Like unabridged dictionaries, there are commentaries that try to do too much that they become weighty, bulky, and come in multiple volumes that occupy space in our bookshelves. Then there are those like abridged dictionaries that are conveniently packaged in a smaller footprint but lack the depth and scope of coverage we need. What if we can have both in a single volume? Not many commentaries can do that. This new commentary by the faculty of Moody Bible Institute is a worthy addition to this category of good single volume commentaries. Called one of the "most ambitious projects ever undertaken" by the Moody Bible Institute, it aims to provide us with a concise, insightful, and informative enough for the general reader. With thirty contributors, all the 66 books of the Bible are covered with the hope that readers will adopt five basic criteria for understanding.
Diligence in studying the Scriptures themselves Recognize that time is needed, so be patient Empowerment for understanding comes from the Holy Spirit Obedience is key to understanding Always room to learn
What''s Unique about this Commentary? It is a work done by MBI which takes pride in their slogan: "The Name You Can Trust." Making it understandable is foremost in the minds of the authors. It spends time working with difficult verses, making use of the literal, conservative, and consistent approach. It believes that the Old Testament points to Jesus. While the contributors base their commentary on the original languages, they also use the NASB English translation as the main English translation.
I like the way the commentators weave in both Old and New Testament references to engage a whole Bible perspective. For example, in Genesis 3:1-6, the commentators do not simply deal with the sin of Adam and Eve. They describe the lead-up to the sin, and teaches us how often we can commit similar follies in our modern times. We get mini-sermons as well, seeing direct applications apart from the commentary on the ancient texts. Going through verse by verse at times, the commentary explains the texts, highlights some of the original languages'' nuances, and also connects the theme to other passages in the Bible. Where appropriate, there are extended commentaries on applications that modern readers will appreciate. Issues such as learning to apply timeless principles from Old Testament laws and regulations; contrasting the consequences of godlessness versus the promises of godliness; highlighting devotional material from the Psalms; wisdom from Proverbs with scholarship material from other commentaries apart from their own; a structural framework on understanding the Song of Solomon with an explanation of the different interpretative methods; and many more, making the commentary a very integrated one that aims to bring the central teachings across.
The New Testament is also marked with excellent scholarship, applying and informing readers about the different schools of interpretation such as source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, and other ways of interpreting the gospels. Each book begins with some explanation on authorship, approximate dates, who the intended audiences are, the purpose of the book, and how the book contributes to the overall thrust of the Bible. The bibliography at the end of each book is a valuable resource to use. This part alone makes this commentary an excellent primer to begin any in-depth studies of each book.
This is one of the must-haves for any preacher or pastor, student or teacher of the Word. Sometimes, there are commentaries that are heavy on the technical details but light on the practical applications. Others are too focused on the contemporary and lacks the heavy-lifting needed to be able to see the original texts for what they are. Creating a balance is also not an easy task especially when multiple contributors are involved. On top of that, the books of the Bible are of different genre and commentary will have to be adapted according to the way and purposes the book are written. That is why it is very difficult to apply any one standard commentary for all the books. Perhaps, readers can learn to take a step back and not allow structures and frameworks to become overly distracting. Read the Bible for what it is saying. Take time to pray and seek God for illumination and discernment about the texts. Study the texts for ourselves. Then use this commentary to shed more light on the texts. We need to agree with what the contributors are saying, but we can accept that there is another way to look at the texts. After all, students of the Bible learn best not by becoming dogmatic over their own philosophy but to be humble to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit can use anyone to teach us, including using this excellent 1-volume commentary on the Bible.
One more thing. As with the use of commentaries, even though there is an increasing use of electronic references, I feel that having a printed commentary is valuable too. Just to have the look and feel of a book opened in front of us enables us to study the Bible without becoming too easily distracted by pop up windows, the Internet, social media prompts, and other electronic beeps.
This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The Moody Bible Commentary, a comprehensive one-volume commentary of the whole Bible, provides an objective look at the historical and cultural backgrounds of each book and help readers interpret Scripture in light of Scripture. Editors Dr. Michael Rydelnik and Dr. Michael Vanlaningham deliver a reliable and well-rounded resourcefor students of the Bible.
While it’s clear that the writers are experts on their subjects, they write in a way that, while academic, is clearly understandable for any reader. The Moody Bible Commentary includes an outline of each book of the Bible, an introduction to each book, and then a more in-depth commentary following the outline given.
Honestly, I didn’t read the entire commentary. The ebook review copy I received boasted 4,050 pages! But I flipped through every page and found the layout and font to be pleasing to the eye, not overly tiring like some commentaries. I did read chapters on some of my favorite books, like Deuteronomy, Ruth, John, Romans, Titus, and James. I also read the commentary on some difficult passages. I appreciated that the editors and authors seemed to treat things fairly, often showing varying viewpoints, but tempering it with logical explanations of which views are most plausible.
I absolutely loved the charts, maps and illustrations throughout the book. For visual learners, they add so much to the meaning of various Scriptures. For example, in the chapter on the book of Leviticus, one chart outlines “The Laws of Sacrifice,” while an illustration of the Tabernacle makes the tent of meeting come alive. I also enjoyed how the editors placed an emphasis on reading the Old Testament through New Testament lenses as they helped readers see types of Christ throughout the Old Testament and even compared “The High Priests’ Ministries and the Great High Priest’s Ministry” in one chart. For those of us who are historically challenged, charts of the Kings of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and the Kings of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) help keep things in perspective. In the New Testament, charts help readers grasp “The Eight Signs in John” as well as “Jesus’ Seven I Am Claims.” And, readers come to a clearer understanding of the book of James with the chart outlining “Parallels Between James and the Sermon on the Mount.” Of course The Moody Bible Commentary wouldn’t be complete without the Scripture index and subject index at the end, which help readers easily navigate the extensive volume.
If you are looking for a one-volume commentary on the entire Bible, The Moody Bible Commentary fits the bill. It’s reliable and academic, yet accessible to anyone. I highly recommend it for serious students of the Bible. It’s got all you need—outlines, historical backgrounds, objective explanations, and charts, maps and illustrations that aid in clarifying meaning. This is one reference book you’ll rely on time and again as you dig deeper into God’s Word.
Reviewed by Net Galley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This is a really helpful reference book for Bible study. It has a commentary on specific verses as well as broader themes. It also makes connections with other Biblical references. It was a little bulky to manage electronically since it is so much information.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by , Net Galley