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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Commentaries

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description of Commentaries

A Biblical Commentary is a book that provides an interpretive explanation of a Biblical book or books. Commentaries provide a detailed explanation of specific Biblical passages, an explanation of a Biblical book’s larger structure or argument, and typically engage with introductory matters such as authorship, audience, date of writing, purpose of writing, composition, etc.

Key Commentaries Series

  • Anchor Yale Bible (AYB).
  • Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms (BCOTWP).
  • Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT).
  • Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC) and Revised Expositor’s Bible Commentary (REBC).
  • Hermeneia (HERM).
  • International Critical Commentary (ICC).
  • IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNTC).
  • JPS Torah Commentary Series (JPSTBC).
  • New American Commentary (NAC).
  • New Century Bible Commentary (NCB).
  • New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT).
  • New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICNT).
  • New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC).
  • NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC).
  • Old Testament Library (OTL).
  • Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC).
  • Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC).
  • Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (TOTC).
  • Word Biblical Commentary (WBC).
  • Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary (WEC).
  • Zondervan Exegetical Commentary (ZEC).
  • Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (ZIBBC).

Tips for Selecting Commentaries

  • Note the type – Many types of commentaries exist, e.g., expositional, devotional, technical, etc. Therefore, one does well to know what kind of commentary for which he or she is looking. This involves knowing basic information about the various commentary series (below).
  • Note the series – Knowing the series of which a commentary is a part can tell you a lot about what the commentary will be like, e.g., theological persausion, quality, emphases, format, etc.
  • Note the author – When presented with an array of commentaries, knowing something about the available authors provides one with a good place to start.
  • Note the date – By offering some historical perspective, older commentaries possess a unique value. On the other hand, contemporary commentaries often make a practice of engaging with previously proposed interpretations. Thus, the newer commentaries carry a unique value as well.

Resources for Selecting Commentaries

  • Best Commentaries – A site dedicated to providing reviews and rankings for a variety of Biblical resources including commentaries. Offers basic information about each commentary, e.g., author, date, series, and type (technical, pastoral, devotional, Jewish, special).
  • Other seminaries’ recommended commentary lists.
  • Ask professors.

Commentary Sample

Romans by Douglas Moo in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996), pg. 748-749. * Click on photo for larger image.


 

* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to commentaries here.

 

 

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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Interlinears

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description of Interlinear

English interlinear Bibles present the Biblical text in its original language along with a more literal English translation immediately below each word. Some English interlinears are formatted reversely, i.e., they present an English translation with the corresponding original language immediately underneath.

Helpful Interlinears

Bible Hub’s online interlinear – This interlinear will prove especially helpful for those who do not know the Biblical languages because it provides “Strong’s numbers” above each word. Clicking on a “Strong’s number” provides one with helpful concordance and lexical information about that specific word (e.g., see רֵאשִׁית 7225).

Use of Interlinears

Interlinears are helpful tools for those who do not know the Biblical languages (or whose skills are rusty) but would like to involve the original languages in their studies.

For those who know the Biblical languages, interlinears are helpful when one would like to involve and interact with the Biblical languages in his or her study, but not to the extent of a raw exegesis of the original languages “from scratch.”

Interlinear Samples

The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, Vol. 1, edited by John R. Kohlenberger (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979), 50-51.

The NRSV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English with Interlinear Translation, edited by Alfred Marshall (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), 266-267. * Click on photo for larger image.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to Interlinears here.


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: English Translations

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description

English Bible translations are publications that seek to faithfully render the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek text of the Bible in the English language.

Prominent English Translations

  • New International Version (NIV).
  • Today’ New International Version (TNIV).
  • New Living Translation (NLT).
  • Revised Standard Version (RSV).
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
  • English Standard Bible (ESV).
  • American Standard Version (ASV).
  • New American Standard Bible (NASB).
  • New English Translation (NET).
  • King James Version (KJV).
  • New King James Version (NKVJ).
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).
  • New American Bible (NAB – Roman Catholic translation).
  • The Message.

Reason for Differences

Generally speaking, significant differences between translations are due to two reasons:

  1. Different base texts – Differences in translations are often due to the fact that different translations are often based on different source texts in the original languages. As such, these differences are not actually differences in translation but differences in what is being translated.
  2. Different translation philosophy – Other differences can often be explained by differences in translation philosophy and methodology.

Translation Approaches

Generally speaking, two approaches to translation exist with specific translations falling somewhere on the spectrum between the two poles.

  1. Formal equivalence – Commonly referred to as “literal” or “word for word” translation; seeks to retain a formal correspondance (in terms of vocabulary as well as grammar and syntax) between the original and receptor language as much as is possible in the translation process.
  2. Dynamic (or functional) equivalence – Commonly referred to as “thought for thought” translation; seeks to produce a clear and natural translation based on a functional meaning-based correspondance between the original and receptor language.

The following chart presents where prominent English translations roughly fall on this spectrum.

The above chart is taken from Fee, Gordon D., and Mark L. Strauss, How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), pp. 28.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to English translations here.


