. TOTC. IVP Academic, 2008.
Who edits the editor? Dr. Wiseman was the fine editor of the Tyndale Commentary series and known for his expertise on Assyria and archeology. Unfortunately he seemed to struggle as a more general audience writer. Part of this seemed to be that as the editor no one edited him and this commentary needed some serious work. There were too many paragraphs that covered three separate topics with one sentence each and offered no depth on any of the three topics. Some sentences simply didn't make sense grammatically and all meaning was lost. There are some solid reasons to read this volume. The introduction is the best part of the book and lets Dr. Wiseman stretch his historical legs in a decent sized area. The early chapters on Solomon and the Temple are also worth reading for the insight on how it was build and what was included. Finally the destruction and deportation of Israel and then Judah by the Mesopotamians showcase the instructor's knowledge but are far too brief. It is the vast area of commentary in between that swing between simplistic, pedantic and archeology degree required that creates the problem. Dr. Wiseman seems to have been a wonderful Christian gentleman with tremendous knowledge to share. Sadly this work doesn't allow enough of that knowledge to flow onto the printed page.
1 and 2 Samuel. TOTC. IVP Academic, 2008.
An excellent introductory level volume on 1 & 2 Samuel. The author has the knack of making the books and her thoughts accessible but still offering fine insight. The introduction sets the Samuel books nicely into the broader history of the Biblical history of Israel. The explanation of the Deuteronomistic history was very useful. Much of the commentary was in depth and covered the passages both in insightful overviews and verse but verse, though there were times where the brevity of the volume showed and the commentary covered paragraphs instead of verses at a time. It is a credit to the author that I wished that she had an extra hundred pages to go deeper into every passage. In general the more important passages had the deeper commentary. When an unexpected question came up in Sunday School, I used Dr. Baldwin's explanation of how the Scriptures used certain story telling conventions to highlight important concepts inside history narratives. Since the question was on Genesis 1 & 2, I knew that what I had learned from her commentary was very useful indeed.
Judges and Ruth. TOTC. IVP Academic, 2008.
These two commentaries in one volume are both solid though quite different. Judges is aimed more at the introductory student, while Ruth edges toward the technical but both are understandable for the layman. In Judges, Dr. Cundall is respectful of the text, but not afraid to explore several options or meanings where appropriate. His thoughts about the dating of the book were quite helpful. He is good at supplying explanations for some of the odder parts of the book like the two passages at the end. When I read something that has me scratching my head and after reading the commentary I have some understanding, I consider the commentator to have done a good job. Dr. Morris presented a more textual commentary based on the Hebrew in the short book of Ruth. I must admit some of this just was beyond my level or interest such as why the fields of Moab were singular or plural. However his discussion on the name of God as the Patriarchs knew it was very enlightening. He has a light enough touch to get away with the technical in this sort of volume.
Joshua. TOTC. IVP Academic, 2008.
I suspect the book of Joshua is a difficult one to get right for the editor of an introductory level commentary series. Much of the first half has interesting events and Bible stories even a child can understand. The second half is often a jumble of completely unfamiliar and uninteresting names of cities, boundaries and deceased kings. It would require a writer with a high degree of technical expertise to make sense of this second half, but this might put the commentary beyond the reach of the layman. This commentary went the second route and while it tries to cater to the lesser student, it is ultimately more of a well executed mid level treatise on archeology and the Hebrew text than a spiritual work. If this were a commentary on the Doomsday book it would have a similar feel. There are extensive notes and many charts that show both the immense level of work that went into the volume and the level of understanding and interest in Jewish geography, both present and 3,300 years past, that is required to understand it. For the pastor and seminarian, this should be a great commentary and is in fact graded very highly on the commentary review sites for this reason. Even for the layman, this is worth working your way through especially if you already own the whole commentary series. The book isn't afraid to address questions of dating and the like though it does shy away from questions of morality that can trouble us in the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children in many cities. As you would expect the first half of the verse by verse commentary on events like the Jericho and Rahab or the sin at Ai is the best part of the book. Since this is likely to be what you are teaching a Sunday School class on, this commentary has value for the teacher.
Deuteronomy. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 2008.
The Tyndale Commentaries are generally conservative and aimed at the layman. This volume pushes both boundaries just a bit. The introduction in particular tends to drone on a bit in that academic way as it goes fairly in depth engaging expert opinion on age and textual makeup of Deuteronomy. The idea of Mosaic authorship is generally dismissed, which is a bit far for me but reasons are given. Meanwhile the vocabulary had me chatting with my semi-smart phone for definitions. I suspect an seminary student could handle an of this with ease and there is something to be said for expanding knowledge and vocabulary even at the potential expense of a bottle of aspirin. The chapter and verse commentary were worth wading through the intro. Doctor Thompson did a fine job of answering questions about the text with in depth and often insightful comments. There were even some questions left over in my mind from Exodus and Leviticus that became clearer to my less than academic mind. While there are some bits of Deuteronomy that were not all that exciting, I'm sorry some laws lose something in 3000 years, and a few that were horrifying, the commentary managed to keep me pressing forward. The references to the New Testament were solid and appropriate and there were some theological moments that made me consider things in a new light. While this commentary might be a bit beyond the scope of a casual reader, it is worth attempting even if like me you have to occasionally gather in all your grey matter in one lump and demand that it all work together in order to understand some points.
