Building A Theological Library: New Testament Commentaries

August 7, 2013 — 5 Comments


Several months back, almost 6 to be precise, I finished up a series on building a theological library focused on Old Testament commentaries. I had meant to carry right on to the New, but one thing lead to another, and well here we are picking up the NT many months later.

Much like I did with the Old, I’ll be giving a short list of the top commentaries for each book. Challies is kind of stealing my thunder, but you’ll find we make many of the same recommendations. I’ll finish my series before his, but he is offering more commentary on the commentaries than I am. Instead I’m offering meta-commentary on the types of commentaries you find in each series.

So for instance, much like the Old Testament commentaries, the following series have corresponding volumes in the New:

Most of what I said in the summaries about these series also applies when it comes to the New Testament. In terms of my general familiarity, I had the entire WBC series on the NT, but sold several of the volumes. I had gotten a subscription through CBD which made each volume like $20. I then paired down what I kept to only the highest rated volumes (which I’ll share later). I’ve found the TNTC volumes helpful and have the complete collection (Old and New) in Logos. I currently don’t have any NIVAC NT volumes and only a couple of NICNT ones (Hebrews and Romans), but a few of each of those sets are on my radar.

In addition to these series, there are several that only have volumes in the New Testament:

Of these, the PNTC series is probably the most accessible, while the ZECNT is best suited for sermon development (or teaching). The BECNT is fairly technical, but not as much as the NIGTC which is specifically commenting on the Greek text rather than commenting on an English translation and bringing up language issues as needed. In Logos, I have the entire PNTC and NIGTC series (minus the most recent Romans update in PNTC, but I have that in print). I have most of the BECNT in Logos (except for a few of the most recent publications, but they’ll be added to the fold eventually) and have the entire ZECNT series in hard copy thanks to Zondervan (which means you can expect some reviews in the coming weeks/months).

That’s kind of a general lay of the land. For the average person, I’d recommend TNTC and NIVAC commentaries. For someone wanting to dig a little deeper, I’d go with a PNTC or NICNT volume. If you’re a teacher or pastor, BECNT, NIGTC, WBC, and ZECNT should be on your consultation radar as you do your exegesis. There are a few other commentaries I’ll end up recommending that are either part of another series not mentioned, or not part of a series at all. Next week we’ll start with the Gospels and go from there. It’ll probably look something like this:


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5 responses to Building A Theological Library: New Testament Commentaries

  1. Hi Nate,
    For a pastor if there was only one series for the NT it would be hard to choose which one to get as a whole set. I think I like Pillar and ZECNT (some arn’t quite deep enough though) series the best, NICNT are good except they are so expensive. In the BECNT series certain volumes I love – Acts, 1 Corinthians, Revelation. In the NIVAC some are great (Matthew, John, 1 + 2 Corinthians, Revelation and the ones by Garland). The first series I ever bought were tyndale and William barclay (I love his historical flavor), I still use them. Witherington and Keener are my favorite new commentary writers, and anything fee writes I love too. Just my 2c worth.

    • Thanks for your input Steve, I think I would agree with trying to decide between Pillar and ZECNT (if I had to). Some of the authors you mention will show up as I move through the different books!

  2. I’m looking forward to the series! It sounds quite different from mine in that I’m totally dependent upon other people’s recommendations. It sounds like you’re better equipped to speak from your own experience.

    • I appreciate that! I’ve enjoyed yours as well and am always see if I can guess which 4-5 you’ll pick. A couple times on the OT books we picked basically the same 5.

  3. You mentioned you don’t own any NIVAC. I’d just like to mention that Keener’s commentary on Revelation was one of the most helpful commentaries on the NT that I read (I read one for each of the NT with most of them being the more in-depth variety). And I’m nowhere near Pentecostal. He has the ‘gift of objectivity’, as I call it, similar to Fee. I look forward to your list, especially ones that have had new ones come out, like Galatians, Colossians and Hebrews.

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