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Expositor’s Bible Commentary 2-volume Set

Expositor’s Bible Commentary 2-volume Set

In this review, we are looking at a very helpful tool for both teachers and students of the Holy Scripture, the 2-Volume Expositor’s Bible Commentary Abridged Set from Zondervan Academic. Zondervan provided a copy of this set free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback, just honest feedback; my opinions are my own.

 

 

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From the publisher:

Based on the critically acclaimed, Gold Medallion-winning Expositor’s Bible Commentary used by pastors, students, and scholars across the world, this two-volume abridged edition offers you the full, penetrating, verse-by-verse commentary of the 12-volume series while leaving out needless technical details. Marshalling the knowledge of fifty-two top biblical scholars, it brings tremendous insight to your Bible studies.

Covering the Old and New Testaments in separate volumes, this commentary features:

  • Verse-by-verse exposition of the entire Bible
  • 250 in-text charts, maps, tables, and pictures
  • Goodrick/Kohlenberger numbers for cross-referencing the Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordanceand other G/K-numbered resources

 

Translation Used

Naturally, this commentary set is based on the New International Version. Zondervan is the primary publisher of the NIV in the United States so it is a logical choice for Zondervan Academic to base its resources on the NIV.

Goodrick & Kohlenberger’s Numbers

If you are familiar with Strong’s Numbers, which are most often paired with the KJV, you will immediately be familiar with these numbers. These serve as a gateway to study of the NIV text for expository purposes.

You will find these numbers in the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, NIV Concise Concordance and, my personal favorite tool, the NIV Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible, along wth many other study resources. I would rate this as my favorite feature of this commentary set primarly because they link excellent commentary with a broad spectrum of tools to give a very well rounded understanding of the text of Holy Scripture.

Book Introductions

The Introductions are fairly similar to those in the NIV Study Bible. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you had this set along with the NIV Study Bible, you might well be able to forego the full 12-volume set. While there is no outline provided, the introductions are not lacking in any way because of that fact.When perusing the Book Introductions, you will find both historical and theological background information. Rather than approaching the Theological Background information from a Systematic Theology Standpoint, we actually look at theology from a Biblical Theology (more of a global theology) perspective.

There is also a treatment of author, intended audience, date/place/time of the book’s composition including, as I mentioned earlier, historical background information.

Though not in the introduction proper, there is also a section called the Old Testament in the New which displays the NT use of OT Passages. It is available for each book of the Bible and I would rate it as the second most important feature of the commentary set. Why? We can sometimes see Scripture in a disjointed manner and this section helps to bring the Bible into view as a unified cohesive unit.

The Commentary Itself

As I was working with this set, I noticed a very interesting feature: Though there is no outline provided, the commentary is laid out in the format of a detailed expository outline. This layout is very similar to what Dr. Wiersbe did with his Expository Outlines of the Old and New Testaments but in more detail.

It is a hybrid of a verse by verse and paragraph exposition. Following section headings found in the NIV, the commentary takes a section at a time and provides exposition on the text.

This is, absolutely, a seminary grade commentary but at the same time it is very approachable. It is conservative without being afraid to treat alternative viewpoints. It is geared primarily toward the pastor-teacher but will serve any student of the Bible very well.

Ancillary Tools

Maps, charts, tables, and photos all add to the explanation of the text. It is clear that, with these tools, Zondervan Academic has considered that a huge portion of our learning occurs with visual aids.

The Physical Book

Both volumes are hard cover with what is commonly called book paper. It is not overly thick but it is sufficiently opaque for marking in the text.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with NIV Tools

This commentary pairs very well with several NIV tools but I want to call out a few, here:

NIV Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible

I touched on this earlier, but the inclusion of the Goodrick/Kohlenberger Numbers, the HGK study Bible lends itself perfectly to exposition of the text

NIV Study Bible

Zondervan’s premier exegetical resource, the NIV Study Bible offers a gateway to expository commentaries. The materials in the two tools complement each other very well. There is information in the NIVSB that is not in the commentary and the commentary takes the expositional notes in the study Bible to a much deeper and, I think, more helpful level.

