Exegetical Commentary Guide
What are the best commentaries for working with the Greek New Testament? This guide provides you with my list top exegetical commentaries, along with the pros and cons of each.
What is an exegetical commentary?
Not all commentaries are useful for working with the text of the Greek New Testament. There are three broad categories of commentary, and it is useful to know the difference between them before you start.
These are the most readable and accessible of all commentaries. Sometimes they don’t even seem like commentaries. They tend to work well to accompany your daily bible reading (as long as you’re looking for something that doesn’t interact strongly with the text). These tend to be strong on application, medium on interpretation and largely don’t talk about the original language.
Most commentaries are expositional commentaries. These are the most popular type of commentary because they are useful to the widest variety of people. You typically don’t need to know Greek (or Hebrew) to work with them as they mostly work out of a translation. Expositional commentaries do provide interpretation, and often there is exegesis behind the exposition, but the exposition, not the exegesis is the focus of the commentary.
By contrast, an exegetical commentary focuses primarily on the original language and is often much lighter when it comes to application. Some exegetical commentaries provide more interpretation, others focus more on various forms of criticism, and don’t spend as much time on what the text means.
The commentaries in this guide are all exegetical commentaries, and while I’ve focused on commentaries that deal with the Greek text, I’m also looking for good explanations of meaning (interpretation), particularly in passages that are theologically challenging.
Top 5 Exegetical Commentaries
- Consistent quality throughout all volumes
- Some excellent individual commentaries
- Older or weaker volumes are steadily being updated
- Sometimes too brief (perhaps in volumes being replaced)
- Formatting is not clear and you have to look for verse divisions
- Often relegates discussion of Greek to footnotes, for this reason, could be considered expositional rather than exegetical
- More recent series
- Best-in-class formatting and layout
- Block diagramming (of English)
- Includes Greek text with English
- Includes a discussion of literary features
- Sometimes a little brief
- Lacks discussion of textual variants
- Not as many outstanding commentaries
- Series still in production, so some volumes missing (e.g. Hebrews and Petrine epistles)
- Solid discussions of the Greek text
- Good formatting
- Lists textual variants prior to comments
- Some volumes detract from the overall value of the series
- Series still in production, so some volumes missing (e.g. Ephesians)
- Some outstanding volumes (and some being updated by the original author)
- Overall excellent discussion of the text
- Additional notes covering text-critical questions
- Generally good formatting, though not on par with ZEC
- Inconsistent discussion and interaction with the Greek texts in some volumes compared to others
- Still missing one volume (Hebrews)
- Theologically consistent contributors who hold to a high view of scripture
- Greek-first approach to commentary
- Strongest interaction with text criticism
- Very good footnotes
- Primarily electronic – restricted to logos Bible Software
- Numerous volumes still missing
Note that links above may be affiliate links. By purchasing through these links you support this site without any additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!