I’m a huge fan of Bible commentaries, which is why this week’s sale on the New International Commentary on the Old Testament and New International Commentary on the New Testament is so exciting. While I use various commentaries for different purposes, NICOT and NICNT are probably the commentary sets that I use most often in Accordance. There are many reasons why this has become my go-to commentary series, so I thought I’d share some of them.
1) Thorough Interpretive Discussion
Many passages in the Bible have a variety interpretive theories espoused by scholars and pastors. Sometimes these interpretations are connected to denominational differences, but not always. NICOT and NICNT do a good job of addressing the most popular interpretive theories (and some uncommon ones) and then move on to explain which interpretation the author believes to be correct. It’s nice to have all these interpretive theories discussed in a single commentary, even if they don’t all line up with the author’s personal theological beliefs.
2) Excellent Writing
The depth and thorough discussion that I mention above is only a good thing if the writing is excellent, otherwise reading the commentary will feel like a chore. Thankfully, the NICOT and NICNT volumes are consistently well-written. The style is not overly technical and the authors address relevant issues without dragging out the conversation longer than necessary.
3) Insights for Preaching and Teaching
I haven’t been actively preaching this past year, but when I was I would often consult NICOT and NICNT to find illuminating teaching points. Almost always, I was able to find an illustrative example or historical fact that made my sermon more interesting. On another note, I tend to consult commentaries after some personal exegesis and study, and this series has often been helpful in confirming, refining, or refuting my initial conclusions. While it can be frustrating to have a commentary point out the flaws in your initial interpretation, your congregation will benefit greatly from hearing the edited version of your sermon.
4) Strong Scholarship for Exegetical Papers
NICOT and NICNT volumes are chock-full of exegetical insights, background information, and bibliographic footnotes. I used this series for many exegetical papers in seminary, and the papers were better for it. This series also addresses issues found in the original languages, and all Greek and Hebrew words are transliterated for accessibility.
5) Inspiring for Personal Growth
This one is a little more intangible, and will likely depend on your personal theology. For me, I like to consult NICOT and NICNT when I want to dive deeply into a few key verses. You’ll probably be better off with a study Bible if you need to cover a large number of verses, but I’ve walked away from many study sessions with NICOT and NICNT feeling spiritually encouraged. For reference, my theological background is non-denominational/evangelical, and I can only speak for myself in this regard.
To illustrate some of these points, I’d like to include a section I was recently studying from NICNT on Matthew 19:24. For background, I’ve heard multiple times from friends and pastors that when Jesus says “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” that he was really referring to an ancient gate. Supposedly, the gate was so small that a camel could only pass through on its knees. In this interpretation, Jesus would be making the point that rich people can only enter the kingdom of God if they get on their knees and humble themselves before God. Here is what R.T. France’s volume on Matthew has to say about this theory.
…More widely adopted has been a suggestion popularized in the nineteenth century that “the eye of the needle” was a name for a small gate within the large double gate of a city wall, through which pedestrians could enter without the need for the large gates to be opened as they would be for a camel train. It is suggested that a camel might be forced through such a gate with great difficulty, and further spiritual lessons have then been extracted from the observation that in order to do so it would have to bend its knees and be stripped of its load. This romantic speculation has been so often repeated that it is sometimes treated as an established exegesis. Unfortunately, while this suggestion was not new in the nineteenth century, there is in fact no evidence at all for such usage of “the eye of the needle” either in non-biblical sources or in ancient commentaries on the gospels. Even if there were, such a scenario would be quite out of keeping with what the context requires: v. 23 spoke of difficulty, but v. 24 goes further and speaks of impossibility, as vv. 25–26 will confirm.
If you are interested in owning these fantastic commentary sets for yourself, there has never been a better time to purchase them in Accordance. For the next week, we are offering our lowest price ever on the New International Commentary on the Old Testament and the New International Commentary on the New Testament. We even have a special bundle price for those who want to buy these sets together. Please note that these sale prices expire September 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm EDT and cannot be combined with other discounts.
EDIT February 2015: the sets and prices below are no longer applicable. See the updated blog post.
Regular Price: $699.99
Regular Price: $599.99
Regular Price: $1,299.98