10 Best Commentary Sets For Bible College And Seminary Students

I recently posted about the 5 Best Commentary Sets for Sunday School Teachers. In this post, I want to continue this series by introducing you to what I believe are 10 indispensable Bible Commentary Sets for Bible College and Seminary Students. Each of these commentaries are more academic-oriented than those listed in my previous posts.  With that being said, let's look at these commentary sets.

1. New International Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Combining superior scholarship, an evangelical view of Scripture, and concern for the life of faith today, this comprehensive, accessible commentary series is one of the most highly regarded resources of current scholarship. Prepared by world-renowned authorities, the NICOT and NICNT series reflects exacting study of the original languages and offers careful exegesis with preachers' and teachers' spiritual concerns in mind.

This series consists of 46 volumes, covering every book of the Bible except Exodus, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Esther, Lamentations, Daniel, 2 Peter, and Jude, which currently do not have a commentary available for them.


The Word Biblical Commentary series is a technical, exegetical, and academic commentary. Produced for pastors and scholars trained in the original languages and in advanced exegetical skill, this commentary series has been regarded as a cutting edge resource for many years. All technical details are reviewed and extensive bibliographies provided in each volume.

This series is extremely well regarded in Academic circles and is written by an ecumenical assortment of scholars.

The Word Biblical Commentary series is one of my go-to resources when I am doing research for a paper or preparing for a sermon. It will definitely be useful to you as you study God's Word in an academic setting.

3. The Expositor's Bible Commentary

The Expositor's Bible Commentary series is perhaps one of the most well-rounded series of commentaries. What I mean by this is that, while the authors go in-depth with the text and often discuss more technical issues, the commentary is still very accessible to the average person. I have used it for my undergrad degree, and plan to continue to use it in Seminary. I am sure that these volumes will serve you as well as they have served me.

The New International Greek Testament Commentary series is established on the presupposition that the theological character of the New Testament documents calls for exegesis that is sensitive to theological themes as well as to the details of the historical, linguistic, and textual context. Such thorough exegetical work lies at the heart of these volumes, which contain detailed verse-by-verse commentary preceded by general comments on each section and subsection of the text.

An important aim of the NIGTC authors is to interact with the wealth of significant New Testament research published in recent articles and monographs. In this connection the authors make their own scholarly contributions to the ongoing study of the biblical text.

The text on which these commentaries are based is the UBS Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt Aland et al. While engaging the major questions of text and interpretation at a scholarly level, the authors keep in mind the needs of the beginning student of Greek as well as the pastor or layperson who may have studied the language at some time but does not now use it on a regular basis. At least basic knowledge of Greek is essential to properly utilize these commentaries.

Engaging, perceptive, and academically thorough, the New Beacon Bible Commentary will expand your understanding and deepen your appreciation of the meaning and message of each book of the Bible.

Written from the Wesleyan theological perspective, this indispensable commentary provides pastors, professional scholars, teachers, and Bible students with a critical, relevant, and inspiring interpretation of the Word of God in the 21st century.

This is perhaps my favorite commentary set. It is technical, but this information is not too difficult to grasp. Furthermore, each commentary is neatly organized and information is easy to find. If you pick no other commentary on this list, pick this one!

The Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [BECNT] is an exegetical commentary written from a broad evangelical perspective for students, pastors, and scholars. Its user-friendly design includes shaded chapter introductions which summarize key themes and unpack each individual pericope within the given book. Chapter outlines and overviews allow easy entry into the discussion while aiding review, comprehension, and recall.

The BECNT series seeks to provide a paragraph-by-paragraph exegetical commentary on the Greek New Testament so as to illuminate meaning pericope-by-pericope. To this end, the series extrapolates meaning from the text by examining the linguistic, literary, historical, and social issues pertinent to the original authors and audience. Each volume addresses and seeks to contribute to contemporary scholarship yet never loses focus of the text.

7. The Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series

The Socio-Rhetorical Commentary series is the project of Ben Witherington III of Asbury Theological Seminary. Witherington wrote the majority of the commentaries in the series, although others, such as Craig Keener, have contributed. The commentaries themselves come from an Arminian perspective, and are therefore great commentaries for seminaries that hold that perspective. 

Each commentary is packed with information, which is one major reason why this series will be beneficial to you. The down side is that the commentaries only cover the New Testament. If you are looking for an Old Testament commentary, you won't find it here.

8. Sacra Pagina New Testament Commentary

Offering a blend of critical analysis and theological insight, this outstanding New Testament commentary written by an internationally renowned team of Catholic scholars is highly regarded across denominational lines. Educators, clergy, and laypeople will appreciate its readable style as well as its depth, acumen, and clarity. Contributors include Raymond Collins, Luke Timothy Johnson, and Bonnie Thurston. If you are not Catholic, the idea of using a Catholic commentary may not appeal to you. However, in my personal experience, these commentaries are very well put together and will be a great addition to any seminarian's library.

9. Pillar New Testament Commentaries

 The Pillar New Testament Commentary is specifically designed for those students of Scripture who believe that the study of the text is critical for understanding the Bible correctly. Therefore, this series is an exegetical commentary which, though oriented to the NIV, adjudicates all questions on the basis of the Greek text. Historical and social data attendant to the text round out each volume. This is an extremely accessible and readable resource for students and pastors.

The volumes in Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible from Westminster John Knox Press offer a fresh and invigorating approach to all the books of the Bible. Building on a wide range of sources from biblical studies, the history of theology, the church's liturgical and musical traditions, contemporary culture, and the Christian tradition, noted scholars focus less on traditional historical and literary angles in favor of a theologically focused commentary that considers the contemporary relevance of the texts. This series is an invaluable resource for those who want to probe beyond the backgrounds and words of biblical texts to their deep theological and ethical meanings for the church today.

In addition to these, you may want to consider picking up tradition-specific commentaries. For example, if you are attending a seminary in the Reformed tradition, you may want to pick up a copy of John Calvin's commentaries. Likewise, if you are Wesleyan, you may want to pick up a copy of Wesley's notes on the Bible or Adam Clarke's commentary on the Bible.

If your Bible College or Seminary requires you to have a particular commentary not mentioned here, you can use our free search tool to find the commentary that you are looking for from our friends at Christian Book Distributors.

Do you agree with this list? Which of these commentaries did you find most helpful? Let us know in the comments below!


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