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The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary Hardcover – March 1, 2012
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From the Back Cover
Comprehensive, accessible, and fully illustrated--this one-volume commentary on the Bible is a must-have resource.
You want a deeper understanding of the Scriptures, but the notes in your study Bible don't give you enough depth or insight. This commentary was created with you in mind.
The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary is a nontechnical, section-by-section commentary on the whole Bible that provides reliable and readable interpretations of the Scriptures from forty-three leading evangelical scholars. A complete revision of the well-known Baker Commentary on the Bible, this updated resource features new articles and vibrant full-color images on more than 1,600 pages, complete with photos, maps, and timelines to illustrate the text.
This information-packed commentary will help you gain a deeper understanding of the Bible in your own personal study or in preparation for teaching. It tackles problematic questions, calls attention to the spiritual and personal aspects of the biblical message, and brings out important points of biblical theology, making it invaluable to anyone seeking to get the most out of their Bible study.
Gary M. Burge (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. His published works include The New Testament in Antiquity; The Bible and the Land; Jesus, the Middle Eastern Storyteller; Encounters with Jesus; Jesus and the Land; the NIV Application Commentary on the Letters of John; and the NIV Application Commentary on the Gospel of John.
Andrew E. Hill (PhD, University of Michigan) is professor of Old Testament studies at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the coauthor of A Survey of the Old Testament and the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary on the Minor Prophets and is the author of the Anchor Bible Commentary: Malachi and the NIV Application Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles.
About the Author
Gary M. Burge (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. His published works include The New Testament in Antiquity: A Textbook for Students; The Bible and the Land; Jesus, the Middle Eastern Storyteller; Encounters with Jesus; Jesus and the Land; the NIV Application Commentary on the Letters of John; and the NIV Application Commentary on the Gospel of John.
Andrew E. Hill (PhD, University of Michigan) is professor of Old Testament studies at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the coauthor of A Survey of the Old Testament and the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary on the Minor Prophets, and is the author of the Anchor Bible Commentary: Malachi and the NIV Application Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles.
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I am with the other reviewers who give this volume 4 or 5 stars. Well deserving. You will notice that the few 1 star ratings (two at the time of this writing) are for the Kindle (text-only) edition. More about the Kindle version below.
It is hard for me to imagine any evangelical Christian being less than happy with this one volume commentary. Examples?
It is hard not to begin with noted evangelical scholar, Victor Hamilton, who does Genesis in this commentary. While this shortened commentary on Genesis can't compare to his full-meal-deal commentary, it gives the teacher/preacher sound insights in quick order. (Some think Genesis 1 isn't given enough space... of course this is true... but it is not without good insights). Look at Noah's story... if this section doesn't shine new light on what his happening, then you probably aren't even searching for a one volume commentary. Great insights that come from the OT Hebrew text, without giving us the Hebrew, of course (Rain, rain, Dry, dry, etc, etc). I also thought the Hagar story was eye opening. Why does the Egyptian slave Hagar get used in this way. Why does Sarai dismiss her? Does Abram's response tell us anything? How does God first reveal himself (to Hagar) differently than before. What is the result? Good stuff here.
Roy Gane continues this excellence in his short commentary on Leviticus. Gane ably explains the sacrifices, yet also draws illustrative parallels missing on most commentaries this side. Golden nuggets. Want to know why separation and holiness is so tied together? Gane gives good insights.
Kaiser handles Deuteronomy with as much skill as you would imagine from this renowned theologian. Though very short, his Deuteronmy commentary is helpful in tracing the book's argument and flow. Gregory Wong comes next with a wonderful commentaries on Joshua and Judges. Let's look at Judges... a book most short commentaries gloss over (besides pointing out "everyone did right in their own eyes.") Turn to the greatly disturbing story of the Levite and the Concubine and you will see rich detail of moral failure and triumph in this horrid story of the cut up concubine. Israel is at a low point, yet most commentaries miss most of what is happening here. Not Wong. Irony is not lost when the Levite priest brings his concubine along, only to treat her as so much carrion to throw her to the "dogs" so to speak. Then his supposed outrage brings about a war, crazy oaths, and more genocide.. all from the Levites incredibly calloused life that is no different than the nation. If you can't preach/teach from this, something is amiss. Ruth: though Petter seems to side with those who don't see Naomi as especially out-of-step, still gives good insights into the ironic switches within the book. Obadiah (Hill) is excellent. And, many many others.
What of New Testament? The Gospels are well handled, but I liked Luke (Schriener) and John (Burge) best. I can tell you that if you want a quick understanding of John's gospel, there may be none better than Burge's treatment here... it will force your (by your own interest) to pick up his full commentary. You have been warned. Burge is a gifted author and a Johhanian scholar with insights that others seem to gloss over.
