OT Must-Buy Lists

This page contains three lists of Old Testament commentaries: (1) a must-buy list, (2) an almost must-buy list, and (3) a potential must-buy list. See each list below for a description.

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 1. Must-buy commentaries:

These are not necessarily the best commentaries, because every reader’s needs are different and because newer works may not have yet gained due attention. But these commentaries are all exceptionally strongly and widely praised by commentary reviewers both evangelical and moderately critical. They are thus important, even if not always liked in every respect. No more than one commentary has been included for each book of the Bible (except for duplication due to multi-book commentaries); all “second-best” commentaries have been automatically excluded from this list, no matter how highly praised.

  • Wenham, Gordon. J. Genesis. 2 vols. WBC. Word, 1987, 1994. 352/517pp. F-SPL Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1-15

  • Childs, Bernard. S. The Book of Exodus. OTL. Westminster John Knox, 1974. 659pp. C-PS The Book of Exodus: A Critical, Theological Commentary (Old Testament Library)

  • Wenham, Gordon. J. The Book of Leviticus. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1979. 362pp. F-PLS The Book of Leviticus (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Wenham, Gordon J. Numbers. TOTC. InterVarsity, 1981. 240pp. F-PL Numbers (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)

  • Hess, Richard. S. Joshua. TOTC. InterVarsity, 1996. 320pp. F-PL Joshua (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)

  • Hubbard, Robert L., Jr. The Book of Ruth. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1988. 317pp. F-PLS The Book of Ruth (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Provan, Iain W. 1 and 2 Kings. NIBC/UBCS. Hendrickson, 1995. 320pp. F-PL 1 & 2 Kings (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series)

  • Dillard, Raymond. B. II Chronicles. WBC. Word, 1987. 323pp. F-SPL Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 15, 2 Chronicles  (dillard), 349pp

  • Japhet, Sara. I & II Chronicles. OTL. Westminster John Knox, 1993. 1077pp. F/C/J-PS I and II Chronicles: A Commentary (Old Testament Library)

  • Williamson, H. G. M. Ezra, Nehemiah. WBC. Word, 1985. 417pp. F/C-SPL Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 16, Ezra-nehemiah  (williamson), 470pp

  • Clines, D. J. A. Job. 3 vols. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1990, 2006, 2011. 1539pp. C-SP Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 17: Job 1-20

  • Waltke, Bruce K. The Book of Proverbs. 2 vols. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2004, 2005. 693/624pp. F-PSL The Book Of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15. (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Oswalt, John N. The Book of Isaiah. 2 vols. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1986, 1998. 746/755pp. F-PSL The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Lundbom, Jack R. Jeremiah 1-20; Jeremiah 21-36; Jeremiah 37-52. AB. Doubleday, 1999, 2004, 2004. 934/649/624pp. F/C-SP Jeremiah 1-20 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries)

  • Block, Daniel I. The Book of Ezekiel. 2 vols. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1997, 1998. 887/826pp. F-PSL The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 1–24 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Goldingay, John. E. Daniel. WBC. Word, 1989. 351pp. C-SPL Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 30, Daniel  (goldingay), 408pp

  • McComiskey, Thomas Edward, ed. The Minor Prophets. 3 vols. Baker, 1992, 1993, 1998. 520/420/528pp. (Reprinted in 1 vol.) F-PSL The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary

  • Stuart, Douglas. Hosea–Jonah. WBC. Word, 1987. 537pp. F-SPL Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 31, Hosea-Jonah

  • Paul, Shalom. Amos. Herm. Fortress, 1991. 409pp. C/J-SP Amos: A Commentary on the Book of Amos (Hermeneia: a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible)

  • Waltke, Bruce K. A Commentary on Micah. Eerdmans, 2007. 490pp. F-PSL A Commentary on Micah

  • Berlin, Adele. Zephaniah. AB. Doubleday, 1994. 165pp. C/J-SP Zephaniah (Anchor Bible Series, Vol. 25A)


 2. Almost must-buy commentaries:

Commentaries ranked very nearly as high as the must-buys. When multiple commentaries are listed for the same book, the highest-ranked commentary is listed first. Some recent works still have the potential to reach the “must-buy” list in the future.

