With so many great commentaries out there, it can be hard to see what makes a series special—especially when you’re reading just a brief description.
In short, here’s what makes the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) a favorite choice for thoughtful scholarship:
- Respected authors
- Reader friendliness
- Faithfulness to the text
- Praise and endorsements
BECNT’s authors include prominent Bible scholars like Darrell L. Bock, G. K. Beale, and David E. Garland. By investigating a variety of viewpoints—while maintaining a firm grasp on the truth—the BECNT gives readers an authoritative view of each study passage.
I. Howard Marshall serves as emeritus professor of New Testament exegesis at University of Aberdeen. He describes BECNT like this:
This series has set a new standard in reader-friendliness with its attractive presentation that combines detailed exegetical comment on the Greek text with accessibility for those who have little or no knowledge of the original language of the New Testament.
What does that sort of reader-friendliness look like, and how does it balance with scholarship in the BECNT?
Read this short sample from the introduction to the Galatians volume, by Douglas Moo, for an example:
The long and complex argument of Gal. 2:16–5:12 revolves around the polarity of doing the Torah or “works of Torah,” on the one hand, and “Christ faith,” on the other. Paul begins with this polarity: “[We] know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.
So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified” (2:16).
And he concludes on this same note: “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope” (5:4–5).
This last text reveals just how serious the choice between these two options is. But our question at this point is this: Why does Paul erect so strong an antithesis? Why are observing Torah and commitment to Christ absolutely opposed?
Praise for BECNT’s individual volumes includes this from Joseph A. Fitzmyer at Catholic University of America:
This excellent commentary on the Lucan Gospel is massive, but well written, informative, and judicious. . . . It should be a boon for pastors, priests, seminarians, and all educated general readers interested in the interpretation of the Gospels. Bock has read widely, asks the right questions, and gives a balanced answer in his interpretation of this Gospel.
Readers agree on the BECNT’s value; a look at bestcommentaries.com reveals that 8 of the 18 volumes are ranked 3 or above.
Logos user Christian H. says this about a volume by Grant Osborne:
This is an excellent and scholarly commentary on Revelation. It is well written and an easy read as well. Osborne does an excellent job surveying the views of the most prominent scholars in modern times. Also compares the views, and provides good arguments to support his conclusions.
Another Logos user, Ernest, recommends the Luke 1:1–9:50 volume: “Great stuff! Great insights. With this, you don’t need any other Jewish Bible/Background commentary.”