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The Moody Bible Commentary Hardcover – February 1, 2014
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Like unabridged dictionaries, there are commentaries that try to do too much that they become weighty, bulky, and come in multiple volumes that occupy space in our bookshelves. Then there are those like abridged dictionaries that are conveniently packaged in a smaller footprint but lack the depth and scope of coverage we need. What if we can have both in a single volume? Not many commentaries can do that. This new commentary by the faculty of Moody Bible Institute is a worthy addition to this category of good single volume commentaries. Called one of the "most ambitious projects ever undertaken" by the Moody Bible Institute, it aims to provide us with a concise, insightful, and informative enough for the general reader. With thirty contributors, all the 66 books of the Bible are covered with the hope that readers will adopt five basic criteria for understanding.
Diligence in studying the Scriptures themselves Recognize that time is needed, so be patient Empowerment for understanding comes from the Holy Spirit Obedience is key to understanding Always room to learn
What's Unique about this Commentary? It is a work done by MBI which takes pride in their slogan: "The Name You Can Trust." Making it understandable is foremost in the minds of the authors. It spends time working with difficult verses, making use of the literal, conservative, and consistent approach. It believes that the Old Testament points to Jesus. While the contributors base their commentary on the original languages, they also use the NASB English translation as the main English translation.
I like the way the commentators weave in both Old and New Testament references to engage a whole Bible perspective. For example, in Genesis 3:1-6, the commentators do not simply deal with the sin of Adam and Eve. They describe the lead-up to the sin, and teaches us how often we can commit similar follies in our modern times. We get mini-sermons as well, seeing direct applications apart from the commentary on the ancient texts. Going through verse by verse at times, the commentary explains the texts, highlights some of the original languages' nuances, and also connects the theme to other passages in the Bible. Where appropriate, there are extended commentaries on applications that modern readers will appreciate. Issues such as learning to apply timeless principles from Old Testament laws and regulations; contrasting the consequences of godlessness versus the promises of godliness; highlighting devotional material from the Psalms; wisdom from Proverbs with scholarship material from other commentaries apart from their own; a structural framework on understanding the Song of Solomon with an explanation of the different interpretative methods; and many more, making the commentary a very integrated one that aims to bring the central teachings across.
The New Testament is also marked with excellent scholarship, applying and informing readers about the different schools of interpretation such as source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, and other ways of interpreting the gospels. Each book begins with some explanation on authorship, approximate dates, who the intended audiences are, the purpose of the book, and how the book contributes to the overall thrust of the Bible. The bibliography at the end of each book is a valuable resource to use. This part alone makes this commentary an excellent primer to begin any in-depth studies of each book.
This is one of the must-haves for any preacher or pastor, student or teacher of the Word. Sometimes, there are commentaries that are heavy on the technical details but light on the practical applications. Others are too focused on the contemporary and lacks the heavy-lifting needed to be able to see the original texts for what they are. Creating a balance is also not an easy task especially when multiple contributors are involved. On top of that, the books of the Bible are of different genre and commentary will have to be adapted according to the way and purposes the book are written. That is why it is very difficult to apply any one standard commentary for all the books. Perhaps, readers can learn to take a step back and not allow structures and frameworks to become overly distracting. Read the Bible for what it is saying. Take time to pray and seek God for illumination and discernment about the texts. Study the texts for ourselves. Then use this commentary to shed more light on the texts. We need to agree with what the contributors are saying, but we can accept that there is another way to look at the texts. After all, students of the Bible learn best not by becoming dogmatic over their own philosophy but to be humble to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit can use anyone to teach us, including using this excellent 1-volume commentary on the Bible.
One more thing. As with the use of commentaries, even though there is an increasing use of electronic references, I feel that having a printed commentary is valuable too. Just to have the look and feel of a book opened in front of us enables us to study the Bible without becoming too easily distracted by pop up windows, the Internet, social media prompts, and other electronic beeps.
