I do not have an unlimited amount of space in my home, or an endless amount of money with which to purchase books; so I want guidance on not only choosing books, but choosing the best books for my library. More specifically, as a Bible teacher and one who desires to teach and preach the Bible for the rest of his life, I need the best commentaries for my library. I have neither the time, the patience, nor the money to wade through the thousands upon thousands of commentaries available today. I echo what John MacArthur says in the foreword,
…there are more commentaries in print than one could or should read. Since time and money is of the essence and there is little benefit to be gained from collecting or muddling through inept discussions, every expositor is in desperate need of help in selecting the right commentaries” (vii-viii).
‘Commentaries for Biblical Expositors‘ is the fruit of four decades of diligent research. James Rosscup, the author of this excellent resource, is currently on the faculty at the Master’s Seminary. He joined the school in 1987 after he had completed his Master of Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1961, his Doctor of Theology degree from Dallas in 1966 and his Ph.D. in New Testament at King’s College, University of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1976.
Rosscup has poured his expertise, knowledge, and experience into providing Bible teachers and preachers with a resource that will enable them to effectively and efficiently choose the best commentaries for their shelves. Rosscup explains, “Those who agree that loyalty to God’s Word is more than just a claim as this reviewer is convinced, will appreciate the stand taken in comments about works that deal with Scripture. This author believes that he should tell his readers what they truly can expect in commentaries, that is, let them know if writings genuinely show belief in the reliability of biblical statements, or not…Another conviction behind this effort is that those who study the Bible are served most responsible and wisely if a list reflects writings both recent and old. Some of the best things writers of commentaries have said are in works before the present decades, yet some of the most help is in works of the recent production…Let us learn from both old and new, and give thanks for what is of benefit in both.”
The book is divided into seven sections. In section one, Rosscup provides a list of the best titles available on all 66 books of the Bible. This section is divided into three categories: Detailed Exegetical, Expositional Survey, and Devotional Flavor. Within each, Rosscup lists the commentaries, rating them in each category. For example, under I, II Samuel you would find this list:
- J.C. Laney
- E. Merrill (BKC)
- L. Wood
- J.J. Davis and J. Whitcomb (Hist. of Israel)
- J.C. Baldwin
The same is done for Detailed Exegetical and Devotional flavor for all 66 books of the Bible, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation.
In section two, Rosscup makes a list of commentaries of the whole Bible. The lists is arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name. Under each set of commentaries is a brief, 3-5 sentence explanation of the books. This section is broken down into two categories: Synthetical and Analytical. The synthetical list of commentaries deals with commentaries that are a more general, survey type of approach. The Analytical commentaries are those that are of a “more detailed, specific nature in discussion the text of Scripture” (27).
Section three deals with commentaries only on the Old Testament; this section is also divided into Synthetical and Analytical Categories and also has brief explanations of the books underneath their title.
Section four lists commentaries on individual books of every book of the Old Testament, beginning with Genesis and ending with Malachi. Here Rosscup’s explanations of the books can be anywhere from 3-8 sentences long as he deals with specific issues (either good or bad) in the commentary.
Section five is a list of General Commentaries on the New Testament, divided into Greek and English commentaries. This is immediately followed by section six which lists “Background Works and Special Studies in the Gospels.” Finally, in section seven, Rosscup provides a list of commentaries for each book of the Bible, beginning with Matthew and ending with Revelation.
I will close with a final word from MacArthur:
Dr. Jim Rosscup becomes for us the friend who helps us choose our other friends. This annotated bibliography of commentaries is so foundational and so necessary that not student of Scripture who intends to exposit it accurately and effectively should begin to select his commentary friends until he has spent time first with my friend, Jim Rosscup…This is a treasure and you need to learn to first make friends with it and it will introduce you to the other friends who will enrich your life and the lives of those who hear you.