  • Hamilton, Victor. The Book of Genesis. 2 vols. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1990, 1995. 522/774pp. F-PSL The Book of Genesis (New International Commentary on the Old Testament Series) 1-17

  • Milgrom, Jacob. Leviticus. 3 vols. AB. Doubleday, 1991, 2000, 2001. 2714pp. C/J-SP Leviticus 1-16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible, Vol. 3)

  • Hartley, John E. Leviticus. WBC. Word, 1992. 496pp. F-SPL Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 4, Leviticus  (hartley), 593pp

  • Ashley, Timothy. R. The Book of Numbers. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1993. 667pp. F-PSL The Book of Numbers (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Cole, R. Dennis. Numbers. NAC. Broadman and Holman, 2000. 590pp. F-PL Numbers: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)

  • Craigie, Peter. C. The Book of Deuteronomy. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1976. 424pp. F-PLS The Book of Deuteronomy (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Block, Daniel I. Judges, Ruth. NAC. Broadman and Holman, 1999. 767pp. F-PL Judges, Ruth: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)

  • Butler, Trent. Judges. WBC. Thomas Nelson, 2009. 537pp. F-SPL Judges (Word Biblical Commentary)

  • Bush, Frederic. Ruth, Esther. WBC. Word, 1996. 514pp. F/C-SP Ruth-Esther (Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 9)

  • Tsumura, David T. The First Book of Samuel. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2007. 698pp. F-SPL The First Book of Samuel (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • House, Paul. R. 1 and 2 Kings. NAC. Broadman and Holman, 1995. 432pp. F-PL 1, 2 Kings: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)

  • Knoppers, Gary N. I Chronicles. 2 vols. AB. Doubleday, 2003, 2004. 1045pp. F/C-SP I Chronicles 1-9 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries)

  • Jobes, Karen J. Esther. NIVAC. Zondervan, 1999. 248pp. F-PL Esther (The NIV Application Commentary)

  • Berlin, Adele. Esther. JPS. Jewish Publication Society, 2001. 110pp. C/J-PS The JPS Bible Commentary: Esther

  • Hartley, John E. Job. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1988. 591pp. F-PSL The Book of Job (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Craigie, Peter C. and Marvin Tate E. Psalms 1-50. WBC. Word, 1983, rev. 2004. 375pp. F-SPL Psalms 1-50: Second Edition (Word Biblical Commentary)

  • Goldingay, John. Psalms. 3 vols. BCOTWP. Baker, 2006, 2007, 2008. 639/744/812pp. F/C-PSL Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)

  • Allen Leslie. C. Psalms 101-150. WBC. Word, 1983, rev. 2002. 423pp. F/C-SPL Word Biblical Commentary Psalms 101-150, Volume 21 Revised

  • Tate, Marvin E. Psalms 51-100. WBC. Word, 1990. 578pp. F/C-SPL Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 20, Psalms 51-100  (tate), 608pp

  • Fox, Michael V. Proverbs. 2 vols. AB. Doubleday, 2000, 2009. 496/752pp. C/J-SP Proverbs 1-9 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries)

  • Longman III, Tremper. Proverbs. BCOTWP. Baker, 2005. 608pp. F-PLS Proverbs (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)

  • Bartholomew, Craig G. Ecclesiastes. BCOTWP. Baker, 2009. 448pp. F-PSL Ecclesiastes (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)

  • Longman III, Tremper. Ecclesiastes. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1998. 306pp. F-PSL The Book of Ecclesiastes (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Hess, Richard S. Song of Songs. BCOTWP. Baker, 2005. 285pp. F-PSL Song of Songs (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)

