There are a great many excellent commentaries on Hebrews.

Pride of place goes without a doubt to Owen’s seven volume Puritan commentary. What he doesn’t know about Hebrews, rabbinical works, and arguing that Jesus is the Messiah, isn’t worth knowing.

Second-rate (only because none can compare with Owen): Attridge, Brown, Ellingworth, Guthrie (NIVAC), Lane, Westcott, Pink, Hughes, France

Third-rate: Bruce, Guthrie (Tyndale), Koester, Long, Moffatt, Craddock, Hewitt, Buchanan, DeSilva, Luther

Forthcoming: Alexander (ICC), Allen (NAC), Carson (BECNT), Moo (ZEC), O’Brien (PNTC), Phillips (REC)

Conservative: Owen, Brown, Guthrie, Lane, Westcott, Pink, Hughes, Bruce, Guthrie, Craddock, Hewitt, Luther

Moderate: Attridge, Ellingworth, Koester, Long, Moffatt, Craddock, DeSilva

Liberal: Buchanan

Of the forthcoming commentaries, all but Alexander will be conservative. I don’t know about Alexander, but the series is moderate to liberal.


  1. Lee said,

    July 29, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    You put Hughes as second rate? I am shocked. How can Owen be so much better than anyone else when he mistakenly thinks the book is a sermon by Paul?

  2. Mr. Baggins said,

    July 29, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    Yes, I think that Hughes is second-rate to someone who spent 16 years on the epistle, and was *the* most learned man of his day. I think very highly of Hughes. But Owen is better. Even if Owen did not think that Paul wrote it, he would still rank higher in my estimation.

  3. September 7, 2006 at 6:45 am

    I would be very surprised if some of these other commentators spent as few as 16 years on Hebrews. Lane spent most of his career working on his two commentaries on Hebrews, and I suspect the same is true of Ellingworth. Attridge also surely spent quite a lot of time on his commentary. George Guthrie spent a decade just on his NIVAC, which is fairly short and light in comparison.

    The fact is that we now know so much more about the social background, languages, and so on, and we are building on the work of other people, including Owen, even with those who didn’t read him directly but read those who were influenced him. Later commentaries do tend to be much more helpful even if their authors aren’t as good at some things as earlier commentators were. Then, of course, there’s the issue of how much someone can actually read. 16 volumes is a bit ridiculous to read through for sermon preparation.

  4. September 7, 2006 at 6:54 am

    Biblical Studies Bulletin’s latest issue has a review of commentaries on Hebrews, written by Peter Head. He doesn’t even mention Luke Timothy Johnson’s new NTL, but otherwise it’s very good on pointing out strengths and weaknesses of the best commentaries. The link is here.

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