A Layman’s Commentary Guide

I have received requests to post more books for the normal Christian who cannot read Hebrew and Greek (or Latin, for that matter!). So what I intend to do here is to publish the two or three best commentaries on each book of the Bible for laymen. My thoughts here are geared towards those (like elders) who might teach a Sunday School class, or a Bible study, and also those who simply want to dig deeper into the Word on their own. All books need to be read with discretion. I do not agree with everything in all these books. But I have sought to choose commentaries that will generally edify, and not lead people astray.

Complete sets: Matthew Henry, John Calvin, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Revised

Genesis: Currid, volumes 1 and 2, Hughes, Baldwin, Kidner; Exodus: Currid, volumes 1 and 2, Enns, Ryken, Mackay, Bruckner; Leviticus: Currid, Bonar, Mathews, Gane, Tidball; Numbers: Duguid, Wenham, Gane, Currid, Brown; Deuteronomy: Currid, Wright, Brown; Joshua: Davis, Hess (Tyndale), Woudstra, Currid, Hubbard; Judges: Davis, Younger, Schwab; Ruth: Ferguson, Duguid; 1 and 2 Samuel: Davis volumes 1 and 2, Baldwin, Woodhouse; 1 and 2 Kings: Davis volumes 1 and 2, Provan, Konkel, Olley; 1 and 2 Chronicles: Hill, Pratt, Selman volumes 1 and 2, Wilcock; Ezra-Nehemiah: Kidner, Brown, Fyall, Rata; Esther: Duguid, Jobes, Baldwin, Firth, Reid; Job: Jones, Andersen, Thomas; Psalms: Kidner volumes 1 and 2, Spurgeon, Grogan, Mays; Proverbs: Koptak, Kidner; Ecclesiastes: Ferguson, Kidner, Bridges (Geneva Commentary, out of print); Song of Songs: Gledhill, Carr; Isaiah: Mackay volumes 1 and 2, Webb, Grogan, Oswalt; Jeremiah: Mackay, vols 1 and 2, Longman, Ryken, Dearman, Kidner; Lamentations: Mackay, Longman, Ryken, Dearman; Ezekiel: Duguid, Thomas, Wright; Daniel: Duguid, Baldwin, Harman, Ferguson; Minor Prophets as a Whole: NIVAC volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4, Tyndale volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, Boice; Hosea: Burroughs, Kidner; Joel: See Minor Prophets as a Whole; Amos: Smith, Motyer; Obadiah: Marbury; Jonah: Ferguson, Estelle, Martin, Nixon; Micah: See Minor Prophets as a Whole; Nahum: Robertson; Habakkuk: Robertson; Zephaniah: Robertson; Haggai: Verhoef; Zechariah: Phillips, Webb, Kline; Malachi: Verhoef

Matthew: France, Garland, Wilkins; Mark: Garland, Lane; Luke: Sproul, Bock, Hughes, volumes 1 and 2; John: Carson, Kruse; Acts: Marshall, Fernando; Romans: Moo, Haldane, Boice; 1 Corinthians: Blomberg, Morris; 2 Corinthians: Garland, Kruse; Galatians: Ryken, Barnes, Brown; Ephesians: Ferguson, Hughes, Stott; Philippians: Boice, Ferguson, Thielman; Colossians/Philemon: Davenant, Garland; 1 and 2 Thessalonians: Beale, Morris; Pastoral Epistles: Ryken, Barcley, Guthrie; Hebrews: Phillips, Guthrie; James: Doriani, Manton, Moo; 1 and 2 Peter/Jude: Jobes, Helm, Schreiner; 1-3 John: Burge, Stott, Marshall; Revelation: Johnson, Poythress, Keener

32 Comments

  1. October 8, 2008 at 10:33 am

    […] Layman’s Commentary Guide I have written out what I think are the most important commentaries from which a layman would find the most use. I will follow up that post with a post about all the […]

  2. A. Barnes said,

    October 8, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Why not Derek Thomas’ “Let’s Study Revelation”, Sinclair Ferguson’s “Let’s Study Mark”, J.C. Ryle’s Vols. 1 and 2 on the Gospel of John and also his commentary on Mark.

    The “Let’s Study” Series is usually pretty good for laymen. Although, I haven’t ever looked at any except Thomas’ and Ferguson’s.

    Do you not like “More Than Conquerors” by Hendriksen on Revelation?

  3. greenbaggins said,

    October 8, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Andrew, those are great suggestions. One has to draw the line somewhere, and I have usually limited books to those with which I am familiar. I did not find Hendriksen on Revelation to be as helpful as the others mentioned. I am sure that all of Ferguson’s and Thomas’s works are well worth acquiring. I do know that Ryle is very helpful as well.

  4. October 8, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    […] for the Laity My good friend Lane Keister has posted a list of commentaries over at GreenBaggins that would be beneficial for laymen, particularly those who are teaching Sunday School classes or […]

  5. tim prussic said,

    October 8, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Pr. Lane, this blog has turned into one large commercial for Westminster’s bookstore! Have you seen the volume of hits dropping? It seems that controversial topics would be hit magnets and book reviews wouldn’t be. In any event, I’ve tried to be quite diligent in clicking every WTS book reference you put up so you get the point… I’m not going to be doing that on this post!

  6. tim prussic said,

    October 8, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Although, looking more carefully at your post, I think it’s quite a labor of love! I hope this proves helpful for many folks.

