Choosing Commentaries and Dictionaries

If you are serious about reading the Bible, we also suggest you consider getting a Bible dictionary and a one volume commentary and perhaps a concordance.

A Bible dictionary is just what you think it is, a place to look up words you find in the Bible. You can look up “David”, or “Galilee” or anything you want more information about.

 A Bible commentary will give you information about each book of the Bible. Typically the article will discuss dating, authorship, the organization of the book and its main points and ideas. You do need to consider who the authors of the dictionary and commentary articles are, because their theological perspectives will obviously influence their articles.

We suggest you consider; HarperCollins Dictionary and Commentary, the Oxford Bible Commentary, and Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible.

 A concordance is like an index to the Bible. They tell you all the places a particular work is found. Often Bibles come with a concordance, although these often are do not tell you every single place a word is used. A concordance must match the translation you are using. If you use the NRSV you need a NRSV concordance.

 You can also get commentaries that cover each book of the Bible. Often these are part of a commentary series. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary, Interpretation, Anchor Bible Commentary, are a few to look at. There are many, many others, too many to cover here. Typically you will want to purchase a particular volume because of who the author is, rather than an entire set.

The Anchor Bible Dictionary is a multi volume Bible dictionary.

Often public libraries and churches have these resources available for your use.

A word about on-line resources.

There are many, many on-line commentaries and dictionaries available. However,they are older and on-line because they are in the public domain.  Biblical scholarship has advance tremendously in the past several decades. We know and understand much, much more about Biblical texts now. As a rule of thumb you are better off with a newer commentary.

There are some theologians whose work is always worth reading- we are partial to John Calvin ourselves.  A good place to explore classic Bible commentaries and resources is the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.



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