When Selecting Bible Commentaries, Go With A Variety

It has been a while since my last post.  School and home life are keeping me very busy, and I’m finding it difficult to find time to blog.  That should change when I finish this semester.  It’s going to be a VERY busy next four weeks while I finish out there two courses.  I will probably only be taking one course at a time from now on.   It’s just too much work with everything else in life.

So, on to the post.  I had a conversation with Dr. Garland yesterday about the Acts study that he is leading.  I was mentioning to him how nice it has been to work with two very different commentaries, and how well they seem to compliment each other.  He asked me to write that out for him, so I did.  I figured I would also put it up on here:

In my recent studies of the book of Acts, I have had the opportunity to work with two very different commentaries from two very different periods of time. The first is David Peterson’s “The Acts of the Apostles”, which is part of the Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC) series, published in 2009. The second is John Calvin’s “Acts”, which was first first published in 1552.

The differences between the two are immense, but I have found that they greatly compliment each other. Peterson’s commentary is very technical, and provides vast amounts of historical detail. Very frequently, he tries to provide his insight into the accuracy of translation based on the Greek. The level of scholarship is very high, and the amount of research that has been done for this commentary is impressive, as is evidenced by the exhaustive coverage he provides, and the massive amount of footnotes and external sources he cites. It is a very helpful resource.

Where Peterson lacks is in the areas of theological thought, applicable commentary, and personal insight. This is where Calvin really shines. His personality can be seen through his writing. Very rarely does he cite any outside sources, which leaves the content mostly to his own thoughts and insights. He thinks and writes very theologically, making the text applicable to his time (much of which is still absolutely applicable today), and much more homiletical. I have found far more “gems” of thought in Calvin than I have Peterson.

I recognize that the lack of technical and historical study in Calvin and make him much more prone to inaccurate ideas about the text, especially when it comes to historical factors that really illuminate the text. But, his insights can be so incredibly helpful and encouraging, which I do not get often from Peterson.

The balance that these two commentaries provide for one another is exceptional. Because of this experience, I will certainly be eager to try and find this balance again when looking for more commentaries on whatever I am studying. I believe that a good variety (type of commentary, time-period, nationality of author, etc.) is going to be far more helpful than a stack of the most recent, up-to-date commentaries.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s