  7. Admin said,

    October 8, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you Lane, again, for providing your expertise in reading materials for the novice and this is a reallys special help to us who are training and teaching women in practical theology. You’re the best, Blessings, TheologyGirl

  8. October 8, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    On John’s Gospel, I’m surprised you missed Ridderbos’ towering work, and on Romans, Cranfield’s one-volume (non-original language) condensation of his two-volume classic is perhaps the best there is in English.

    Thanks for the list, however. It’s most helpful.

  9. October 8, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    […] And don’t miss this handy resource from Green Baggins: The Laymen’s Commentary Guide. […]

  10. greenbaggins said,

    October 9, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Andrew, I think Ridderbos would be a bit intimidating for most laymen (it is on my other commentary recommendation list for pastors). I have no experience with the abridgement of Cranfield, though I very much like the two-volume ICC commentary (which is also on my list for pastors).

    Tim, it seems to me that the hits have stayed fairly steady at around 1500 per day. The FV is going out of conversation. Doug Wilson has yet to answer my last posts in the debate, and hardly any FV’ers are posting on the FV at all. Maybe you can twist Doug’s arm to continue the debate.

  11. October 9, 2008 at 11:08 am

    […] Books for the Laity Following up my post on useful commentaries for the laity, I have made up a list (not THE list!) of books I consider to be helpful for the layperson in […]

  12. tim prussic said,

    October 9, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Pr. Lane, I’ll see what I can do about twisting. I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of leverage, but maybe I can get a first comment in one of his next posts – that usually stands out. I’ll say something like, “Pr. Wilson, Pr. Lane wants to know why you wussed out on the discussion with him over at Greenbaggins. What gives? Ya chicken? Love, kisses, and arm twisting! -Timbo”

  13. heldveld said,

    October 9, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you for the list!

    Over the past few years I’ve been reading quite a bit (by most standards anyway) but have just recently found how helpful commentaries are. Reading James by Doriani was very helpful and, some what to my surprise, not dry and boring. I’m also about 1/2 way through I Timothy by Ryken with much the same experience.

  14. greenbaggins said,

    October 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Tim, LOL! That’s great. You just go ahead and say that!

    Heldveld, welcome to my blog. Would you be willing to give your full name, please? I do not allow anonymous commenters on my blog.

  15. heldveld said,

    October 9, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    I can:

    Gary A. Veldhof

  16. tim prussic said,

    October 9, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Alright, I didn’t quite say that, but the hook is baited on his most recent post: Medieval Christmas. Okay. No talking – we don’t want to scare him away. We’ll just sit here and smoke these here seegars real quiet like and see if he takes the bait…

  17. greenbaggins said,

    October 9, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Thank you, Gary.

    Wow, Tim! I wouldn’t have put it quite like that, but he’s a big boy, and he can take it.

  18. tim prussic said,

    October 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I’m banking on a sense of humor! :)

  19. greenbaggins said,

    October 9, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I know. :-)

  20. Richard said,

    October 10, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Personally I also like both the FOTL and OTL series. Marvin A. Sweeney’s volumes on Isaiah 1-39 (FOTL) and on 1 & 2 Kings (OTL) are certainly worth mentioning.

  21. greenbaggins said,

    October 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Richard, I own those volumes and certainly intend to use them. However, in general, the FOTL series is geared towards scholars with a bent to literary criticism, not the general public. I think many pastors would not be able to read them. OTL tends to be liberal. Neither set is what I would recommend for the laity.

  22. Richard said,

    October 10, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Lane, I take your point; as with all series some volumes are better than others and I wouldn’t say that FOTL or OTL ought be the primary commentaries that one refers to but there are good volumes within each one, as noted above. I have gotten a great deal from the ones I have read, often when I have disagreed with what has been said. :-)

  23. greenbaggins said,

    October 10, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Yes, I agree, and that’s why I read such works as well.

  24. October 15, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    […] I would recommend buying excellent commentaries on the Exilic prophets. My recommendations are here and here. __________________ Rev. Lane Keister Teaching Elder, PCA, North Dakota (working out of […]

  25. Richard said,

    October 16, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    In terms of Exilic history, I have recently finished Martin Noth’s History of Israel which was very interesting.

  26. October 22, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    […] have two lists, one a commentary guide for the layman, and the other a post talking about all the other kinds of theology books for the […]

  27. Andrew Thornquist said,

    October 22, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you for the list, pastor! So, do none of the MacArthur commentaries float your boat?

  28. May 6, 2009 at 7:09 am

    […] I have a commentary suggestion post on my blog for less technical but still helpful commentaries here. __________________ Rev. Lane Keister Teaching Elder, PCA, North Dakota (working out of bounds in […]

  29. December 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    […] A Layman’s Commentary Guide […]

  30. July 31, 2012 at 10:03 am

    […] suggestion. For help in selecting commentaries, look no further than the board's own Rev Keister for recommendations. I've purchased several commentaries based on Bro Lane's recommendations and have yet to be […]

  31. David Morgan said,

    April 6, 2013 at 7:02 am

    You did an update on your other list of commentaries last year – are there any new volumes that you think should be on this list? (If you ever got round to doing a list of helpful older commentaries, I’m sure many people would appreciate that too!)

  32. greenbaggins said,

    April 6, 2013 at 7:16 am

    David, excellent suggestions. I will think about it, and maybe get around to an update of this list, too. I will also think about an older commentary list.


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