This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
Conrade YapRating: 5 out of 5 stars
The Moody Bible Commentary, a comprehensive one-volume commentary of the whole Bible, provides an objective look at the historical and cultural backgrounds of each book and help readers interpret Scripture in light of Scripture. Editors Dr. Michael Rydelnik and Dr. Michael Vanlaningham deliver a reliable and well-rounded resourcefor students of the Bible.
While it’s clear that the writers are experts on their subjects, they write in a way that, while academic, is clearly understandable for any reader. The Moody Bible Commentary includes an outline of each book of the Bible, an introduction to each book, and then a more in-depth commentary following the outline given.
Honestly, I didn’t read the entire commentary. The ebook review copy I received boasted 4,050 pages! But I flipped through every page and found the layout and font to be pleasing to the eye, not overly tiring like some commentaries. I did read chapters on some of my favorite books, like Deuteronomy, Ruth, John, Romans, Titus, and James. I also read the commentary on some difficult passages. I appreciated that the editors and authors seemed to treat things fairly, often showing varying viewpoints, but tempering it with logical explanations of which views are most plausible.
I absolutely loved the charts, maps and illustrations throughout the book. For visual learners, they add so much to the meaning of various Scriptures. For example, in the chapter on the book of Leviticus, one chart outlines “The Laws of Sacrifice,” while an illustration of the Tabernacle makes the tent of meeting come alive. I also enjoyed how the editors placed an emphasis on reading the Old Testament through New Testament lenses as they helped readers see types of Christ throughout the Old Testament and even compared “The High Priests’ Ministries and the Great High Priest’s Ministry” in one chart. For those of us who are historically challenged, charts of the Kings of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and the Kings of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) help keep things in perspective. In the New Testament, charts help readers grasp “The Eight Signs in John” as well as “Jesus’ Seven I Am Claims.” And, readers come to a clearer understanding of the book of James with the chart outlining “Parallels Between James and the Sermon on the Mount.” Of course The Moody Bible Commentary wouldn’t be complete without the Scripture index and subject index at the end, which help readers easily navigate the extensive volume.
If you are looking for a one-volume commentary on the entire Bible, The Moody Bible Commentary fits the bill. It’s reliable and academic, yet accessible to anyone. I highly recommend it for serious students of the Bible. It’s got all you need—outlines, historical backgrounds, objective explanations, and charts, maps and illustrations that aid in clarifying meaning. This is one reference book you’ll rely on time and again as you dig deeper into God’s Word.
Reviewed by Laura Langley Net Galley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This is a really helpful reference book for Bible study. It has a commentary on specific verses as well as broader themes. It also makes connections with other Biblical references. It was a little bulky to manage electronically since it is so much information.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Melissa Hinnen, Net Galley
From the Back Cover
Now you can study the Bible with the faculty of Moody Bible Institute!
Imagine having a team of 30 Moody Bible Institute professors helping you study the Bible. Now you can—with this in-depth, user-friendly one-volume commentary.
With more than 2,000 pages and over 1.5 million words, TheMoody Bible Commentary is a one-of-a-kind, comprehensive Bible resource. Special features include:
- Helpful introductions to each book of the Bible, giving information about the authors, their audience, and historical background.
- Outlines that show organization and structure at a glance.
- Clear discussions that shed light on difficult and debated passages, show how the Bible speaks to current issues in our culture, and highlight how the Old Testament predicts the Messiah.
- Careful scholarship based in the original languages and offering a consistent method of interpretation.
- Plus:Charts that clearly explain biblical concepts, maps that provide an overview of Bible lands and cities, Scripture and subject indexes that make it easy to locate themes and topics.
Use TheMoody Bible Commentary to help you know God’s Word and apply it in your daily life.
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Like the MBC, many of the commentators below are associated with Dallas Theological Seminary.