NIV Text or Reference Bible

This commentary set is sufficiently detailed that it can stand alone with a Bible that does not include exegetical study aids.

Final Thoghts

I am impressed with the amount of help that Zondervan included in this “abridged” commentary set. It does not feel abridged at all. In fact, had I never seen its 12 volume big sister, I would not find anything lacking in this set. Truth be told, I do not find anything lacking now. I would like a bit larger font and, perhaps, some lined notes pages with each book but those are matters of personal preference.

I would recommend this, first and foremost, for a Sunday School Teacher. Many churches do not realize the vital role that Sunday School plays in developing the members of the church and so Sunday School Teachers are, often, not very well equipped. In fact, this particular commentary is so helpful for teaching the Bible that I would recommend that each church have a copy in their library so that teachers with limited financial means are able to access the resources provided.

Tony Evans Bible Commentary Review

Tony Evans Bible Commentary Review

 

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I had, previously, written on the Tony Evans Study Bible and now we are reviewing the other component of the Tony Evans Study Set, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary. Note: Unlike the Tony Evans Study Bible, this was NOT provided by Holman for the purposes of a review; I sourced it at my own expense.

Notable fact: The Tony Evans Bible Commentary has a unique place in history as the 1st Bible commentary to be compiled and edited by an African American, Dr. Tony Evans.

Prefatory Remark:

I have certain theological disagreements with Dr. Evans (I am a Calvinist where he, clearly is not.) BUT I value the experiences that Dr. Evans brings to the table both as a person of color and as a pastor focused on the needs of the urban church. Dr. Evans’ emphasis on living the Kingdom Life really resonates with me. As Dispensationalists we are often accused of not being focused on current realities of the Divine Kingdom and Dr. Evans really blows that claim right out of the water as he teaches us to be aware of both the coming physical and political reign of Christ and the realities of living as Christ’s Kingdom Emissaries in the world.

Translation Used

Unlike most commentaries, the Tony Evans Bible Commentary is based on the Christian Standard Bible. I am quite glad to see this as several other translations offer a broad array of commentaries.

CSB as you will remember, is a mediating translation, which is to say that falls in the middle of being fastidiously literal and meaning based.

Cover and Binding

This is a jacketed hard cover with what appears to be an adhesive binding. Normally I prefer a sewn binding but that is frequently not done with commentaries.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper in the commentary is quite a bit thicker than in the Study Bible. It is a muted white and very opaque. While I don’t yet know if I will mark in it, you should have no issue with liquid highlighter, gel highlighter, colored pencil, or ball point pen.

The text is laid out in a double column paragraph format. It has a black letter text in around a 9.5-font. The text is broken up by the Outline as section headings, which are in a red letter font.

Supplemental Content

QR Codes

This is the first commentary that I have seen where QR codes are included. Each QR Code is linked to a video introduction provided by Dr. Evans and B&H Publishing. The videos are concise but fairly informative. The QR Codes are, actually, my favorite feature as they make the commentary more interactive, more personal, and less dry. I would like to see this feature carried on to other commentaries.

Introductions

Each book comes with a concise introduction, approximately 1-2 pages. They are nowhere near as detailed as in most other commentaries but they do cover the essentials: Author, Historical Background, Message and Purpose, and a brief outline. In this particular commentary, the concise introduction fits the overall intent of the commentary.

The format of the introductions is well suited for the person who is new to the study of the Bible.

Overview of Theology

Here, again, is a feature that is not often seen in a commentary but which is most useful to have. Virtually every commentator has a theological position from which he writes, in this case Dispensationalism. The inclusion of the Overview of Theology provides the reader an introduction to the commentators perspective as well as a lens through which to view the comments.