  • Longman, Tremper, III. Song of Songs. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2001. 238pp. F-PSL Songs of Songs (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Collins, John J. Daniel. Herm. Fortress, 1993. 499pp. C-SP Daniel Hermeneia Series (Hermeneia: A Critical & Historical Commentary on the Bible)

  • Sasson, Jack M. Jonah. AB. Doubleday, 1990. 368pp. C-SP Jonah (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries)

  • Robertson, O. Palmer. The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1989. 357pp. F-PLS The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Verhoef, Pieter A. The Books of Haggai and Malachi. NICOT. Eerdmans, 1987. 364pp. F-PSL The Books of Haggai and Malachi (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Meyers, Carol L. and Eric M. Meyers. Haggai, Zechariah 1-8; Zechariah 9-14. AB. Doubleday, 1987, 1993. 478/552pp. C-SP Haggai, Zechariah 1-8 (Anchor Bible Series, Vol. 25B)


3. Potential must-buy commentaries:

A sample of important recent or forthcoming commentaries, some of which will probably join future “must-buy” or “almost must-buy” lists. Starred volumes are ones that I somewhat subjectively think are among the most likely to garner such praise (based in part on past reception of commentaries by the same authors, prominence of the commentary series in which a work is found, and the amount and quality of the “competition” for a given book). N.B.: 1) If a recent book has already gained enough praise to have been listed on the “almost must-buy” list, it has not been listed again here, even if I think it is likely to continue to rise to the “must-buy” list. 2) The order of commentaries never indicates potential ranking.

  • Note: Lexham Press is publishing a promising new conservative commentary series called Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. Seven volumes have been released and more are rapidly appearing. Volumes are initially being released only through Logos Bible Software. Because of this severe limitation, EEC volumes are not listed here, with the exception of any volumes available in print. However, EEC is a major new resource that Bible students should not ignore. Some volumes are likely to rank as “must-buys.” F-SPL

  • Hendel, Ronald S. [Genesis] 2 vols. AYB. Forthcoming. C-SP?

  • Alexander, T. Desmond. [Exodus] Apollos. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Garrett, Duane.  Exodus. Kregel, 2014. 752 pp. F-PSL Commentary on Exodus, A (Kregel Exegetical Library)
  • Hamilton, Victor. Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary. Baker, 2011. 721pp. F-PSL Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary

  • Strawn, Brent A. [Exodus] NICOT. Forthcoming. F/C?-PSL?

  • Sailhamer, John. [Numbers] WBC. Forthcoming. F-SPL?

  • Arnold, Bill T. [Deuteronomy] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Block, Daniel. Deuteronomy. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2012. 880pp. F-PL Deuteronomy (The NIV Application Commentary)

  • * Butler, Trent. Joshua. 2 vols. 2nd ed. WBC. Word, 2014. 1264pp. F-SPL? Joshua (2-Volume Set---7A and 7B): Second Edition (Word Biblical Commentary)

  • Hubbard, Robert. Joshua. NIVAC. Zondervan, 2009. 652pp. F-PL Joshua (NIV Application Commentary)

  • McCarter, P. Kyle, Jr. [Joshua] Herm. Forthcoming. C-SP?

  • * Chisholm, Robert B. A Commentary on Judges and Ruth. Kregel, 2013. 704pp. F-PSL A Commentary on Judges and Ruth (Kregel Exegetical Library)

  • Sasson, Jack M. [Judges] AYB. Forthcoming. C-SP?

  • * Webb, Barry G. The Book of Judges. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2012. 555pp. F-PSL The Book of Judges (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

  • Firth, David. G. 1 and 2 Samuel. Apollos. InterVarsity, 2009. 614pp. F-PSL 1 & 2 Samuel (Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Vol. 8)

  • * Tsumura, David T. The Second Book of Samuel. NICOT. Forthcoming. F-SPL

  • * Hess, Richard. S. [1 and 2 Kings] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Bodner, Keith. [1 and 2 Chronicles] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • * Knoppers, Gary N. [2 Chronicles] AYB. Forthcoming. F/C-SP

  • Eskenazi, Tamara Cohn. [Ezra, Nehemiah] AYB. Forthcoming. C-SP?

