Posted On May 29, 2014

“The chief concern of the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (to be known as BECNT) 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.  We hope thereby to attract the interest of a fairly wide audience, from the scholar who is looking for a thoughtful and independent examination of the text to the motivated lay Christian who craves a solid but accessible exposition.” Moises Silva [General Editor]

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One of the most important things I have learned from years of reading a wide variety of commentaries is that it is in the best interest of the reader to always find out the main goal(s) which the authors/editors of the commentary series aim to accomplish in the minds/hearts of their anticipated audience.  Too often I have bought a commentary that had a beautiful cover (I am a sucker for a good graphic design on a book cover), and which was written by an author that I trust doctrinally, only to find myself severely disappointed with the content of the book.  However, it was usually not the authors/editors fault that I was disappointed in the commentary because the content was theologically sound.  However, I hadn’t taken the time to look at the aim of the commentary series as a whole, so I expected it to satisfy one need when in fact it was written to meet another need entirely.  I find this to be especially true for those of us who have had limited to no exposure with the original languages.  As Moises Silva labeled me in the Introduction, I am just a “motivated lay Christian” who loves the Word and owns a pretty extensive library to help me dive deeper into the Word.  I buy a wide range of commentaries in order to generate deeper thoughts, confirm what I understand the text to be saying, and/or provide clarity concerning passages of Scripture that I might be struggling to comprehend in light of their verse/chapter/book context.  The BECNT series accomplishes all three of these tasks in a way that is faithful to the text and, therefore, honoring to our Lord.

Second of all, I must confess that I rarely ever buy complete commentary sets at any one given time (the main exception being the full sets that came with the purchase of my Logos Diamond Base Package).  My normal purchasing history has been to only purchase a few commentaries out of a given set which were written by the authors I am familiar with and trust have a firm theological foundation. Honestly, there are pros and cons with this approach. The pros are that my library is full of theologically solid commentaries that are more reformed in their interpretation of the Word.  The cons of this approach are that I am rarely challenged to think outside of my, for lack of better terms, reformed “bubble”.  The only exceptions that I tend to make in straying from the norm of buying only individual volumes from a commentary set rather than the set as a whole are: (1) I come across a really good deal that I just can’t pass up; or (2) I see the majority of authors in the set that I know are theologically sound, and, even though I might not recognize the other authors, I give the benefit of the doubt to the set for the sake of the authors I know and trust.  The BECNT fulfilled both of those requirements being that the set was too good of a deal to pass up, and the authors I recognized and respected (Thomas Schreiner, Darrell Bock, Douglas Moo, Andreas Kostenberger, and Grant R. Osborne) caused me to get out of my normal commentary comfort zone and read the other authors I did not know much about.

Before I get into what I like and dislike about the BECNT in part two, let me post a list of the commentaries currently available in this set, the author of the commentary, year published, and how many pages in length the commentary is (a more detailed breakdown can be found on Logos’ website here):

  • Matthew by David L. Turner (2008 – 848 pgs)
  • Mark by Robert H. Stein (2008 – 864 pgs)
  • John by Andreas Köstenberger (2004 – 720 pgs)
  • Acts by Darrell L. Bock (2007 – 880 pgs)
  • Romans by Thomas R. Schreiner (1998 – 944 pgs)
  • Galatians by Douglas J. Moo (2013 – 544 pgs)
  • Ephesians by Frank Thielman (2010 – 544 pgs)
  • James by Dan G. McCartney (2009 – 368 pgs)
  • 1 Peter by Karen H. Jobes (2005 – 384 pgs)
  • 1–3 John by Robert W. Yarbrough (2008 – 464 pgs)

*1 – 2 Thessalonians  by Jeffrey A. D. Weima (Scheduled to be published in Nov 2014 – 752 pgs)*

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