Believer's Bible Commentary (BBC) by William MacDonald (more devotional, NKJV)
The Bible Knowledge Commentary (BKC) by Walvoord and Zuck (more scholarly, NIV)
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary (NNIBC) by Radmacher, Allen & House (like Nelson's NKJV Study Bible)
Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable (FREE online, more comprehensive, NASB)
*** The MBC includes 80 black and white illustrations. Compare that to the BBC at 77, the BKC at 167, and about 180 for NNIBC. So the MBC and BBC are almost equal, but the BKC and NNIBC have over twice as many diagrams.
Unlike the competition, the MBC has Scriptural and topical indexes. But the topical index omits many entries such as Newell, Constable, chiasm (p 57), documentary hypothesis (p 25), Yahweh, dispensation (Eph. 3:2) and higher criticism (p 1450). The entry "sons of God, before flood" does not include the parallel passages of Job, Peter and Jude.
Based on a similar work by Dallas Theological Seminary staff, the 2 volume Bible Knowledge Commentary, I had great expectations for this commentary by Moody's faculty. However for teaching and research, I have been disappointed in it's superficial and spotty coverage. The MBC also fails to address many obvious questions, apparent contradictions and translation issues. For example:
OLD TESTAMENT (OT)
In Genesis 6:2, the Moody Bible Commentary discusses 4 viewpoints of who the "sons of God" are. But it dismisses and misrepresents the angels view (fallen angels + women = giants). The MBC doesn't mention that the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translates "sons of God" as "angels" and "Nephilim" as "giants." The MBC doesn't mention that "sons of God" in Hebrew (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) always refers to angels. The MBC doesn't mention that 1 Peter 3:19, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6 and 1 Enoch 6 support the angels view, or that all early Hebrew and Christian sources (Jubilees, Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus...) supported the angels view as well. Even Moody Press's shorter 1962 "Wycliffe Bible Commentary" actually exegetes Genesis 6 with a Hebrew word study and relevant cross references. Inconsistently, the MBC does condone the angels view in Jude 6. Search for "DeanBible podcast Jude 6" for an exhaustive exegesis of this bizarre topic.
The commentary on Joshua 24:30 fails to mention the longer reading, found in the Old Greek Translation, where Joshua was buried with the flint knives of Israel's circumcision. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary (NNIBC) does cover this.
In 2 Samuel 10:6 the MBC uses "mercenary soldiers" to avoid explaining why some translations say "Syrians" (KJV, ESV) and others read "Arameans" (NASB, NIV). They are synonymous terms.
In 2 Samuel 10:18 the MBC neglects to reconcile two discrepancies (700 versus 7000 and horsemen versus footmen) in the parallel passage of 1 Chronicles 19:18. Usually comparing the LXX solves the number issues in the OT.
The MBC on 2 Samuel 15:7 doesn't give the manuscript evidence (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Syrian, Latin) for why some translations say "forty years" (KJV, NKJV, NASB) and others read "four years" (NIV, ESV, HCSB). A NKJV textual footnote for that verse says, "Septuagint manuscripts, Syriac, and Josephus read four."
The commentary on 2 Samuel 16:7-8 doesn't tell us that a more literal translation of "worthless fellow" (NASB) is "man of Belial" (the wicked one) and that the priestly sons of Eli were also called "sons of Belial" (Satan). The MBC also wastes precious space discussing a liberal view that claims David may have been responsible for Saul's death, contrary to the Scriptures.
*** At 1422 pages, the MBC OT commentary is longer than the BBC at 1150 pages, and the NNIBC at 1128, but shorter than the BKC at 1575.
NEW TESTAMENT (NT)
Whenever I open this commentary, to a passage that I've thoroughly researched, I'm more disillusioned.
Instead of exegeting 1 Corinthian 11, the MBC dismisses the many timeless reasons Paul gives for head coverings, and writes it off as just a cultural practice. The connected "ordinance" (v 2, KJV) and much-practiced communion passage (v 23-26) receives a superficial gloss, with no comments on verse 26's implications for the imminent return of Christ.