Numbers. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 2008.
The Tyndale series is a balancing act between keeping commentaries conservative and accessible yet answering questions about the text in an intellectually honest way. Doctor Wenham does a great job of answering lots of questions that come to mind when reading Numbers while still defending the inspiration of the text. It is fairly natural to wonder how many people were in that desert? Why are so many sacrifices so similar and what makes each type different? What was with this Balaam fellow anyway? What route did Israel take across the desert? The author anticipates these types of questions and offers answers from several perspectives. While he might suggest that one answer fits the facts or the spirit of the Scripture better than others, he doesn't cram a single one down your throat. At the same time you are aware that you are studying God's Word and not simply taking an ancient lit course on say the Epic of Gilgamesh. There are thoughts of application and as always with the series how the text looks forward to the Christ. I suspect this volume could be used the basis for sermons on Numbers without fear of going astray theologically. I came away from reading Numbers and this commentary feeling that I had a significantly better understanding of the book and even the Pentateuch as a whole than I had going in. There were some times when I had to re-read some pages and look up some new words, but it was worth the effort. This is a fine read for a layman dedicated to learning more about the Lord and his Covenant with Israel and the World.
Leviticus. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 2008.
It is very difficult to create a helpful or even a readable commentary on Leviticus. Dr. Harrison has made a fine effort that falls a bit short of unqualified success. The volume is in some ways explanatory rather than expository and glosses over difficult passages with an idea that we should just trust the biblical account. The introduction is a solid if slightly simplistic conservative rebuttal of various forms of criticism to which the Pentateuch and its third book have been subjected by critics for the last few centuries. The meat of the book is the first half where the author does a fine job of explaining the various sacrifices in language even a layman can understand. He also ties the text to the New Testament which is a solid teaching principle for a Christian work, but here it seems a bit forced and sometimes repetitive. For a student with little knowledge of the Jewish sacrificial rituals this is a helpful section indeed. The Laws that generally form the second half of the book are also explained but in a way that is often merely a slight rewording of the text followed by simplistic comment or two and a repeat of an already worn link to the New Covenant. Again the idea is solid, but it would have been twice as effective if done half as often. To be fair there are some later chapters that are more informative, but most often they simply have pat answers that avoid the actual questions a learner would ask. As a part of a commentary series, this is a volume worth reading. It would be tough to recommend it as a stand alone volume when better choices seem to be available. If you already possess the Tyndale series or have access to it in a library and have limited knowledge of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, the commentary on the first half of the book is quite instructive.
Exodus. TOTC. IVP Academic, 2008.
The Tyndale Commentary series is known as a work that is rarely less than solid, conservative and aimed at the Sunday School teacher or the layman looking to learn more about the Holy Scripture. This volume fulfills all these requirements. The verse by verse commentary is that of an able Bible teacher in a workman like effort. It doesn't have the raw inspiration of some commentaries, but it certainly will teach and won't lead you astray. One frustration is the seemingly constant suggestions to read other commentaries for more on a particular idea or theme. To be fair, this might be helpful to a student in a library with dozens of other commentaries on Exodus. To someone who bought the Tyndale series because he didn't have a multitude of other commentaries, it can become annoying. The introduction is solid and worth reading, but what really stands out to a Christian who is more learning than learned is The Theology of Exodus. This fairly lengthy section feels both inspired and inspiring as Doctor Cole seems to cover the entirety of biblical thought from themes in the book of Exodus. If you have access to this volume, read this section even if you don't plan on using the rest of the work.
Genesis. TOTC. InterVarsity Press, 2008.
This review comes from the viewpoint of a novice who is beginning to teach Sunday school. From what I understand this entire series is aimed at someone about my level and I'm thankful for it and the often low price that puts it in reach. The first volume seems to meet the needs of the layman well with solid information and some inspirational ideas that might be helpful. If you think of this book like the four parts of Genesis plus one for the introduction it is easier to 'grade'. The intro is very helpful whether thinking of the JEDP theory, the relation of Genesis 1 and science or looking forward to The Christ through the concepts of Genesis. The commentary on pre-history continues this trend. Sadly it all comes crashing down with a perfunctory and dull look at Abraham's life, but then rebounds for solid Jacob commentary. The final section on the Joseph story might be the high point of the volume as it recaptures or exceeds the level of the early part of the volume.