The late Dr. R.C. Sproul pointed out that everyone is a theologian at some level and it is clear that Dr. Evans agrees. We all have some form of theology and, in this case, the Overview of Theology helps the reader to lay out an orderly and systematic approach to that theology.

The Overview of Theology is very similar to the one Dr. MacArthur provides in his one volume commentary and his study Bible. In both cases, I am very glad to see it included. Helping our congregation to have a proper view of God is our foundational task as pastors.

Outlines on the Godhead

The entire purpose of the Scripture, and its study, is the understanding and glorification of the Godhead. Dr. Evans provides a basic outline of each Person of the Trinity to help us understand the Person, His role in Redemptive History, and how best to give Him glory.

This is a very important section to be included in any commentary. The most mysterious and inscrutable doctrine in the entire Bible is the doctrine of the Trinity. We cannot grasp this doctrine in its entirety and Dr. Evans does not try to get us to understand it. Rather, he provides clear and easily understandable teaching as to each person in the Trinity so that we understand the role of each and we are able to relate to them.

Topical Index

There is a brief Topical Index included. While a systematic study  of a book of the Bible is best, a topical study can provide an break in the intensity of your study. Also, the Topical Index helps with understanding how the Bible speaks to the issues of life.

Glossary of Doctrinal Terms

Many times in a commentary, we find unfamiliar terms. The inclusion of a glossary to define those terms is quite helpful.

Overall Thoughts

The Tony Evans Bible Commentary is not an academic commentary by any stretch of the imagination though that’s not a bad thing. It takes a fairly pastoral approach to the Scripture. The commentary notes are much more in-depth than the Study Bible but all of the notes from the Study Bible can be found in the commentary.

When pastoring a church as large as the one Dr. Evans pastors, it is very difficult to have one on one ministry with everyone which is where this commentary comes into play. The tone of the commentary is very personal. It comes across as though you and Dr. Evans were in his study and he was mentoring you through the Scripture.

I am very new to Dr. Evans and his teachings so I do not have many comments on his study material. I am pleased with the volume. I think it fills a need, one which we were, perhaps, not aware existed. Most commentaries are multi-volume and filled with theological language; even many single volume commentaries have this issue. The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, taking a much more pastoral approach, sits alongside the MacArthur Bible Commentary (single volume) as one of the most understandable and readable commentaries currently available.

Who should buy this volume?

The Tony Evans Bible Commentary would be fairly well suited to most Christians, but it is most suited to the new Bible student. Generally, commentaries are geared toward pastors and seminary students. However, in this case the commentary is more pastoral than academic so I repeat myself  in saying just about any Christian will benefit from it.

 

 

Halley’s Study Bible Review

Halley’s Study Bible Review

 

 

This review has been 20 years in the making. Before I explain, let me disclose that Zondervan sent this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not asked for positive remarks and my opinions are my own.

How has this review been 20 years in the making? In 2000 at the age of 18, I got my first copy of Halley’s Bible Handbook. It was a graduation gift from one of the men in the church. I loved that little blue book and used it till it fell apart. It was with me, along with my NIV Study Bible, every day. I said at that point, it would be amazing if that handbook had the whole Bible together with it. Now, 20 years later, it does. Shall we see if it meet’s expectations?

 

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My only complaint

I have but one complaint and it is more a gripe against me than it is against Zondervan- the font is a bit small for me. That is not really Zondervan’s fault; it’s more to do with moving into middle age and the attendant changes in eyesight.

Now that we have that out of the way…

What makes this study Bible different

Halley’s Study Bible is different because it is based on a handbook, the world’s best-selling Bible handbook for that matter. Zondervan makes some of the most in-depth study Bibles on the market today: The NIV Study Bible, The Biblical Theology Study Bible, the Quest Study Bible and a host of others. The Halley’s Study Bible is a counter balance in that it focuses on the essential material needed to understand and teach the Bible. There is nothing deficient, at all, about Halley’s Study Bible. In fact, it is everything I want in a study Bible.