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Lexicons

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


 

Basic Description of Lexicon

A Biblical lexicon is a reference tool that provides meanings, semantic ranges, and significant uses of Biblical words in their original language. This data is organized according to an inventory of lexemes (i.e., a meaningful linguistic unit). Lexicons are particularly helpful in word studies.

TDOT & TDNT

Although not lexicons, these resources are primarily useful for conducting word studies. They provide background information and theological reflection on Biblical Hebrew and Greek words.

Lexicon Samples

HALOT by Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner (New York, NY: Brill Academic, 1994), pg. 185. * Click on photo for larger image.

BDAG by Walter Bauer and Frederick William Danker (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), pg. 610. * Click on photo for larger image.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to Lexicons here.


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Biblical Language Grammars

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description of Grammar

Biblical grammars provide grammatical and syntactical information on the Biblical languages. Not only do they serve as tools for learning the Biblical languages, but they also function as reference works for those engaging in exegesis of Biblical text in its original languages.

A Handbook to Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar by Page H. Kelley (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), 276-277.

Basics of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar by Daniel B. Wallace (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 180-181. * Click on photo for larger image.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to grammars here.


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Concordances

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description of Concordance

A Biblical concordance is a reference tool that provides an alphabetic listing of Biblical words along with their Biblical references. This allows one to study the various uses of words throughout scripture.

Some concordances are organized according to the original Biblical languages (e.g., Hebrew and Greek). Other concordances are organized according to receptor languages (e.g., English), although these often include information about the Greek and Hebrew that stands behind the translations.

Key English Concordance

Strong’s Concordance, produced by James Strong and colleagues, is the most popular and useful Biblical concordance. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible includes:

  • The standard concordance.
  • A concordance of articles, conjunctions, particles, prepositions and pronouns.
  • Topical index to the Bible.
  • Dictionaries of the Biblical languages.
  • Nave’s topical Bible reference system.
  • Other supplementary material.

Strong’s follows the English translation of King James Version.

Cover ArtStrong’s numbers” – Strong’s is famous for its numbering system. In Strong’s, each root word in the original Biblical languages is assigned a number (know as “Strong’s numbers”). These numbers are included alongside the English words listed in the concordance. In other words, each English listing in the concordance is supplied with a “Strong’s number” that corresponds to the original word from which the English was translated. These numbers serve the following functions:

  • Strong’s includes supplementary Hebrew and Greek dictionaries which are organized according to these “Strong’s numbers.” With the use of these dictionaries one is able to examine the basic meaning of words in their original languages.
  • One can examine the usage of Biblical words in the original languages by conducting searches according to “Strong’s numbers.” Such searches can be performed by any Hebrew and Greek concordances that include “Strong’s numbers” (e.g., The New Englishman’s Concordance [HebrewGreek]) or various online tools (such as this one).

Thus, although its usefulness is obviously limited (e.g., definitions of Hebrew and Greek words are necessarily simplistic and limited), Strong’s is a great word study tool for those who do not know the original Biblical languages.

Greek and Hebrew Concordances

Hebrew and Greek concordances are based on the original languages and also list occurrences (with some surrounding context) in these original languages.

Hebrew-English and Greek-English concordances are based on the original languages but list occurrences (with some surrounding context) in English.

A New Concordance of the Bible: Thesaurus of the Language of the Bible, Hebrew and Aramaic Roots, Words, Proper Names, Phrases and Synonyms – Abraham Even-Shoshan

Electronic Concordances

Online: Several Bible study websites allow one to quickly and easily search the Bible for specific words or phrases. BibleGateway has over 180 translations in over 70 languages (including the original Biblical languages).

Bible software: Various Bible softwares (e.g., BibleWorks, Logos, Accordance) allow one to search various for specific words or phrases in either the original languages or various translations. Select Rolfing Library computers are programmed with BibleWorks.

Concordance Samples

Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong, John R. Kohlenberger, and James A. Swanson (Grand Rapid, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 871.

Concordance to the Greek New Testament by William Fiddian Moulton, Alfred Shenington Geden, and Harold Keeling Moulton (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2002), 432-433.

BibleWorks Software. * Click on photos for larger image.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to concordances here.


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Key Bible and Theological Reference Tools: Bible Introductions

This post is part of a series entitled Key Bible and Theological Reference ToolsThis series seeks to provide one with an introduction to some key Biblical and theological reference tools. In this series one will find basic explanations, significant examples, and other information about these reference tools.


Basic Description of Introductions

An introduction (note: this guide is specifically referring to introductions to Biblical corpuses) is a reference work that provides introductory information on a given Biblical corpus. This material often includes helpful information regarding specific Biblical books (e.g., surveys, outlines, background information, presentations of key theological themes, discussions on authorship and dating issues, etc.) as well as information on broader topics (e.g., Old Testament canonical development, the relationship of the four gospels, etc.).

Key Introductions

Introduction Sample

An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A. Carson and Douglas Moo (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 308-309. * Click photo for larger image.


* This post’s information can be found within Rolfing Library’s research guides. See the guide to introductions here.