Sep 28, 2011 David Lang

Commentary Sets vs. Individual Volumes

Not long ago, a seminary student explained why he prefers to buy individual volumes of a multi-volume commentary rather than the entire set. He said that when he is studying or teaching through a book of the Bible, he would prefer to buy the best commentaries he can find on that particular book. Then when he moves on to another book, he'll buy commentary volumes on that book. For those who prefer to purchase commentaries that way, we have a number of large commentary sets which can be purchased in individual volumes or small groups of volumes. These include Pillar, NIGTC, NAC, NICNT, and more.

While buying individual volumes initially costs less than buying an entire set, purchasing a commentary piece by piece will ultimately cost you more. By taking advantage of sale prices and our payment plan, you can get the most bang for your buck while also spreading the purchase out into manageable payments.

In addition to the financial advantages of buying complete sets rather than individual volumes, complete commentaries offer the additional advantages of greater scope and simplicity. If you display your commentary in a pane alongside your text, a complete set will always give you information about whatever passage you happen to be viewing. You also have the simplicity of dealing with a single module. You simply display NICNT, for example, and it stays in sync with whatever passage you navigate to.

NICNT in parallel with Matthew NICNT in parallel with Romans

If, on the other hand, you purchased individual volumes of NICNT, when you navigate to a different passage, you'll have to switch your commentary pane to a different NICNT module. That is, of course, if you even own the relevant volume.

Beyond the advantages in price, scope, and simplicity, complete commentary sets also have the advantage of containing hidden gems you might not otherwise discover. I'll give you an example of that in tomorrow's post.

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Archived Comments

Matt Murphy

September 28, 2011 5:54 PM

I agree with the sentiment of the person who just graduated seminary.  I'm in the same boat :-).  If you pay attention to reviews and ranking, (such as and the one on's journal pages) there are some commentaries that are ranked much lower than others in the same series set.  So, in general, this helps.

However, if you look at those remarks for the NICNT and NICOT, those volumes generally rank #1-3 which is excellent.  So for those two I would make the exception, but only because they are ranked where they are ranked (excellent).  I've bought volumes in sets on Accordance because of cost, and because they were bundled that way.  the pricing is also cheaper in general if you get those volumes as a grouping than seperate. 

I think the addage comes from not getting sunk by looking at a sub par reference book for a sermon and end up hosed because of it.  I bought the hardcover of much of the NICNT because a bookstore was going out of sale, i knew the owner and i got an extremely good deal. (80% off).  Otherwise, i would have waitied for accordance's version. 

I'm still up in the air over the whole paper commentary vs digital commentary.  I think both are great to have.  Sometimes I like the book reading, other times, i like the ease of a search on the computer. 

Thanks for making such awesome products!!!