We could call this a concise Study Bible. It is not overly technical with word stdies etc but neither is it as basic as one might expect givien that it is based on a handbook. The material is on  a intermediate level. Even for someone who has 20 years and over 1000 lessons on the books, I found the material helpful. I have been using Halley’s Bible Handbook for 20 years and, despite knowing the material well, it frequently jogs my memory; it also forces me to make sure that what I am teaching is readily understandable.

 

The Translation

The Halley’s Study Bible is offered in the New International Version. What else would you pair the world’s best selling Bible Handbook with if not the best-selling English translation? NIV is accurate, readable, and reliable. The paring is obvious but still delightful.

 Some people dislike the 2011 Edition of the NIV and I do understand some, not all, of their concerns. That being said, NIV IS the BIble to most of the Egnlisth speaking world and the content in Halley’s Study Bible explains that BIble quite nicely, which is, of course, the goal.

Cover and Binding

This Bible has a sewn binding complete with nylon threads. In several sections, Zondervan has made the sewing quite obvious. I love that. You can tell from looking at it that Zondervan intends this Bible to be very heavily used and thus gave the best binding option.

There are two cover options available, jacketed hardcover and leathersoft. Burgundy leathersoft is what Zondervan sent me and it is delightful. It is an imitation leather but it is very convincing. This cover should hold up quite nicely.

 

Paper, Layout, and Font

Zondervan’s 9-point Comfort Print font is on display in a double column paragraph format. Compared to other offerings from Zondervan, this is much more readable. The font appears to be in some type of Serif family. The notes are in an 8-point font.

As for the paper, it is a crisp white that catches the light nicely. This coupled with the darker font makes the text highly readable. Even the red letters are quite well done.

If you write in this Bible, which I do recommend, a colored pencil or ball-point pen are your best choices.

 

The Helps

This is where the Halley’s Study Bible really shines. The amount of content is just right. There are some things left out which are normally included in a study Bible but their absence in no way detracts from Halley’s Study Bible.

Book Introductions

Each book includes a one page introduction with full color photo, author and theme information. There is no outline provided which I don’t mind as someone who has been properly taught inductive study should be able to create their own outline. One feature of the introduction that I really enjoy is the key verse, the essential verse of each book being given its own call out.

Full color photos

There are more than 150 full color photos included. The choice to include photographs is a natural one given that so many Christians are visual leaners.

These are not infographics which could be helpful in and of themselves but they do illuminate the Bibilical world in a way that many other study Bibles do not and probably could not.

6000 study Notes

Drawing from the most excellent content in the Halley’s Bible Handbook, we are given 6000 explanatory notes on the text. 6000 notes is comparable to the number of notes in the KJV Study Bible from Zondervan’s older sister, Thomas Nelson Publishing. They are enough to answer the most important questions and to then get you to go deeper into the text. I would point out, there is enough material in these notes to help you put together a solid Bible Study, probably 3 years’ worth of teaching material.

NIV Concordance

I would not call this a concise concordance though it isn’t a full concordance either; it is somewhere in between. The inclusion of a concordance is an important one-many of the questions that you will encounter have to do with what the Bible teaches on a particular topic. The Concordance is the ideal tool for answering those questions.

What’s missing

There are no cross references or notes pages. I confess to being surprised at the lack of notes pages but not the lack of cross references. Cross references can be an unnecessary distraction in the text and do not always follow the flow of thought for the expositor.

Shold you buy it?

Yes. I cannot think of a single scenario where I would not recommend it. I would, actually, recommend that you get the Handbook and the Study Bible. There is a lttie overlap and the Handbook does have a little more ocntent than what the study Bible offers. As I said, the Study Bible contains the minimum you should know.

Overall Impression

It is everything you want in a study Bible and nothing you don’t. I recommend Halley’s Study Bible more than any other Bible that Zondervan offers.