No More Commentaries???

Michael Jensen, who blogs at Blogging Parson, a blog I enjoy reading, has a provocative post on the use of Biblical commentaries. His is a plea to biblical theologians to stop writing them, or at least reduce their size to less than 250 pages! He also asks pastors to stop buying them, instead opting for a few classics (i.e. Calvin, Barth, Augustine).
It’s an interesting post, but I’m not sure I agree with him. I get his point, and he may be going to extremes just to get the idea across, but are commentaries that useless?
I just completed my first semester of New Testament exegesis. We studied Paul’s epistle to the Philippians to great profit. We translated, parsed, diagrammed and gave exegetical notes on the text. I really enjoyed it and learned alot. One of the great helps in learning was Peter O’Brien’s excellent commentary on Philippians (NIGTC), which was our course text. I also used Moises Silva’s helpful little (under 250 pages) commentary. In the process I could see the tremendous value in having such men as my guide. Although I was dealing with the text myself, I had the benefit of them spurring me along, pointing me to interesting options and offering opinions on the text.
I do agree that we need to spend more time in the original text and in prayer, but should we sell all of our commentaries? I don’t think so. We should be careful in our choices, that’s why little books like the one by D. A. Carson on choosing commentaries is indispensable.
So, read Jensen’s thought provoking post and take to heart the criticism of over-reliance on commentaries, but let’s not throw them all out (even Doug Moo on Romans, whom Jensen doesn’t care for much!).


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3 responses to “No More Commentaries???

  1. Rogers Meredith

    Commentaries are important in that they help us avoid novel interpretations.

  2. Ian

    Unless the commentary is novel!

  3. Michael Dewalt

    hey, i have been reading your blog and like it extremely! i also was trying to find your email but could not do so, so please email me and i would like to talk to you about blogs! i maintain two of them as well and would like to talk to you about them.

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