What Is the Best Commentary?

I received a phone call from a pastor in Florida a few weeks back who was going to be speaking in his church from the book of Ephesians. He wanted my opinion as to what I considered to be the best commentary on the epistle. I quickly told him to look at Harold Hoehner’s Ephesians, published by Baker, and Peter O’Brien’s Letter to the Ephesians, published by Eerdmans.

This is a question that we often get at the seminary: “What is the best commentary on ______? In order to help students, pastors, and others answer this question, a number of years ago we created what we call the Basic Library Booklist. You can find a copy here. The Booklist has been specifically designed to answer the question of which books are the best on a particular book of the Bible or theological subject. In the case of commentaries, best means those that are the most helpful in exegesis and exposition, as well as understanding the overall argument of a book. The books are listed in order of importance. The first book listed is the one that should probably be purchased first, though it is doubtful that one commentary would be sufficient for adequate sermon preparation.

Besides commentaries the Booklist also rates books in systematic theology, historical theology, and practical theology. Check out the Booklist and let us know what you think.

This entry was posted in Exposition and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 thoughts on “What Is the Best Commentary?

  1. Dan Phillips says:

    If I may make a self-serving suggestion, I commend this book for consideration to whoever picks the OT wisdom/poetry recommendations.

  2. Bill Combs says:

    Thanks, Dan. Will pass your suggestion on.

  3. Bob McCabe says:

    Thanks for your recommendation, Dan.

    I picked up your commentary about a week ago. Though I have not critically interacted with it, I have gone through it and think your selective exposition has value for an evangelical audience. When I go through Proverbs in my Old Testament Poetic Books class this semester, I plan to recommend this to my students.

  4. Dan Phillips says:

    Thanks, Prof. McCabe! That’s kind of you, and very encouraging to hear.

    My specific hope is that the treatment of interpretation and application, the impact of authorship, and maybe even the appendix on 22:6 will be useful to students and their ministries.

  5. Bob McCabe says:


    Your 25 to 30 page discussion of Proverbs 22:6 in your appendix is helpful. You nicely lay out the issues. Though I lean to a modification of what you call the majority view, I have not fully made up my mind. Your discussion convinced me that I need to look into this more. I agree that our students as well as others should read your clear discussion.

  6. Donn Heinrich says:

    Thank you for keeping the list current. I always check the list first before investing.

    I have also benefited from Carson’s Commentary Survey and Custer’s Tools. bestcommentaries.com is enjoyable to visit and makes purchasing a little quicker with the links. http://www.ligonier.org/blog/top-commentaries-on-every-book-of-the-bible/ has some benefit. It is most helpful when all these lists overlap and agree on the best commentaries.