When selecting individual commentaries, one should determine their needs before making a purchase. While there are several kinds of
commentaries out on the market, the four most common types are exegetical, expositional, devotional and cultural. The following describe
the intent of each kind, along with an example from each category:
Exegetical: These commentaries focus more on understanding the grammar and language of the Text. They are often
more technical and academic than other types of commentaries, and may or may not assume the reader has a working knowledge of the original
Biblical languages. Though scholarly in nature, these books are useful tools when studying through a book simply because they address
critical issues that are not discussed in the other types of commentaries.
Word Bible Commentary: Genesis, 2 Vol. Wenham, G. Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1987. (Advanced,
Expositional: These books are usually written by pastors who have preached through the book they are commenting
on. They are generally filled with easy-to-follow outlines, illustrations and applications for the reader. Oftentimes, these books are
taken directly from the preaching notes of the pastor writing the book.
Creation & Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Ross, A. P. Grand Rapids: Baker Books,
1996. (Intermediate, preface)
Devotional: Commentaries that are devotional in nature focus more upon reflection and application of the Text.
Their purpose is not to address scholars, but general readers. Nourishing both mind and heart, Puritan commentaries are some of the most
soul-searching examples of devotional literature the church has ever seen. A modern example would be the following:
The Genesis Record: A Scientific & Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings. Morris, H. M. Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991. (Basic, foreword)
Cultural: While not as prevalent as exegetical, expositional and devotional commentaries, cultural commentaries
are helpful tools when seeking to discover the background of the text one is studying.
The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Genesis-Deuteronomy. Walton, J. and Matthews, V. Downers Grove: InterVarsity
Press, 1998. (Basic / Intermediate, preface)
There are literally hundreds of individual commentaries on the books of the Bible, so trying to choose one with so many options can be
a bit frustrating. For the sake of space, only those commentaries, which cover the complete Old Testament and complete New Testament, will
The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 2 Vol. Walvoord, J. and Zuck, R. B., eds.
Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985. (Basic, preface)
The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 12 Vol. Gaebelin, F., ed.
Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1985. (Intermediate, preface)
The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Keener, C.
Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993. (Basic, preface)
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., and House, H. W., eds.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publisher, 1999. (Basic, preface)