Romans? Come on. You can't cover Romans (something that full volumes often struggle with) in a short commentary and have anything of value! But, my initial thought here, was wrong. Schnable gives excellent insights in a short commentary. See especially his careful work through Romans 6, 7, and 8. Excellent insight in a short commentary.
Any clunkers? Gosh, I don't know. :) I think that Moo's Book of James is very tough to follow... not to mention that he seems to give a differing answer to faith-works in his full commentary than he does here. Or, I am just not following his argument well. I don't know. I think it is confusing. He seems to be trying to maintain a distinction that most believers wouldn't know what to do with. I think that James answers his own dilemma by showing us he is talking about the faith that Christians demonstrate on a daily basis (taking care of the needy, etc), rather than saving faith of the Gospel message that Paul is talking about. But, I am in the minority on that one, so perhaps you will understand and cherish Moo's James commentary. In addition, I think that Anderson's First John is tough to understand if you don't already know the categories of thought and discussion in First John. He assumes we know all the various positions of the letter and writes in short-hand for those that know distinctions (like Gnosticism, Docetists, ditheism, Jamnian blessing, Birkat ha-Minim, the Nike victory of Trajan dynasty) seems better suited to something that author could more fully explain.
Overall: I think it is unfair to fault it for shortness. I think you have to ask, for a short commentary, how does it do? And there, I have to say 5 stars. Sure it is not detailed, but it is much more detailed than many other one volume commentaries. If I were to own 3 one (or two) volume Bible Commentaries, they would be 1) Bible Knowledge Commentary (two volume), 2) Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, and 3) the New Bible Commentary.
Kindle and Mobile version: I found this print book pretty inexpensively, so I purchased it in hardback form (not the Kindle version). That was a good decision for me, for I benefit from the added charts, maps, and graphics. Still, I may get the text only Kindle version for when I am on the road. If I don't get the inexpensive Kindle version, then I will likely get the Logos version which has both the TEXT and the ILLUSTRATIONS. Both are mobile.
I would add this: The illustrations are often pictures of areas or items. That is helpful and engaging, but nothing that I would miss-out on in the text only Kindle version to use "on the road". The charts, tables, and maps however would be a loss if the user didn't also have other study aids available with this information....or also have the print addition.
I used the "real" Baker Illustrated Commentary (the heavy hardcover edition) in graduate school/seminary, and found it invaluable for explaining the wider context of Scripture passages, the cultural context, the geographical/geopolitical setting, etc. This text-only edition is somewhat lacking, particularly because it doesn't have the maps or timelines (which I found quite helpful). But it is the text itself which is the meat of this book, and the complete text is here in the Kindle text-only edition.
I've played around with it on my Kindle iPhone app, Kindle Fire, and Kindle Cloud Reader, and it definitely does better on the larger screens of the Fire and Cloud Reader. It's okay on the iPhone app, but due to the large size of the book (44,100 locations), it's much harder to navigate on the iPhone app.
There is no index; you'll have to use the Table of Content to navigate around the commentary. There is a link in the Table of Contents to each book of the Bible. It would have been nice to have sub-links for each chapter, especially for the longer books, like Psalms. If I want to read the section in the commentary on Psalm 149 (the second to last chapter), then I have to go the ToC for Psalms and scroll aaallllll the way through to nearly the end (or, the faster way is to go to the ToC for Proverbs, the scroll backwards to Psalm 149).
This is a commentary, which means that it goes in parallel with the Bible -- passage by passage. It is best read in conjunction with a Bible.
There is an overall introduction to both the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as section introductions for each of the major types of writings (Pentateuch, Historical Writings, Poetry, Prophecy, Gospels, Letters), and also a section on the inter-testamental period. At the beginning of each book is an Introduction section, going over Authorship, Structure and Content, and the book's Outline. The Commentary that follows then uses the Outline's format (1A, 2B, etc.). In addition, use of bold, italics, and different font colors help set off different sections.
Thus far, I have not found any places where the text references any of the not-included illustrations. That is, the text in this text-only Kindle edition does stand alone. I obviously have not read the entire commentary, but I have spot-checked several geography-heavy passages where I would expect there would be many maps in the illustrated edition, and have not found any references to any outside-of-the-text images/maps/etc.
So, all-in-all, this text-only Kindle edition is still worth getting, even though it is text-only. You do lose the value of the illustrations, but the Baker commentary is still a really good commentary on its own, illustrations or no illustrations. The maps, timelines, etc., definitely enhance the text, and if you have the 1) money and 2) bookshelf space, I definitely recommend getting the "real" hardcover illustrated edition. But, this text-only Kindle edition is certainly good on it's own.
I recommend it highly as a good tool to studying the Bible.