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Biblical Interpretation Resources

A guide for students and researchers interpreting biblical texts. This guide includes original language resources, exegetical tools, and guidance on scholarly commentary and interpretation.

Commentaries

(Click here for E-Book Bible Commentaries.)

Commentaries provide insight into books of the Bible. They are normally part of a commentary Series that contains volumes on each book of the Bible written by various scholars.

 

What Are Commentary Series?

Different commentary series have various interpretative points of view, methods, or theological perspectives. Each series provides a consistent genre of interpretation, that, while the different authors do not all perfectly agree, they do normally provide the same type of scholarly interpretation. (e.g. the Belief Commentary Series volumes all aim to provide theological commentary on the books of the bible, while the Hermeneia Commentary Series volumes aim to provide exegetical commentary in dialogue with original languages and context.) Some series are designed as aids to preaching while others are designed for exegesis of original languages. 

This section of the guide is organized by commentary series. 

Note: Some series are organized/classified in the library's collection as a set, while most are organized/classified individually by book of the Bible. (e.g. you can find every volume of the Anchor Bible Series in one section, while the Hermeneia series can be found in the section that corresponds to each book of the Bible)

 

Why Use Commentaries?

Commentaries enrich one's understanding of scripture. They can help you interpret the Bible in conversation with scholarship that aims to identify the context, meaning, significance, or issues within a passage. It can be useful to compare how different scholars interpret a Biblical text, or to use commentary series complementarily to arrive at a holistic understanding of a text. The various disciplinary perspectives that each commentary series provides can supplement additional research into the Biblical text (for example, from the ATLA Religion Database or monographs on the text). 

 

How to Choose a Commentary?

Consider the goals of your research. Are you looking for insight into the original languages of scripture? Historical context? Theological or pastoral application? A particular contextualization of the Bible (for instance, with an ecological commentary)? There are commentary series that focus on these aims (and many others) and also ones that aim for a more general interpretation combining varied approaches into one. This research guide is organized on the left by types of commentaries. Take a moment to read the descriptions of the series to discern whether they meet your research aim. It's always best to consider exploring approaches to scripture that expand your pre-understandings of the Bible.

Another way to choose a commentary is to look for commentaries (regardless of series) written by prominent or well-respected scholars in the field. Take the information you've learned about the scholarship from your courses, and see which commentaries those significant scholars have written. This approach can help you identify a trustworthy guide to the Biblical text, but it has limitations. It might limit you to interpretations of the text that you already find compelling (rather than challenging or expanding assumptions), and it relies on your knowledge about the scholars in the field (which is inherently limited and contains blind spots regardless of how much of an "expert" one may be).