  • Harrington, Hannah. [Ezra, Nehemiah] NICOT. Forthcoming. F/C?-PSL?

  • Fox, Michael V. [Esther] Herm. Forthcoming. C/J-SP?

  • * Hubbard, Robert L., Jr. [Esther] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Hess, Richard S. [Job] HCOT. Forthcoming. F-SP?

  • * Longman, Tremper, III. Job. BCOTWP. Baker, 2012. 491pp. F-PLS Job (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)

  • * Seow, Choon-Leong. Job 1-21: Interpretation and Commentary. Illum. Eerdmans, 2013. C-SP Job 1 - 21: Interpretation and Commentary (Illuminations (Eerdmans))

  • Brown, William P. [Psalms] OTL. Forthcoming. C-PS?

  • Cole, Robert. Psalms 1-89. NAC. Forthcoming. F-PL?

  • Cooper, A.M. [Psalms] AYB. Forthcoming. C-SP?

  • Jacobson, Rolf A., Nancy deClaisse-Walford, and Beth LaNeel Tanner. The Book of Psalms. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2014. 880pp. F-PSL? The Book of Psalms (New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT))

  • Ross, Allen. P. A Commentary on the Psalms. 3 vols. Kregel, 2012, 2013, ?. 896/848/?pp. F-PSL A Commentary on the Psalms, Volume 1 (Kregel Exegetical Library)

  • Shepherd, Jerry. Psalms 90-150. NAC. Forthcoming. F/C-PL?

  • Wenham, Gordon. [Psalms] Apollos. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Johnstone, Gordon. [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs] Kregel. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Weeks, Stuart. [Ecclesiastes] ICC. Forthcoming. C-SP?

  • Paul, Shalom M. Isaiah 40-66. ECC. Eerdmans, 2012. 728pp. C/J-SPL? Isaiah 40-66: A Commentary (Eerdmans Critical Commentary)

  • Schultz, Richard. [Isaiah] Apollos. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Allen, Leslie C. Jeremiah. OTL. Westminster John Knox, 2008. 656pp. F/C-PS? Jeremiah (2008): A Commentary (Old Testament Library)

  • Scalise, Pamela J. [Jeremiah] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Vanhoozer, Kevin. [Jeremiah] BTCB. Forthcoming. F-PL?

  • * Hubbard, Robert L. [Lamentations] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • * Parry, Robin A. Lamentations. THOTC. Eerdmans, 2010. 272pp. F-PS? Lamentations (Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary)

  • Salters, R.B. Lamentations. ICC. T&T Clark, 2011. 375pp. C-SP Lamentations (ICC): A Critical and Exegetical Commentary (International Critical Commentary)

  • Wooden, R. Glenn. [Daniel] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • * Dearman, J. Andrew. The Book of Hosea. NICOT. Eerdmans, 2010. 422pp. The Book of Hosea (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) F/C-PSL

  • Gordon, Robert P. [Joel, Amos, Obadiah] ICC. Forthcoming. F/C-SP?

  • Carroll R., M. Daniel. [Amos] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Kugel, James. [Jonah] Herm. Forthcoming. C-SP?

  • * Stuart, Douglas. [Micah-Malachi] WBC. Forthcoming. F-SPL

  • Renz, Thomas. [Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Jacobs, Mignon. [Haggai, Malachi] NICOT. Forthcoming. F/C-PSL?

  • Boda, Mark J. [Zechariah] NICOT. Forthcoming. F-PSL?

  • Wolters, Al. [Zechariah] HCOT. Forthcoming. F-SP?

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