…and why you should consider the series, too.

I was introduced to the Word Biblical Commentary during my first semester in seminary in Fall 1991. I had somehow managed to place into Advanced Old Testament Survey, allowing me to complete in one semester what usually took two. My professor was Dr. John D. W. Watts, the original Old Testament editor for the Word Biblical Commentary. I later learned from his teaching assistant that Dr. Watts had recently completed his two-volume commentary on Isaiah for the series. This pleased the TA because evidently, the commentary had consumed Dr. Watts’ time during the previous year. He said that Dr. Watts would come into a class with only his Hebrew Bible, ask a student on the front row to read the last thing in his or her notes from the previous day, and then he would pick up where he left off.

Even with his commentary completed (although revised since), Dr. Watts often followed this same procedure in our class; and honestly, it was quite impressive. Yet, it spoke to the kind of writers utilized in the Word series. The Word Commentary is written not just by experts in their fields—that’s usually true for any commentary series. The Word Biblical Commentary is the fruit of biblical scholars who have lived with these texts for decades, and in some cases, practically their entire lives.

WBC-Isa screenshot

All the writers of the Word Biblical Commentary share a “commitment to Scripture as divine revelation and to the truth and power of the Christian gospel” (all quotations in this post come from the WBC Editorial Preface). Every volume includes an original translation into English from the biblical languages. Although some level of familiarity with biblical languages is recommended for reading these volumes, the target audience is fairly broad: “the fledgling student, the working minister, and colleagues in the guild of professional scholars and teachers as well.”

Those who have used the Word series appreciate the structure and format of its treatment of biblical passages:

  • Notes: provides information about textual witnesses on which the original translation is based.
  • Bibliography & Form/Structure/Setting: summarizes the state of modern scholarship on the passage.
  • Comment & Explanation: offers “clear exposition of the passage’s meaning and its relevance to the ongoing biblical revelation.”

According to the editors, this sectioned approach is designed to offer “something for everyone who may pick up these volumes.”

I began acquiring individual copies of the Word series during that first semester in Dr. Watts’ Old Testament class. I was only beginning my language studies, but the Word Commentaries quickly became a valuable resource I could grow into using at greater depth as my studies progressed. Later, I sold my physical copies and purchased the Word series in Accordance because I discovered it was much easier to carry dozens of commentaries with me on a laptop than what even the roomiest of book bags would allow. Even then, I had no idea that I would one day be able to carry them all in the palm of my hand on an iPad or iPhone!

Even in the years that I’ve been using the Word Biblical Commentary, it’s hard to imagine that the series has not yet been completed to cover all books of the Bible! I believe at this point, we’re just waiting on Acts and 1 Corinthians. Nevertheless, the editors have not allowed the series to become outdated. Already there are multiple revisions of volumes bringing together the latest in scholarship and archaeological findings. Thus, the Word series continues to provide both a trusted and fresh approach to the Scriptures, sustaining it as a continuing standard in biblical studies.

On October 1, the publisher will raise the price of Word Biblical Commentary. However, throughout the month of September, they have allowed us to feature the series at the extremely low price of $9.99 per volume. This truly is the best time to acquire the Word series, or update it to all current volumes.

For details on the the September sale of the Word Biblical Commentary, see Monday’s post on the Accordance Blog: “WBC Update & Sale.”