I love books which talk about books. In Essential Bible Study Tools for Ministry David R. Bauer offers an extensive bibliography of resources covering a wide range of subjects. It is divided into four parts: The whole Bible, Old Testament, Early Judaism, and New Testament. Each part is broken down into subcategories. For example under the whole Bible there is periodicals, history of the English Bible, Bible atlases, topical concordances, Bible commentaries: one-volume, Bible commentaries: multivolume, and Bible commentaries: series. Each book of the Bible is covered offering a section of “highly recommended” and “significant others.” Each of the books in the “highly recommended” section is given an extended annotation. Bauer recognizes the importance of listening to theological traditions that differ from the Wesleyan position and so includes resources from a variety of theological perspectives. He does, however, admit that he gives “special consideration” to “evangelical Wesleyan scholarship.” (xii)
The volume is also surprising current as I noted entries for Craig Keener’s recent commentaries on Acts. Of the first two volumes he writes: “This immense commentary is a model of methodological clarity and deep understanding of the world out of which the book of Acts emerges.” (330) I did not a few items where the information is out of date. For example, The Gospel of John commentary by Craig Keener is featured as a Hendrickson title. It now belongs to Baker Academic. The annotations are extremely helpful often noting the scholar’s theological perspective (evangelical, Catholic, Wesleyan) along with the emphasis and distinctives of their works. Here’s just a taste of a few of them.
Job. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms by Tremper Longman III. (Baker Academic) “Eminently accessible commentary written by a seasoned OT scholar primarily for ministers and seminary students. Draws out the theological significance of the text both in comments and in ‘Theological Implications’ that follow the comments on each passage. Of special value are the forty-four ‘reflective essays’ that discuss in some detail the major themes that run through the speeches in Job.” (151)
The Epistle to the Romans by Douglas Moo (Eerdmans) “A detailed commentary from a leading American evangelical scholar. a fair and balanced commentary that is a points quite independent from Moo’s Reformed tradition, although his manner of framing issues and his conclusions generally reflect a traditional Protestant (and more specifically Reformed) perspective. Based on the English text, but gives extensive attention to the Greek. Interacts extensively with the history of interpretation, and vigorously challenges some of the new scholarly perspectives on Paul. Attends seriously to ways in which practical issues facing the Roman Christians affected the shape of Paul’s theological arguments. Considers both the meaning for the original readers and the significance for contemporary Christians.” (342)
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, and Roland E. Murphy (Prentice-Hall) “The best single-volume commentary available from the Roman Catholic tradition, with articles written by leading Roman Catholic scholars. Includes introductory topical articles dealing with background issues. Interpretations employ critical approaches, especially source, form, redaction, and textual criticism, and give attention to the range of interpretations among Roman Catholic scholars. More technical and with less emphasis on theology and application than is the case with most single-volume commentaries, but the consistently high quality of the scholarship makes this a most impressive and, in respect to critical and historical issues, helpful volume.” (48)
Bauer recognizes that any such listing “is a matter of individual judgment; no two scholars would agree on selection.” (xi) His list is intended to be “a place to start”. (xi) This will be a handy resource for students building a library or pastors considering adding important resources to their existing library. Having spent only a couple of hours in it I’m already planning on getting a copy for myself.
David Bauer is the Ralph W. Beeson Professor of Inductive Biblical Studies and Dean of the School of Biblical Interpretation. He has served on Asbury Theological Seminary’s faculty since 1984.
Essential Bible Study Tools for Ministry is a paperback with 410 pages and sells for $45.99.