If Commentaries Were Sports Teams

As much as Americans love democracy, we want sports to be a simple meritocracy: may the best team win.

A lose-and-you’re-out tournament is our idea of a championship. We don’t what sportswriters telling us who they think is best; we want winners to prove who’s best. That’s why Americans love college basketball’s March Madness.

For years, Bible commentary fans have relied on “sportswriters” to tell them which commentaries are best. Carson and  Longman (through their commentary surveys) and Denver Seminary and Detroit Seminary (through their lists) have long determined the best commentaries for each Bible book. Bestcommentaries.com (the Sportswriters Association of the commentary world) has aggregated those votes and become the go-to resource for recommendations. But there has never been a definitive commentary championship.

Until now. The scholars have voted; now it’s time for you, the primary intended readership, to tell us which commentaries are the best. This year, Logos March Madness focuses on commentaries (and MobileEd courses), and you are giving us your top picks. You can participate in the latest round of voting here.

What if commentaries were sports teams?

All this topic of competition has gotten my mind running. What if commentaries were sports teams?

The New International Commentary on the Old Testament and New Testament are the UCLA of commentaries. They have racked up the most impressive series of first-place finishes at bestcommentaries.com: 15 number ones and numerous top-five volumes. Craigie on Deuteronomy, Waltke on Proverbs, Longman on Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs, Block on Ezekiel, Fee on 1 Corinthians, Moo on Romans—this team is stacked. This is the evangelical commentary series to have. I expect it to do well in the tournament. (Also note that F.F. Bruce is the John Wooden of evangelical commentaries.)

The Word Biblical Commentary actually has an equal number of first-place finishes, but fewer second places. It’s the University of Kentucky of commentaries—just not quite up to the level of UCLA. (It’s also in the lead in round 3, and you can add your vote to help.)

But there are some other honored programs and figures in the commentary sport:

May the best commentaries win.

Vote now for your favorites (the ones you want to own!).

Mark L. Ward, Jr. received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as a writer for Faithlife. His most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.


  1. Mark, that may be the way you wanted people to vote, but not all of us voted that way on every matchup. I didn’t vote for the best commentary, if I already owned a commentary, I would vote for the one I didn’t own. If I owned both commentaries, I would vote for the more expensive one or the one with the most votes so far. If I didn’t own either, I would probably vote for the most expensive, but some voted for the most affordable.
    Thanks, Dale Heath

    • I get that. You’re right. My thinking is the same, because I have a lot of the best sets. But introducing that complication would have ruined my fun in building up this analogy. =) And many Logos users *don’t* have the UCLAs and Kentuckys of commentary sets; they have really great ones from the base packages (NAC, PNTC, etc.) but are lacking, say, the NICOT/NICNT or BECNT.

    • Point taken! It’s a three-pointer, actually. Good shot.

  2. I agree with Dale and said so as soon as I saw the blurbs for MM. I never saw my comments posted anywhere. I didn’t vote my favorites. I voted for what I didn’t already have. If I already had both, I may have skipped it or voted my favorite. But I wouldn’t judge favorite commentaries by the votes cast here. I”m sure a lot of others figured this out as well.

  3. Well, I’m not going to buy a sports team… Instead, I am recruiting the best from each team and building my own super team.

    I’ve bought a couple of teams in the past, but I’ve recruited individuals from many of the teams, albeit a lot of them with paper hardcopy contracts… (Anchor, Hermeneia, ICC, NICNT, NIGTC, Pillar, WBC, ZECNT, etc, and BECNT, which appears to be missing in the clash of commentaries).

    As I said in the Suggestions forum, it would be great if Logos offered the individual volumes at 10% less discount than the respective set’s March-Madness sale price. (E.g., Round 1 individual titles for 25% off rather than the set discount of 35% off.) I think this would be a win/win for all. But maybe this would mean tedious negotiation with the publishers…?


  4. Graham Bennett says:

    That’s a really neat way to describe the commentary sets. Sadly it is totally incomprehensible to those of us who do not live in the USA.

    • (The secret is that I have never watched an entire March Madness game; I barely watch the highlights. My Christian Laettner reference comes thanks to YouTube and Wikipedia.)

  5. David Menton says:

    As a layman, I have enjoyed Paul Kretzmann’s four volume Popular Commentary. I have had a hard bound set of Kretzmann in my personal library for many years and would love to have it on my Logos as well. Saddly, I have had it on preorder with Logos Community Pricing where it has been “gathering interest” for about two years. Help me out on this Mark. and get Kretzmann rolling.


  6. Hamilton says:

    Hi all:

    Just curious , by any chance has anyone done a collection with the best commentary from the different series, for each Bible book?

    What would the rule for that collection be? Or is it better to go to best commentary.com and tag the best two or three of each found there, and use mytag in the rule?

    Thanks ahead of time for any input on this.

    • You might want to tag them like you said and maybe make a collection called best commentaries. You will get a lot of different opinions on the best commentaries. You will need to make your own list. You can start with that site if you want. I discovered three books in my library that talk about commentaries and I’m going through them now. I have my own collection called recommended commentaries.

      • Hamilton says:

        Hi Larry:
        In your “recommended commentaries collection”, did you tag the commentaries, or did you add them manually?, if you tagged them, how did you label the tag?

        Thanks for clarification.

        • The easiest way to add a book to a collection is to tag it. I have a collection called recommended commentaries. There are commentaries that I wouldn’t think to look at except that somebody I respect recommended them. I could just prioritize them, but I have so many commentaries I’m not going to remember the recommendation. I’ll see something unfamiliar and just pass over it.

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