The very technical 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10 needs to be covered one verse at a time. Instead, it is piled into one large 2 column section; paragraph by paragraph coverage at best. Much commentary for verse 3 is unexpectedly located 2 paragraphs after the verse 10 notes, almost an unlabeled separate article on rapture evidences (p 1893). The MBC makes no mention of the less-bias and interpretation-changing alternate-translation, in 2 Thes. 2:3, of "the departure" instead of "an apostasy," according to greek scholar Kenneth Wuest. Also no mention of the parallelism that demands verse 3 and 7-8 be interpreted the same way. The "departure" (v 3) and the removal of the restrainer (v 7) are the same event that precedes the revelation of the lawless one, mentioned in both verses (3, 8) as the second event.
The Hebrews intro dismisses the apostle Paul as a possible author, even though the writer knew Paul's theology, friends and lingo. Furthermore, early compilations of Paul's letters included Hebrews!
Commentary recommendations in the Bibliography for Revelation do not include the best scholarly classics by W R Newell, E W Bullinger and the newest FREE tome by Dr. Tony Garland, "A Testimony of Jesus Christ." All the MacArthur Commentary references may indicate a Lordship Salvation bias or Moody book promos.
Since the MBC is based on the NASB translation, some authors may not discuss alternative translations (e.g. dispensation for stewardship) or the many longer NT readings found in the KJV, NKJV and World English Bible. Also concerning is that the NT commentators' use subjective and biased language when discussing manuscript variants (e.g. Mark 16:9).
For better or for worse, the views of Bible critics are frequently covered. Consequently, the MBC has less space for positive exposition and application of the Truth. Banks train clerks to recognize the original bills, rather than endless counterfeits! Whole-Bible commentaries should focus on inductive study. Leave apologetics for the roomier and more academic single-book commentaries (e.g. Romans by Newell).
*** At 580 pages, the NT commentary is shorter than many one or two volume commentaries (BBC 1183; BKC 979; NNIBC 634), but longer than most Bible handbooks.
The MBC may be OK as a backup commentary. Moody alumni and Rydelnik fans will still want one. But skipping problematic passages, covering too many verses at once and a spotty index make the MBC seem like a rush job. It also takes too much space away from exegesis for long intros, side articles and critical rebuttals (e.g. Gen. intro). Until it is revised and expanded, with more exegesis in a verse by verse format, I doubt the MBC will become a much-quoted standard, like the BKC. Except for indexes, the BKC is superior to the MBC in every way.
Before you buy the MBC, examine a kindle sample of Genesis or the FREE PDF sample of the Daniel and Romans commentaries. Also see reviews on the alternatives above. If the aforementioned problems matter to you, get a more reliable recent option of similar doctrine, format and size. After many years of use, I can highly recommend:
Believer's Bible Commentary (BBC) by William MacDonald (more devotional, NKJV)
The Bible Knowledge Commentary (BKC) by Walvoord and Zuck (more scholarly, NIV)
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
"It shall greatly helpe ye to understande Scripture,
If thou mark
Not only what is spoken or wrytten,
But of whom,
And to whom,
With what words,
At what time
To what intent,
With what circumstances,
Considering what goeth before
And what followeth."
John Wycliffe (1320-1384, Bible translator, church reformer, fire martyr)
Copyright CBR of BibleLight Ministries.
In addition, I have doubts about the level of research backing this commentary. Case in point is Mark 5:40-43 in which a girl is raised from the dead, and Jesus instructs the parents to give her something to eat. Moody explains the reason for that is Jesus’ having compassion on the child; however, other sources explain that the girl eating would demonstrate to those with her that she was not a ghost.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to use this commentary for anything other than a 5th-grade level of insight into scripture. Too bad. I expected more out of the Moody Bible Institute professors.
Although I would classify myself as barely more than a baby Christian, the theology seems to have a sound conservative bent. This tome addresses important theological controversies within the context of the relevant chapter and verse and then gives the author's assessment of the most likely correct answer.
This is a great supplement to the Bible. It's focus is on understanding the text and broader context of the Bible texts. It will not appeal strongly to hardcore theologians but it does appear to be a reliable go-to guide for quick reference to the meaning of a verse.