After presenting the goals that the editor and authors aimed to accomplish with this series, giving my normal mindset as it pertains to the purchasing of commentaries and/or commentary sets, and then providing a brief overview of the BECNT Series in Part 1 of this review, I would now like to dig in more deeply as to the positives and negatives of the BECNT Series as a whole. I must freely admit that I have not read every commentary in this Series from beginning to end (which is not abnormal given the size and depth of this Series), but I have read enough of them over the last several weeks to have a good understanding as to whether the Series is accomplishing the goals set out for it by the editor and authors which is “…to provide, within the framework of informed evangelical thought, commentaries that blend scholarly depth with readability, exegetical detail with sensitivity to the whole, attention to critical problems with theological awareness.” Not only do the editors and authors wish to accomplish all of that in each volume in this Series, but they are also diligently striving to make this Series accessible to both the “motivated lay Christian” and the “scholar”. To say that those are lofty goals would be an understatement, but I think the BECNT Commentary Series accomplishes each of their stated goals quite well. Therefore, I would like to lay out a few things that I think the BECNT gets right and why I am so high on this series, and a few things I think they could do in order to make this series better. Click here to learn more about this great product.
Things Done Right
(1) Though the commentaries are adequate in size, they are not too verbose. Commentaries (like book reviews!) can be hindered by overly verbose musings about the historical context of the book, the endless delvings into the original languages and a thorough examination of every single use of that same word in the Bible, and an over reliance on the multitude of other commentaries that the authors of the BECNT read in preparation for writing their commentaries. The BECNT does a fantastic job of succinctly providing the proper historical context for each book of the Bible, dealing faithfully with the original languages, and trying to restrain itself from citing too many other commentaries so as to be a distraction with the countless footnotes at the bottom of each page. For example, Douglas Moo, in his commentary on Galatians, makes it clear that he only cites from “nine of the many commentaries on Galatians.” He goes on further to state that, “Interrupting my own argument about the meaning of the text with long lists of commentaries makes it difficult to follow what I am saying. Moreover, citing a large number of commentaries is usually not very helpful, since there is so much repetition among them.” (pg. xii, Galatians) However, before anyone thinks that Moo only read 9 commentaries on Galatians in preparation to writing his own commentary, that simply is not true. This actually leads me to my second point.
(2) Thorough “Works Cited” section in the back of each commentary that is easy to locate and navigate. This section is quite exhaustive and provides readers of the BECNT with an easy to use section that is filled with a myriad of other sources to read through if they would like to do a more exhaustive study of that specific book of the Bible. The section is clearly marked in each book with a wonderful Logos hyperlink that will take you straight to this section and shows readers exactly which books the authors of the commentaries read in preparation for their writing endeavors.
(3) Summary boxes in most of the volumes. The only exceptions I was able to find that did not include the passage summary boxes were the commentaries on Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1-3 John. However, each of the other volumes, as far as I could tell, contained wonderful passage summary boxes located at the beginning of each new chapter of the commentary. These passage boxes provide readers with wonderful starting points to help them grasp the context of what has happened prior to that chapter and what is going on in the passages of Scripture that the author is dealing with. I can’t say enough as to how much these sections are a benefit to me as a Sunday School teacher having to use curriculum that calls for me to jump into the middle of a book of the Bible without having taught on any previous verses/chapters of that book of the Bible. These passage summary boxes help me stay true to the historical and biblical context, and I hope that all future commentaries in this series require these boxes.
(4) Additional Notes sections. These sections are located at the end of each chapter of the commentary and tend to be more technical in nature. You can tell when a verse, or verses, of Scripture have an “Additional Note” on them when there is a half bracket located around the word(s) (eg. ⌜this day⌝ located in the commentary on Matthew 28:15). The notes in this section usually turn the readers attention to a more detailed grammatical look at a specific section of Scripture, or they cause readers to think about the textual variants of the verse(s) being discussed.
Things That Could Be Improved
(1) Make Summary Boxes mandatory in all future commentaries. I talked about this briefly above, but the value of these boxes cannot be overstated. The boxes provide readers with a quick summary that allows them to always have the proper context at the forefront of their minds.
(2) Summary and Contextualization boxes at the end of each chapter. This might not make sense for some of the smaller books yet to have a BECNT commentary written on them, but these boxes are wonderful helps at the end of section in Grant R. Osborne’s commentary on the book of Revelations. Therefore, I would love to see it utilized more going forward.
(3) Publish more BECNT Commentaries…ASAP! This really is one of the best commentary sets out there, and I thoroughly look forward to all the future books in this series.
BECNT Series in Logos Bible Software
In the past few months, I have made a concerted effort to make the majority of my commentary purchases in digital format to free up more shelf space in my garage. The fact that Logos offers such a high-tech, but fairly easy to use platform, to host my commentaries in has made the transition from physical copies to digital copies that much easier. The ability to highlight anywhere and everywhere I want in a given commentary, type out a note about the section I just highlighted, and be able to easily navigate back to both the highlight and note are wonderful beyond words. To top that off, these highlights and notes Sync across all the platforms that I use Logos on (iPad, Android Phone, Chromebook, and Desktop computer).
Also, the extensive use of hyperlinks in each of these commentaries makes for the comfortable ease of reading cited Bible passages and footnotes all without leaving the page in the commentary you are currently reading. However, given the extensive use of hyperlinks that Logos is known for I found it a little surprising that the half brackets that make it known to readers that there is a more detailed handling of the verse(s) in question in the Additional Notes section. My hope is that Logos will correct this seemingly small oversight in a future update to the BECNT.
When I think about the wonders of modern technology and the fact that I am able to carry around over 10,000 pages of BECNT Commentaries in my pocket on my Android Phone and access them whenever I so desire, I am somewhat awestruck. Logos Bible Software truly is a gift that keeps on giving, and is a technology that I plan to utilize to the glory of God for years to come.